Know what you are looking for
Don’t know what to look for when checking for ticks? You are not alone. Members of the spider family, ticks are small brownish creatures that are easy to miss. The charity Lyme Disease Action has created a quick reference guide, which you can read HERE. Ticks love to feed on blood, and sometimes when they attach to a human they can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, so it is important to be tick aware.
Dress to un-impress
As ticks are dark in colour, wear light-colour clothing so you can spot any more easily. Wearing longer sleeve tops and trousers, as well as tucking your trousers into your socks, will reduce direct exposure and make it more of a challenge for the tick to reach your skin. Use an insect repellent or clothes designed specifically to reduce bites. Scottish outdoor brand KEELA has created a great range of outdoor clothing and accessories with added Insect Shield treatment.
Review your route
Long grass, shady woodland and deep vegetation are favourite resting spots for ticks. As you explore you will naturally brush against grasses and flora, making it easy for ticks to attach to your clothes. Consider looking at your route and sticking to defined paths that avoid deep vegetation. Not only does this limit your chances of picking up a tick, but also protects the natural environment from erosion.
Remove like a pro
Despite taking all precautions, if you are regularly out and about the chances are you may end up finding a tick or two. Once you are back from your walk do a tick-check. Brush them off clothing before they get a chance to attach and check your skin for any that have made it through. Don’t forget to also take a look over your four-legged companion too. If you notice one has latched on, it is important to remove the tick as soon as possible to minimise the risk of infection so invest in a tick remover.
It is estimated that one in ten ticks in the UK carry diseases and so, though it is important to know how to protect yourself while outdoors, ticks should not deter you from heading out on an adventure. Armed with the right knowledge and tools, ticks can become just another part of the natural surroundings, a space that has greater importance this year as we look to expand our playground.