Tick Bite Prevention
While it is good to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April through September) when ticks are most active.
- Avoid direct contact with ticks
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter
- Walk in the center of trails
- Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin
- Use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth. •Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
Insect Repellent Safety
Need help picking a repellent? Learn what is the best repellent for your activity by using the Insect Repellent Database.
Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.
Safe Tick Removal
Tickborne Related Illness
In the United States, some ticks carry pathogens that can cause human disease. Click here for a listing of diseases.
Many tickborne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms. If you have been bitten by a tick and develop the symptoms below within a few weeks, a health care provider should evaluate the following before deciding on a course of treatment. The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:
- Aches and pain
- Joint pain
- Rash (sometimes)
Lyme disease, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), Ehrlichiosis, and Tularemia can result in distinctive rashes. In Lyme disease, the rash may appear within three to 30 days, typically before the onset of fever. The Lyme disease rash is the first sign of infection and is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans (EM). This rash occurs in approximately 70 to 80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite.
Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. However, early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. See your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described.