How To Avoid Ticks While Hiking

how to avoid ticks while hiking

Given the prevalence of ticks on hiking trails, it’s vital to learn how to stay tick-free while out on the trail. While it’s uncomfortable to be bitten by a tick, some ticks are more hazardous than others. Some people spread Lyme disease, a potentially dangerous infection. Do you want to know how to avoid ticks while hiking? Read on for more details!

What Are Ticks?

Ticks are small arachnids that live in wooded or grassy areas. They only come out at night, preferring to attach themselves to animals (including humans) during their sleep. Ticks get their name from the fact that they will ‘tuck’ themselves under the skin of an animal for warmth and protection.

How To Know If You Have An Attached Tick

To recognize if you have an attached tick, look for certain signs. Once the tick has grown in size past its egg, it will need to feed on your blood in order to survive. Ticks are known for their slow digestion rate, so they typically take their time when biting into a host’s skin.

Try to find a tick attached to your skin by looking for the following signs:    

  • The early stages of a tick will involve you feeling some discomfort or itching around the area. As it moves towards your skin, you might feel mild pain or tenderness.    
  • Some ticks are more swollen than others, so look out for ticks that look larger than normal. Ticks will also swell as they fill up with your blood, and they’ll become more noticeable as time passes. If you’re familiar with ticks, you should be able to recognize one that has just landed on your skin or is crawling around on your skin.    
  • If the tick has been attached for a day or two, you might notice a rash forming around the area where it is attached. In some cases, the tick bite will form a circular-shaped rash known as erythema migrans, which is one of the most common signs that Lyme disease has been contracted.
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How To Avoid Ticks While Hiking

how to avoid ticks while hiking

The best way is to stay away from thick brush and wooded areas, as this is where ticks tend to be found. Nearing dusk or dawn might also increase your chances of being bitten by a tick because it is the time of day that ticks prefer. Wearing bright clothing and applying bug repellent will keep these bugs away from you, especially if they can’t locate a dark-colored host to attach themselves to.

If you’re hiking during mid-day, it’s best to stop for lunch and rest up before continuing on your way. This is when ticks are most active and will be waiting for you on the forest floor. By taking a fifteen-minute break, you’ll give yourself time to find potential host animals (you) and more easily brush any ticks off before they can get attached.

Tips On How To Reduce Risks Around Ticks

After reading about how to avoid ticks while hiking, you might be wondering how to reduce the chances of being bitten by one. There are a few things you can do to help decrease your risks around ticks.

Some places that are prime for tick bites include tall grasses and shrubs where they can easily hide during the day. You’ll want to try your best to avoid these kinds of areas.  

  • Ticks typically like to hide in crevices and dark places, making it harder for them to be seen. Try to stay on the trails around tick habitats as much as possible, and avoid going into tall grasses where there is a lot of shade.  
  • Cover your skin by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Ticks can’t fly, so they’ll typically crawl onto their host from the ground up. Avoiding clothing with light or bright colors will help as well.
  • Wear a hat to try to keep ticks from crawling around your neck and face. Also, tuck your pant legs into your socks so that you don’t have to worry about exposing any skin.  
  • Wear light-colored clothing, so that you can see ticks crawling around if they should happen to find their way onto your clothing.  
  • Spray yourself with DEET insect repellent before going out on a hike, as this will help deter ticks from wanting to climb onto your skin.  
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If you do get bit by a tick while hiking, it’s important to remove the tick as soon as possible so that bacteria don’t have enough time to enter your body.

How To Remove A Tick From Your Skin

Once you’ve found an attached tick, there are a few things you should avoid doing immediately, as this can lead to the tick regurgitating your blood into your body. You should never burn or smother an attached tick with vaseline or any other substance, as this can cause the tick to burst inside of your skin.

It’s also not a good idea to use alcohol, fingernail polish remover, or petroleum jelly in an attempt to kill the tick with chemicals. The best method for removing a tick is by using fine-tipped tweezers and grasping the tick where it attaches to your skin. Pull straight out with slow, even pressure until the tick comes off of your skin.

If you don’t have tweezers available or are feeling squeamish about removing a tick by hand, there are some over-the-counter products that can help get rid of ticks for you.

Put your clothes into a dryer for fifteen minutes after returning from a hike. Ticks like to fall off their host once they’ve had enough time to feed, which is why you should always check yourself for ticks after going out into nature. If a tick has fallen off of you, it won’t be located anywhere near you anymore and can no longer attach to your skin.

Conclusion

After reading how to avoid ticks while hiking, you’ll have a better idea of the precautions you need to take when going out on a hike. Remember to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, keep your skin covered at all times, and stay away from tall grasses where ticks could easily find their way onto you.

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Though ticks aren’t the only pests you’ll encounter when hiking, they are one of the biggest concerns that hikers have to put up with regularly. Ticks can be difficult to spot on your skin due to their small size and the fact that they like to attach in areas where there isn’t much light.

By taking extra precautions, you should hopefully be able to avoid a tick bite altogether.

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