Knowing how to avoid ticks is key if you want to enjoy the outdoors to their fullest. They cling to nearly everything and spread all kinds of diseases, including Spotted Fever, Rocky Mountain, and – perhaps most dangerously, Lyme Disease.
Ticks are best avoided altogether if possible, but that’s easier said than done. Here are my eight best tips to avoid the pesky things.
Understand What Makes Ticks Tick
Like a good hiker, ticks are natural climbers. They naturally love to climb no matter where they are. They will always climb and climb and climb until they find something else to latch on, such as skin or fur.
Wear the Right Clothes
The easiest way to avoid ticks is to dress for the outdoors. It’s good to cover up as much as possible with quick-drying clothes. Think long sleeves and long pants and put on a hat when walking through tick territory. Avoid wearing shorts and short sleeve shirts. While they love climbing, they tend to stop moving upwards when they reach a crease. Also, further reduce exposed skin by tucking your pants into your socks and then your shirt into your pants.
I recommend wearing a hood or hat too for an extra layer of protection. Another essential tip on how to avoid ticks while hiking is to wear bright colors. You’ll likely be wearing them for safety purposes anyway. As a result, you’ll be able to spot small and dark ticks as they climb up clothes and try to reach skin.
For more tips on what to wear, check my what to wear hiking article.
Stay on the Trail
Ticks like to hide in grassy, bushy, and forested areas with plenty of shade and humidity. If you stay on the trail and stick to the middle of the bath and don’t go bushwhacking, you’ll have an easier time avoiding ticks when hiking.
Use Tick Repellents
There are plenty of different tick repellent sprays available to help keep ticks away. DEET is a solid choice because it also repels mosquitos as well as ticks. However, another good option is Permethrin. When you get the spray, you can apply it to your clothes. There are even clothes made from permethrin-infused fabrics that are naturally tick repellent.
How to Check for Ticks
You should make sure to check yourself for ticks regularly before, during, and after a hike. Just give yourself a good pat down from head to toe. Additionally, yay special attention to creases and cracks when you find them. You can check yourself over when taking a trail break, when you reach the trailhead, and again when you get home after the hike.
Also, check your hiking buddies if you went with friends. Flick any live ticks away before they can find a spot!
Check Your Stuff
As you’re watching out for yourself, don’t forget to also watch out for your stuff. It would help if you always went over your pack and extra layers when you finish your hike to make sure they are clean. The last thing you want to do is take ticks into your home!
Shower as Soon as You Can
Be sure to have a bath or shower as soon as you can when you get home. Also, wash your clothes and dry them at a hot temperature to kill and remove any ticks that might be hidden away.
When It Comes to Removing Ticks
The CDC recommends using tweezers to remove ticks. Use the tweezers to pull the tick away from the skin as close to your skin as you can get. Once the tick has been removed, clean the area where the tick was and keep an eye on the bite. Monitor yourself for flu symptoms, fevers, and muscle aches/pains.
Consult a doctor immediately if you notice anything wrong after a tick bite.
The CDC has plenty of other advice and information about ticks if you’re interested. Otherwise, keep these tips in mind on your next hike.As always, I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have. It’s a subject I wish I didn’t have firsthand experience with!