7 things walkers should know about ticks
Be tick-aware to reduce your risk of being bitten
There are lots of brilliant reasons to enjoy walking. But one downside can be the risk of getting a tick bite which, on occasion, may become infected. And in a worst-case scenario tick bites on humans can cause Lyme disease which can develop into a serious illness if not spotted early. So here is our list of 7 things walkers should be aware of on the topic of ticks.
1. Where do ticks live?
Ticks are present across England, Scotland and Wales, and are usually found in woodlands and forests, moorland and grassland or in areas of bracken. However, they can also be present in urban green spaces and even gardens. They feed off birds and mammals, such as deer, squirrels or sheep so if there are these animals around, there are likely to be ticks.
2. Are tick bites common?
It’s hard to know how common human tick bites are across the UK, but it does seem that more people are being bitten by ticks. That could be because there are more ticks around. Or it might just be that people are becoming more aware of ticks and therefore reporting them.
3. When are tick bites most likely to happen?
Ticks are usually around from March to October. But with our climate getting warmer, there is a greater chance of picking up a tick at any time of the year. However, in winter you’re more likely to be wrapped up in boots and thicker clothing which makes it harder for a tick to latch on to you.
4. What does a tick look like and how do they bite?
Ticks come in different sizes depending on their age, so the smallest are like a poppy seed and difficult to see. Older ticks are like tiny spiders and easier to spot. They get bigger as they fill with blood.
Ticks will attach themselves to your skin or your clothing and move around for a while until they find a place to ‘dig in’. They’ll then stay there for a day or two before falling off. If you don’t see a tick then you not even be aware you have been bitten
5. How to get rid of ticks?
If you do find a tick, don’t just try and pull it off with your fingers. Ideally use a special tick-removing tool or if you don’t have one, use tweezers. Get a firm hold of the tick with the tool and gently pull it off you, then wash the skin and use antiseptic cream on the bite area. Then keep an eye on that part of your body for any signs of infection.
6. What precautions should I take?
Try to avoid walking through long grass, heather and bracken.
Wear long trousers (not shorts) and boots (not sandals) and tuck your trousers into your socks
Use insect repellent and carry a lint roller to run over your clothing occasionally
Change your clothing as soon as you can after your walk. As a minimum, give your trousers and boots a good brush down.
For the next few days check your body when you’re in the shower or getting dressed.
7. How would I know if I have Lyme disease?
You would likely notice an infection within a month of the bite. The most obvious symptom is a ‘bulls eye’ ring around the area of the bite but not everybody gets this rash. If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms and suspect it may be related to a tick bite, contact your doctor’s surgery. A course of antibiotics should clear the infection.
More information on Lyme Disease
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