If you’re out hiking or even in your backyard gardening, shower and launder timely as deer ticks can be hard to detect and there is no safe season. In November 2020 I found a tick and researched how to handle.
When you live in Connecticut and you enjoy the outdoors you likely also have ticks in the back of your mind. While it is referenced they may go dormant you are not out of the woods. Deer ticks may or may not go dormant based on when they had their last meal and the warming winters in CT.
Ticks are aggressively looking for a host because they need a blood meal at every stage of their life cycle to survive. So they “quest” on something waiting for a host to latch onto like tall grasses, a deer or even your dog! So stay with me on this point.
Case in point: If you hike with your dog and the tick uses the dog to latch onto you can acquire from hugging your dog when you’re home “safe and sound.”
Repellent- Use a repellent (based on your comfort level natural or otherwise). I choose to use a natural repellent. A bit pricier it’s true. TIP: please keep in mind especially with natural you should spray more often.
It’s not once and done! Makes a great gift too for your family and friend hikers!
Clothing- Ticks do not jump. They get on you when you brush upon something on which they are waiting. Your ankles and arms are key points of entry for this reason. Examples for clothing may include high socks, high waisted leggings and even a light scarf. They can get on your clothing and wander to warmth however. Wearing light colored clothing is helpful to find them on your clothes.
Shower- Throw your clothes in the laundry in case any are waiting on your clothes. Take a thorough shower when you get home in case one found it’s way on you.
TIP: Use a body scrub or loofa sponge when you shower to add a little friction to better ensure any ticks are scrubbed off.
Examine- Examine yourself and your hiking buddies (like your dog) when you get home. Focusing on areas which may be more hot and humid. The one I found was on my side waist.
Say cheese! – Let’s say you checked yourself and found one that burrowed – which I did. Start by taking a picture of it.
This helps for the analysis of the type of tick (e.g., Dog, deer) as well to determine if it’s engorged and therefore exchanged fluids with you. I screamed and there was no calm for me to take that picture while she was in me (yes it was a female) but I did take a picture after we took it out.
Removal- remove the tick straight out with a tweezer trying not to twist and trying to keep it as whole as possible but keeping any and all parts. You will likely need someone’s assistance to do this. Then take a picture of the tick and the area you took it off of as an ability to watch the progression.
Transport- Store the tick in something you can use to transport without further harming it. I used a cleaned out spice bottle.
Initial Assessment- Fortunately the government center in Stamford has a process whereby you can deliver a tick and they will confirm the type and send it off for testing at no cost to you. Find out if you have something similar in your area. That’s what we did to be told on the spot that it was a female tick that did not appear to be engorged so it was not thought that it exchanged fluids with me to share any diseases.
Testing- You will need to complete a form and it will then be sent to the lab for testing to include Lyme plus additional types of diseases it may carry.
Antibiotics- I did acquire a dose of antibiotics while I awaited the results as I have experience with Lyme and did not wish to risk something in my system that could progress while I waited for the results. This is of course is your option and under the discretion of a physician.
Monitor Progress- I also took a picture daily of the impacted area to see how it was progressing.
Test Results- Within a week I received the results by email which were quite comprehensive by testing for three different potential issues. Fortunately for me they were all negative.
People choose to see either a physician or naturopath – seek one of the two out should you receive a positive result. There is much controversy and books written about how and who you should go to to address Lyme or its related diseases. That will be based on your personal preference and interpretation of the approaches.
Please know however that the test for Lyme in humans is an indirect test meaning it’s not positive or negative but one that is subject to interpretation by the reader based on the analysis that needs to be performed. Educate yourself on this so you know why the result was interpreted as it was as there is also controversy here. Also the symptoms you may experience vary and may or may not be related to Lyme so that too is subject to interpretation. For this reason, prevention and mindfulness are key and your next steps are a very personal one.
Final Note and Personal experience
Stay diligent regardless of location, season and length of time as they are all contributing factors but none discount the need. I had a tick burrow in November and the only outing in the prior 24 hours was walking on a beach in my long winter coat at sunrise. However, it could have also been acquired from my dog so remember it’s not only a direct encounter it could also be indirect.
Additional information from the CDC in the link below
Keep hiking just stay safe and stay informed. Hope these tips are helpful. Feel free to join me on the blog as I share other tips as well for safe outdoor adventures.
2 thoughts on “Tips: Tick Tock”
Great advice and glad all turned out well.
How kind of you! Thank you!