It’s Tick Time!
It’s that time of year! It makes my skin crawl just thinking or talking about them, but it’s tick time. And yes, that’s my hand above with a tick in picked off my dog’s face last summer after she had just walked outside. Ick, ick, ick, I hate ticks!
Check yourself, AND your pets after being outside.
Nova Scotia is home to several kinds of ticks, but the ones you really need to be cautious for are the black legged ticks that can cause Lyme disease.
It feels to me like ticks have gotten a lot worse since I was a kid, but I grew up in Lunenburg County (aka Tick County), so all summer; each time us kids went outside, we had to thoroughly check ourselves for ticks each time we came inside! They seem to be plentiful all over the province. And their season lasts longer. I feel like we shouldn’t have to worry about ticks outside the summer months, but we do!
Ticks like moist and humid environments, so can be found in a lot of places, including in or near woods, shrubs, long grass, and parks and gardens. Pretty much everywhere! They’re pretty small too, which can make them heard to spot. Plus their bites don’t hurt, so it makes it difficult to know when you’ve been bitten.
Knowing that going outside can result in getting ticks on you, you can take some precautions; like:
-Wear long pants and long sleeves in areas likely to have ticks
-Wear light coloured clothing so its easier to see ticks
-Wear enclosed shoes and tuck your pants into your socks
-Walk on well-travelled paths, avoiding long grass and vegetation
-Wear insect repellents containing DEET or Icaridin to exposed skin and clothes. Follow directions on the package carefully. Permethrin treated clothing repels and kills ticks when they come in contact with it and is now registered for use in Canada for those 16 years of age and older.
As I mentioned earlier, I have lots of experience ‘checking for ticks’. I know I’m more afraid of them as an adult than I ever was as a kid. I think my years of having to check carefully for ticks makes my dislike for them even stronger! If you’re spending time outside, you have to check yourself for ticks, especially during the warmer months. You, your kids, and your pets! Having a bath or shower within two hours of coming inside makes it easier to spot ticks and wash off unattached ticks. Make sure you kill them though, rather than just letting them go down the drain! Ticks like warm places on the body, so remember to check these spots:
-in the hair
-between the legs/groin area
-around the waist
If you find ticks, remove them safely, keeping these tips in mind:
-Carefully grasp the tick with tweezers – the pointier, the better – as close to the skin as possible
-Gently and slowly pull the tick straight out of the skin. Do not jerk, twist or squeeze it
-Once the tick is removed, clean the area of the bite with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizer.
-Make a note of the date and where on the body the bite occurred. This will be important if you, or a loved one begin to feel unwell.
Make sure you kill the little buggers too, don’t just fling them outside! Flush them down toilet, drown in rubbing alcohol, or freeze in a plastic sealed bag prior to putting in the garbage. Don’t crush them with your fingers, (we used to burn them, or crush them with a rock when we were kids)!
If you’d like to learn more, and find out about signs & symptoms of Lyme disease, please visit the NS Government website here.
And good luck out there this season!