Recently, we talked about hiking dates apparel, textile fibers properties, and how to clean gear. But these are not the only aspects you should take care of when you go for a hike. In fact, besides unanimated things, when you go camping or hiking, you’ll have to deal with animals too. And, most of the time, the smallest ones are the trickiest. For example, ticks are pretty annoying because you usually would not notice their attack. Today, we’ll help you solve some doubts about these insects, for example, do ticks wash off in shower?
In this article, though, we’ll discuss much more. First, we’ll analyze which are the risks you will run into if you get bitten. Then, we’ll provide some tips about what you can do to prevent ticks attacks. The core of the article, instead, focuses on things you should do after a hike. In particular, we’ll speak of ticks inspection, how to treat your clothes, how to extract ticks from your body, etc.
Are Ticks Bites Dangerous?
The correct answer is: it depends. For a start, there are many species of ticks, and some do not carry pathogenic organisms. According to statistics, only 30-50% of deer ticks in the US are infected. Second, diseases caused by tick infection take some time to develop. So if you spot ticks early, i.e., a few hours after the attack, the risk of contracting one drops significantly. Actually, there are a lot of tick-borne diseases, and some are typical of distinct geographical areas. Yet, the most common ones are:
- Lyme Disease
The good news is you may risk contracting it only if you get bitten by an infected deer tick. More in detail, ticks carry Borrelia burgdorferi, a spiraliform bacteria, and once they bite you, they transmit it to you. Lyme disease consists of three phases, early localized, early disseminated, and late disease. Since there is great variability of symptoms, you should read more about each phase. If you are scared, please note that Lyme disease takes time to spread. In particular, the tick needs to be attached for 24 hours. Thus, if you get bitten, do not panic!
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (shortened for RMSF)
We said it before, ticks species are infinite. This disease is carried by a common one, the wood (or dog) tick. Besides symptoms, it differs from Lyme because the infection transmission is faster. Specifically, you can contract Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever six hours after the tick attack. Symptoms include high fever, headache, skin spots that develop in circles.
How to Prevent Ticks Attacks
To prevent ticks attacks, you have to know your enemy. The problem is that outdoor, you can find them almost anywhere. Ticks love wooded areas, but they proliferate in the grass as well, so your garden could be a potential insect nest. Speaking of outdoor activities, you could be in danger when you go hiking, camping, or hunting. Also, some ticks really like dogs. Thus, if you go for a walk with your pet, it’s most likely one or more ticks will attack it.
Let’s see how to prepare yourself when you go outdoors. First, if you are going to walk through tall grass, wear long-sleeve shirts and long trousers. Moreover, you should spray your clothes with the proper repellant. Which are the best products, you ask? The ones with permethrin, an ingredient you can use on hiking clothes, shoes, and gear. Permethrin is one of the best ingredients because, besides being universal, it is pretty durable.
Take care of your skin! Ticks can attach to any exposed area of your body, so you have to spray yourself with a good repellant. Since safety comes first, we highly recommend choosing one of those you can find on EPA’s list. The product must contain one of these ingredients:
• oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
• para-menthane-diol (PMD)
Here are a few notes to help you buy the right product. To start, make sure it contains 20% of one of the ingredients listed above. Second, go to the EPA website and check which are the suitable ingredients for your body. When choosing a product for kids, you must be even more careful. Particularly, never use products containing OLE or PM on children under the age of 3. These ingredients are dangerous for minors.
Things You Should Do After a Hike
Have a Shower
It’s time to talk about what to do when you come home after a hike. Let’s begin with information about the shower: does it wash off ticks? Well, the answer is “it depends”. If the tick is stuck in your body, showering is not the right solution. These insects are able to survive 2 – 3 days even when submerged. Plus, shower water is not hot enough to kill them. Yet, if you can spot unattached ticks, water will help to get rid of them.
Check for Attached Ticks
Even though it doesn’t kill attached ticks, healthcare institutions recommend having a shower as soon as you come home. While you undress, in fact, you can check your body and make sure everything is alright. Are you new to outdoor activities? Then, you probably imagine that ticks attacks are painful, and the former sentence looks odd to you. However, this is not the case. These insects are very subtle and, since they are so small, you will never notice their presence.
Of course, things change when it comes to allergic people. Those ones who are allergic to ticks, in fact, will experience terrible pain when they get bit. In addition, they can have a hard time breathing.
Let’s skip to the body inspection part now. To start, you need a few items:
• a full-length mirror
• a table mirror
Ticks are small. It’s true: when they are stuck into your body, they suck blood and engulf. Yet, it may still be hard to spot them, so instruments to have a close look is a manner. Are you asking yourself what to do now? Pass your hands on your body while looking at yourself in the mirror. Ticks can hide anywhere, so it’s fundamental to make a careful inspection. Since these insects love warmth and hidden places, we suggest checking cavities like in and behind your ears. Besides, you should look for ticks:
• in your navel
• between your hair
• on the hairline
• behind your knees
• around your waist
• under your armpits
• between your legs
• on your ankles
• on your elbows
How to Take Out Ticks From Your Body
If you find a tick stuck on your body, do not worry, but prepare yourself to take it out. Ticks can remain attached to your body for up to 10 days, so it’s crucial to remove them immediately. Remember, the less they stay attached, the less the risk of contracting a tick-borne disease.
Online you can find many methods to do it. The best one, however, will always be to extract it with tweezers. Even in this case, you have to be focused and perform the operation calmly. You don’t want the tick head to remain attached to your skin, right? To make things go smoothly, you have to put tweezers as close to your skin as possible and start pulling. You can have a look at how to do it here.
Should You Inspect Other Stuff?
Yes, totally. Ticks do not attach to your body only. In fact, they can choose to attack your dog. Moreover, not all attacks may hit the spot, and you may carry some on your clothes without having a clue. Since these insects can survive for 2 -3 days in a house, this means they could attack you once again.
What to do with your clothes then? If they are damp, you can throw them into the drier. Before starting the process, please make sure you set the machine to hot air. As you read above, ticks are hard to kill, so cold air will not help you out. The best thing, however, would be to use the washing machine. You do not want to put your clothes in the closet after a hike, do you? Of course, you will have to set the washing cycle to a high temperature, or the insects will survive!
We have reached the end of this article. Maybe you were just looking for a post that would give you just a straightforward answer. However, in our opinion, answering a simple question such as “do ticks wash off in shower” was not enough. After all, being safe during hikes counts the most. And, since providing safety tips is one of our main goals, you’ll always find information like this. Hope to see you soon. Stay tuned!