Thanks to the foundation staff and volunteers, our trails are typically reasonably clear so hikers here can greatly reduce their chance of getting ticks by staying on the trail. (Yes, hiking in the winter is even a more surefire way of avoiding ticks.)
Backpacker magazine has some good basic tips for hikers on avoiding ticks. In this part of Virginia, minimizing your contact with high grass, brush and woody shrubs is wise. And, deet does work against ticks. (We have it for sale in the shop at Trillium House.) Wear light clothing, long pants and tuck in cuffs.
But, if you're outside in the spring or summer, you're likely to have some ticks. A tick check after hiking is a must. Parents should check their children. Look carefully. Little-nymphs, which spread Lyme disease far more than adults, are often smaller than a tiny freckle.
"If you find a tick attached to your skin, there's no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively," says the Center for Disease Control's website.
How to remove a tick
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.