Dr. Deborah Rouse-Raines's tips on preventing and removing ticks - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Tips on safe way to prevent and remove ticks

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Nothing can cause a fright like a tick bite. This year the Tri-State has seen more of the little buggers, not just in the woods where we expect, but they have penetrated our own back yards. Ticks are on the rise as more deer that carry ticks live in our neighborhoods and milder winters aren't freezing them off. Dr. Deborah Rouse-Raines was in studio with tips on safe way to prevent and remove ticks.

Dr Deb's Tick Prevention Tips

1. Avoid

Ticks are the great hitchhikers hoping to latch on to their next meal whether it be human or animal so avoid their path whenever possible. They thrive in shade so avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails and don't allow pets to go off trail either.

2. Repel

Wear hats, long sleeves and tuck long pants into closed toed shoes in wooded areas or hikes. Light clothing will make it easier to see ticks.

Use repellents that contain 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on the exposed skin. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.

Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings.

Treat your pet with a tick collar or monthly preventative such as Frontline. Check medications specifically for ticks. I assumed my heartworm medicine was treating for ticks but I needed a separate medication.

3. Tick -Tac -Check

Repelling tick is great in known areas but the most important tip is to check for ticks everyday on children and pets as they may show up when you least expect.

The longer a tick is latched to the skin, the greater the likelihood the tick will pass on an infection. Ticks can spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and several other diseases.  Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you. They don't usually bite right away so you may prevent a bite by washing them away. It is very unlikely any infection will be passed the first 24 hours after a bite.

Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.

Ticks can hitch a ride into the home on clothing and pets too, then attach to a person later. Carefully examine pets, coats, and gear. Put as many of the items into the dryer on highest heat possible for as little as 5 minutes before washing to kill ticks. If you find a tick on your pet, throw all the sheets and blankets that your pet has come in contact with (including your own sheets if he sleeps with you) in a hot dryer then wash.

4. Remove

If you see a tick try to wash it off with liquid soap but if it doesn't come out, don't reach for kerosene, a match, Vaseline, nail polish or any other wives tales that you may have heard.

Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.  Don't grab the belly because may push the harmful secretions back into the person.

Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick. Don't worry if mouth parts remain, try to remove with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, or soap and water.

Freeze the tick and label date and location if possible in case you have symptoms later.

There is a Pro Tick Remedy kit you can buy for less than 5 dollars that includes a tick remover as well as a magnifying glass so that you can identify what type of tick it is.

5. Treatment

If you are bit, DON' T PANIC!  Most ticks do not carry disease. Only blacklegged ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease and even in areas where Lyme disease is common, only 20-30% of ticks are infected. Southern Ohio is considered a rare area. Most Lyme disease is acquired in the Northeast and Great Lake regions. Ticks can cause other diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Talk to your doctor about using a prophylactic or preventative antibiotic if you were bit by a tick that has been on the skin longer than 4 hours or has been on long enough to become engorged, was improperly removed, if you are pregnant or have serious health problems.

Everyone that has been bitten should be on the lookout for viral symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, knee swelling, facial paralysis or rash even weeks after being bit. DO NOT IGNORE ANY SYMPTOMS. Almost half of people with Lyme disease do not remember being bit. Testing for Lyme disease is difficult and not everyone will get the tell tale bulls eye rash.

Ticks are more common than ever so make ticks checks routine. If you do see one, don't panic and run for a match. Use my tips and to stay healthy and prevent disease.

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