7 Tick Bite Prevention Tips to Protect Yourself

Disease-carrying ticks are terrors, but there are ways to stay safe while protecting yourself from head to toe. Learn several ways that will help prevent ticks from ever being on your skin.

tick-defense-hiking
Photo: Getty Images

Protect yourself from tick bites with these smart strategies.

1. Stick to the Middle

When you're on a hike or walking through a wooded area, avoid the edges of paths and trails, where ticks are more prevalent.

2. Wear White

Teeny-tiny ticks are easier to spot against light-colored clothing. (If you spot a tick on your clothes, try this clothes dryer method to quickly get them off.)

3. Protect Your Noggin

Ticks are not only found in the grass. "Brushing against a tree could easily leave one in your hair," says Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. Try donning a cap or tying your hair back. Use repellent on your face by spraying it into your hands and then applying it with your fingers.

4. Hike up Your Socks

Pull on some white cotton socks, and tuck your pant legs into them. Fashionable, it's not. But every inch of exposed skin matters.

5. Treat Your Clothes

If you're heading into tick-heavy backcountry for days, consider applying the insecticide permethrin to your clothes (it can last through up to six washes). Then, spray repellent on any skin not covered by clothing. "Ticks are crafty, so you want to use multiple types of protection," saysPaul Mead, MD, chief of Epidemiology and Surveillance for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Lyme Disease program.

6. Double-check Your Damp Bits

Ticks love dark, moist areas, so focus on the groin, backs of the knees, and armpits when you're looking for them. "Women often forget their bra line, but that's a tick's dream spot," says Andrea Gaito, MD, a rheumatologist and Lyme specialist based in Basking Ridge, N.J.

7. Hit the Shower

A full-body tick check and a pair of tweezers should be your first line of defense. But you might be able to scrub away any ticks you miss—and slash your risk of tick-borne disease—when you lather up. "Water alone won't do the trick because you need a bit of resistance to remove ticks," says Dr. Gaito. So grab a loofah!

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