According to recent studies from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease is rapidly becoming the “fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the United States.” Equally shocking—the number of Lyme disease cases reported has “increased by 25 times since national surveillance first began in 1982.” Breaking these statistics down further, the CDC reports that this would mean there are 25,000 new cases per month, 5,700 per week, 822 per day and 34 new cases per hour. While statistics like these are sure to make most outdoor enthusiasts wary, what is even more discouraging is that 50% of Lyme disease patients do not recall a tick bite. Despite the fact that these are incredibly damaging numbers, no hiking lover is going to stay inside to avoid contracting this disease. What, exactly, then can those who enjoy the outdoors do to safeguard themselves against ticks? Read on for five vital tips, aimed at enabling outdoor lovers to continue living an adventurous life, free of this life-altering disease.
Tip #1: Dress appropriately.Yes, it will be hot when one is enjoying outdoor activities. However, make sure that your dress is appropriate to what the activity is. If one is camping and hiking in the woods, tank tops, shorts and flip-flops are not wise. Ticks can easily attach themselves to your head, shoulder or another area of the body. Key garments for such activities include hats, lightweight sleeved tops, light pants, socks and appropriate footwear. While the temperature may be a bit hotter while wearing such garments, this is the easiest and most sure-fire method to prevent ticks from attaching themselves to you.
Tip #2: Use good quality tick spray.It will pay off to invest in high-quality tick spray and repellent. While drugstore brands, like “OFF! Deep Woods Spray” may help deter mosquitos, this is not a wise option for repelling ticks. While slightly more costly, tick-repellent sprays like Tick Shield Tactical by Owens Organics is a highly effective method for deterring ticks. Remember, this type of spray can, and should, be used on skin AND clothing.
Tip #3: Light colored clothing only.While it may sound obvious, wearing dark clothes makes it incredibly easy for these critters to blend in. By choosing white, light blue, light pink, etc. one can easily spot a tick if one happens to land on you while outdoors.
Tip #4: Dress for hiking, not fashion! While maybe not the most fashion-forward look, tucking clothing in can help prevent ticks from ever standing a chance. Tucking your pant legs into your socks, keeping your shirts tucked into waistbands, and possibly even duct taping top of socks and shoes while hiking in high-tick infested areas, will keep ticks away from your skin. Yes, you may feel ridiculous doing so, but the outcome is worth it.
Tip #5: Stay on the right path.Save the wild terrain for the wild animals. There is a reason why hiking paths are clearly labeled. Often, park service personnel maintain these trails and can update you if weather conditions, animals, etc. may interfere with your hike. Also, thanks to regular foot traffic, these trails stay clear of thick brush, high grass, and overgrown bushes. Cleared trails also will provide a bit of space between you and the thick brush, which is a favorite tick hangout spot. Once you meander off the beaten path and into uncharted territory, you will likely be walking through unkempt areas where ticks love to call home. So, grab a trail map and stay on the trail. You will save yourself a lot of heartaches.