If you are an outdoor atheist then you may likely encounter tick bites, especially if you live in the USA, where ticks are found commonly on every trail. These small blood-sucking bugs live on grass, shrubs, trees, and leaf piles and wait there for their host to come and they attach inside your skin. Sometimes people don’t pick any signs at first but find later. To avoid any of these scenarios on your hiking trip today I will show you how to avoid ticks while hiking?
Without directly jumping into the solution first we gain some knowledge on ticks, which everyone should know if an emergency knocks while you are on a backpacking trip.
Types of diseases ticks cause
Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. This is the type of infection transmitted into humans and animals by the bite of ticks. This disease is very common in the USA. The way to spot the symptoms of Lyme disease is heavy fever, you may experience headache, fatigue, sometimes the symptom is only red rashes. Besides that, if you neglect the symptoms the infection may pass to your heart and nervous symptom. Take quick treatment as soon as possible.
babesiosis is another disease that is caused by black-legged ticks. The infection is transmitted from ticks by infecting the red blood cells. Besides the fact that it a black-legged tick, this disease is mostly found in animals, but there are cases where it is found in humans also in the USA. The infection is spread by nymph, which is one of the early stages of ticks. It’s very hard to spot its symptoms because of the too-small size of the nymph.
Powassan is one of the oldest virus diseases which is caused by the bite of a tick. Besides the fact that it is the oldest disease, there are very few cases reported of this disease in humans. While the disease is rare but also more dangerous, sometimes people infected with Powassan disease require immediate treatment in hospital. Some common symptoms of Powassan disease are- severe headache, seizures, regular vomiting, weakness. Sometimes it also leads to memory loss as per kids health.
Anaplasmosis is a bacterial disease that is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. This bacterial disease is transmitted to the human body by black-legged tick bites. Some common symptoms to spot anaplasmosis are- headache, fever, pain in muscles.
Ehrlichia is a disease that is transmitted by ticks to humans and dogs. The type of ticks that cause Ehrlichia is Lone star ticks. The common symptoms of this disease are- headache, pain in muscles, and joints. Sometimes you may notice the symptoms after 2 weeks of the bite.
This is the disease that is commonly found in squirrels, and rabbits. It may not be found in humans but it is found in dogs. The disease is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis
Are ticks dangerous?
If we take an average then tick bites are usually not dangerous, and you don’t even notice any symptoms. A dangerous situation occurs when the tick carries the harmful disease and transmits it to the human body, in some cases it also becomes deadly.
Tics are also compared with spiders because of their 8 legs and small size. Usually, ticks are very small that you rarely see them at first, until you feel something. Ticks attach to their host body and soak the blood to build stronger and bigger. If a tick attaches to anybody it soaks blood for several days and changes its color into green.
How to avoid ticks while hiking?
Check your skin
If you are out for an outdoor adventure, especially if you are hiking make sure to inspect your body regularly because of the small size of ticks it becomes very difficult to notice them, and there is a huge probability that you may not experience any bite or rashes at first.
If you can not check your whole body then make sure to check some parts of your body that attracts the ticks most. Ticks are like spiders but instead of going for the host themselves, ticks wait for hosts to come near them. As any living thing comes near to them they are quick to act on the body parts which are more warm and soft. Underarms, behind the knee, stomach, and around your hair and neck are some attractive points for ticks. So, keep checking these body parts while hiking.
Take shower early
Another option to avoid any tick remaining on your body while hiking is to take a hot shower within 2 hours. If the time doesn’t fit make sure you take it after you come home, this way you keep your body clean and safe from any infection, also reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases.
Style your hair appropriately
While hiking or going outdoor keep your hairstyle close and tight, for extra protection take a hat or cap. If you have long hair make sure to pull back the hair and make a tight hairstyle something like braids, and buns. Hairs and around hairs is the most common region that attracts ticks, so protect it.
Dress close and light
Dress appropriately outdoors or hiking to avoid tick bites. There are a few things to keep in check before getting ready for hiking. The first is, make sure your pant or trouser is tight from below so that it can fit inside your socks. The second is to wear high ankle boots to close the doors for tick entrance, you can also put your pant inside high ankle shoes.
Avoid half sleeve shirts or t-shirts while hiking, always go with long sleeve shirts to avoid tick bite, and make sure all buttons of the shirt are closed. Whether you are hiking in summers or winters always wear long sleeve shirt or t-shirt if want to prevent ticks bite.
Always tuck your shirt inside your pant to avoid any gap or entrance mark. To make it easy for yourself to notice the tick on your clothes, wear light clothes as they are more visible on light color clothes because of their earthy and warm colors.
Avoid hot places
As ticks are more likely to be found in warm and hot places, the best way is to avoid the spots that are hotter. Even you plan to go there, make sure you are fully protected.
Always walk in the center of the trail because ticks are more likely to be found on the long grass and trees. Avoid any contact with trees and leaves, as leaves are one of the favorite places or homes of many crawlers. Also, make sure to sit on the ground while thinking because there are more chances to get yourself infected. Usually, trails that follow the route through woods, grass, and bushes are filled with a lot of ticks.
To protect your gear and yourself from ticks, treat your clothes and gear with 0.5 percent permethrin. Also, make sure insect repellant contains 10% to 30% DEET.
How to treat ticks bite while hiking?
Remove yourself or with a tool
If you came in contact with any ticks, the first option you have is to remove it manually with your hands, to do so-
- Grasp the tick tightly with your finger and thumb, and then pull it up from the surface of the skin.
- By doing so, make sure you don’t break the tick. To avoid this make sure the pressure is limited when pulling.
- Now, check the bite spot clearly, if is there anything left of the tick- mouth or leg. If yes, then remove it.
- After removing the tick completely, make sure to clean the bite spot and hand it with soap or any other cleanser like alcohol to avoid any further risk of tick-borne diseases.
- After that, instead of crushing the tick with your hand, use alcohol on the tick to make sure it is dead, and then put it into any container or sealed bag.
After removing the tick completely, there is a chance that you may get infected by any disease, so it’s always a good option to visit your doctor as early as possible to know the type of tick bite and symptoms.
If you are using a tool then use the tool to pull the tick out from the skin surface with mild pressure. You can find a lot of good tools in the market for backpacking.