Summer is right around the corner, and that means more time to get out and run in the great outdoors. However, while it's a perfect time for us humanoids to get outside, it's also the perfect time for those nasty little buggers we call ticks!
In some cases, ticks are unavoidable. These tiny blood-sucking parasites like to hide out in long grass, trees, shrubs, and leaf piles, and enjoy latching on to us and our four-legged buddies. They also transfer easily from pet to owner and vice-versa, making them a real pest. However, there are steps we can take to avoid ticks and, should they find their way onto our bodies, ways to remove them.
Let's look at how we can control our exposure to these pests:
The first step to preventing exposure to ticks is to try and avoid tick-heavy areas. Ticks tend to live in wooded, grassy locations and thrive under moist and humid environments, but can adapt to any conditions. If you're going to run in a wooded area, try to stay along the path where there is the least amount of long grass and plant life.
The next thing to do, if you're in a tick-infested area, is to wear clothing that covers both your arms and your legs. Tuck your shirt in, and tuck your pants into your socks so there are no openings for them to crawl into. Light-colored clothing is also helpful, as it will help you to see if a tick is indeed on you.
To assist you even more, spray on some repellent; both permethrin and DEET are suitable for preventing ticks. Keep in mind that a coating of permethrin is good for a month, so you don't need to reapply it often, and it should only be used on your clothes and your shoes. DO NOT put it on your bare skin.
After a run, hop in the shower as soon as you can, and inspect areas like your armpits and other spots on your body that can become especially warm and moist. Scrub down well in case any ticks are hiding on your body, and dry off completely.
As for your running clothes, throw them in the dryer and turn it on high heat to kill any lingering ticks that may have nestled into your clothing.
What To Do If You Do Contract a Tick
If you are unfortunate enough to get a tick latched onto your skin, don't fret because there are steps you can take to remove it.
First things first, you'll need to address it as quickly as you can. The longer they are burrowed into your skin, the tougher it will be to pry them out. Next, grab a pair of tweezers and locate the exact spot that the tick has bitten into your skin.
Pinch the tick with your tweezers as close as you can to the surface of the skin. Then, once you've got a good grasp on it, gently pull upwards and avoid wrenching or twisting the tweezers as you pull upwards -- you don't want to pull off part of the tick and leave its mouth attached to your skin. If there are teeth left in your skin, pull those out carefully as well.
Once the tick is removed, clean both your hands and the affected area with soap and water, or with rubbing alcohol. The tick, which will likely still be alive, should not be crushed with your fingers or any part of your body. You are wise to drown it in rubbing alcohol, put it in a ziplock bag, or flush it down the toilet.