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Understanding Lyme Disease -- Prevention

How Can I Prevent Lyme Disease?

Tips for preventing Lyme disease include the following: 

  • Because infection does not occur until a tick has been attached for at least 24 hours, a thorough daily tick check can be an effective first-line defense.
  • Be aware that the ticks are very small, although they are larger when engorged with blood.
  • If you spend time outdoors in areas inhabited by deer ticks, wear shoes, long pants tucked into socks or pant legs, and long sleeves.
  • Use insect repellent with 20%-30% DEET around your ankles, other areas of exposed skin, and clothes. Follow directions carefully.
  • If you work or walk in brushy areas or woods, check regularly for ticks; they are easier to see against light clothing. Check especially around the armpits, groin, scalp, belt line, neck and head. Check pets often, as well.
  • If possible, avoid tick-infested areas, particularly in May, June, and July.
  • If you're in tick-infested areas, walk in the center of trails to avoid overgrown grass and leaf litter.
  • If you do find a deer tick on your skin, remove it immediately.

 

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How to Remove a Deer Tick Safely

  • With tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible, pulling gently and steadily.
  • Be patient trying to remove the tick. Ticks secrete a special substance that "cements" them to your skin.
  • Save the tick for identification, if possible. Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • If the tick's mouth parts remain embedded in your skin, make sure to remove them.
  • Don't attempt to burn a tick with a lit match or use other products (like petroleum jelly) on the tick.

Should I Take Antibiotics?

If you have been bitten by a tick, call your health care provider. Antibiotics may be given to prevent Lyme disease. However, antibiotics should only be given when the tick has been attached for at least 36 hours and you have been in a region where there is a high risk of contracting Lyme disease.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 23, 2014

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