Staying Safe from Ticks
Held in July, Red Shoe Day pays tribute to all who have lost their battle with Lyme disease. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected tick. Symptoms range in severity and may linger over time. Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation reminds us of precautions to take when heading outdoors.
Just spending time outdoors improves physical and mental health. And summer is one of the best times to thrive outside. Our community parks are filled with sounds of kids playing, people laughing, shoes crunching on trails, and oars and paddles swishing in water. Hopefully, the sun’s powerful rays are a bright reminder to use sunscreen. However, protection from the tiny unseen danger of a tick is less likely to cross our minds.
Decrease Your Risk
PAHWF shares reminders on how to best avoid tick bites during the peak season of summer. For Pennsylvanians, tick season typically begins in April and lasts into October. So, yep, humans aren’t the only creatures thriving in the summertime. Take precautions before going into woods, thick underbrush, or tall grasses.
- Wear long sleeves and pants. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks. Cover your head with a hat; keep long hair contained. (Prepare for crankiness since kids—young and old, like 50ish—will complain of the heat.)
- Use insect repellent. Be sure the ingredients are safe for children. Focus on mainly spraying clothing and shoes to avoid unnecessary skin contact. Avoid hands, face, and mouth. Consider clothing pretreated with tick-repellant.
- Do a thorough check. After spending time outside, search for ticks on your skin and clothing. Check young children because they might not do a thorough job themselves. Use your finger pads to lightly feel your scalp. The most dangerous ticks are often the size of a pinhead so use good lighting. Of course, thoroughly check pets.
- Shower when returning indoors. This may wash away any ticks that haven’t attached themselves yet. (As a two-fer, those with allergies will wash away pollen.)
- Remove ticks quickly. Pull a tick straight out with a tweezers. Do not squeeze or crush the body. Flush the tick down the toilet or drown it in rubbing alcohol. Apply antiseptic to the bite area.
Don’t worry about the “grass being greener.” Focus on making your yard beautifully tick-proof. Keep grass cut short. Clear away underbrush and leaves. Limit areas like these where ticks thrive. Also limit areas where rodents like mice may call home. Ticks can travel on them. A tidy, well-maintained yard does not welcome ticks. Now there’s a reason to do yardwork!
These basic precautions can help you spend time among nature without worry of Lyme disease. International Red Shoe Day, July 25, was created by friends of Theda Myint who died of Lyme disease after suffering from symptoms for a decade. She had a fondness for red shoes, which her friends keep alive through this holiday to spread awareness.