When enjoying time outdoors, it is important to be aware of ticks and take steps to protect yourself. You can take several steps to prevent illnesses spread by ticks, including using personal protection, removing ticks as soon as possible and getting rid of ticks in your yard. Ticks are typically most active in Wisconsin from May to September, but it is still important to use caution year-round. Follow these tips to prevent tick bites:
- Use repellent on skin and clothing: Use insect repellents with 20%–30% DEET, 10–20% Picaridin, 15–20% IR3535, or 30–40% oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and clothes.
- Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: Wear long sleeves, long pants and long socks keep ticks on the outside of clothing. Light- colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot. Tuck shirts into pants and pants into shoes or socks to keep ticks on the outside of clothing if outdoors or in the woods for any length of time.
- Check for ticks after being outdoors: Check all parts of the body carefully, especially armpits, behind the knees, the scalp, in and around the ears, and inside the belly button and groin. Make sure your clothing, gear and pets don’t have ticks before going inside. Kill any ticks that may still be on clothing by putting clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. If clothes are damp, use high heat for 60 minutes.
Don’t panic if you find a tick embedded on your body. Simply remove it as soon as possible: Grasp the tick with a narrow-bladed tweezers as close as possible to the skin. Pull upward and out with a firm and steady tension. Don’t use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products. Don’t squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick. Don’t twist, as this can cause the mouth parts to break off and stay in the skin. After removing the tick, use rubbing alcohol to clean the bite site and wash your hands. It is important that a tick be properly removed as soon as it is discovered. Visit your doctor if you have a rash or fever within 30 days of removing a tick or after possible tick exposure.