Tick-borne Lyme Disease has not been far from the news this summer. Around 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease are thought to occur in England and Wales every year.
Recent draft guidelines from the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) have named areas in southern England and the Scottish Highlands as being high risk regions for Lyme disease. However, the body also warned that infection can occur in many other places.
As a result of the prevalence data being incomplete, Nice has called for a large study into Lyme disease in the UK.
The risk of tick bites in the UK may not be top of your mind as autumn arrives but ticks can be found outside of the summer months so it is worth practising the same vigilance for ticks as you would during the height of summer.
Although ticks may only be tiny creatures, it only takes a single bite from a tick infected with Lyme Borreliosis (Lyme Disease) to cause you harm. Tick bites from infected ticks can cause serious, long term and debilitating effects on your health. Preventing tick bites will reduce the risk of contracting Lyme Disease and other diseases passed on by ticks to nothing.
So here is a summary of six simple ways you can help prevent tick bites:
On of the best ways to avoid tick bites is to use an insect repellent that repels ticks
1. Ensure your repellent repels ticks
An effective tick repellent will help to reduce the chances of tick bites. But not all preventative repellent products repel ticks. So make sure you look for an effective repellent that repels a range of common biting insects including ticks.
2. Apply tick repellent
Once you have sourced a tick repellent you need to use it effectively to reduce the chances of tick bites. A top tip is that you apply it to exposed skin and clothes, including your shoes! This will help give you the greatest level of protection. Note that some repellents contain ingredients which may damage your clothing so know your brand and test its effect on a hidden piece of fabric.
3. Choose light coloured clothing
Ticks can be very small (about the size of a poppy seed). Choosing lighter coloured clothing will help you reduce the chances of tick bites because you are more likely to see if a tick has grabbed hold of your clothing. You can then detach and discard it before it has the chance to bite.
4. Cover up
Ticks like to live in warm, moist undergrowth in wooded areas and in rough grasslands. When you are going into areas like this you can reduce the chances of tick bites by covering up exposed skin. Tucking your clothes in, especially your trouser legs, greatly reduces the chance of you getting bitten.
5. Dry your clothes in a drier
Ticks thrive in warm and moist conditions but don’t like hot, dry heat. So if you have been out on an adventure, ensure you don’t bring any ticks back into your home by giving your clothes a ten minute, high temperature spin in your drier. This will stop the risk of tick bites in your own home as it will kill any ticks that may have been hiding in your clothing.
6. Check, check, check
You can greatly reduce your chances of harm from tick bites by checking regularly as it takes 24-48 hours for an infected tick to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease after it has attached to your skin. So if you have been outdoors, make sure you check yourself, family and any pets for ticks. Especially check the warmer parts of your skin, such as creases and joints.