Tick bite prevention and correct removal is crucial when it comes to avoiding Lyme disease. There are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of being bitten by a tick.
Tick bite prevention and removal
- Carry a tick removal tool with you at all times, if possible.
- Use a repellent when engaging in outdoor activities and choose one that repels ticks, mosquitoes and other biting insects.
- Although ticks have been found in urban parks and gardens, it’s wise to take extra precaution in long grass, leaf litter and in wooded areas.
- When hiking or doing other outdoor activities, try and stick to pathways where there tends to be less long grass.
- Wear a long-sleeved top and tuck trousers into socks to reduce skin exposure. Light-coloured clothing may enable you to see ticks more easily.
- If you are taking part in a high risk activity, it is possible to buy pre-treated clothing from camping or hunting shops that has been sprayed with the repellent permethrin or you can spray clothing and shoes with this product yourself (do not spray directly on skin and be aware that it is toxic to cats).
- Check yourself, your children and your pets regularly for ticks when out and about and brush off any that are unattached.
- If you see an embedded tick, remove it as quickly as possible using the correct tick removal technique. If you are unable to remove the tick successfully, visit a doctor immediately, even if it means going to A&E.
- Have a shower when you get home and check yourself thoroughly for ticks. Also check any people or pets who were out and about with you and if bitten, put all clothes in the tumble dryer on the highest heat possible or wash your clothes at a high temperature.
- If you notice an EM rash or become unwell following a tick bite, see your GP immediately and mention your concerns about Lyme disease. Draw around the rash with a pen to monitor any changes and take photos. Please note that around one third of Lyme disease patients never experience an EM rash and so it is important to look out for symptoms as well and keep a symptom journal.
- Familiarise yourself with the NICE Lyme disease guideline and the RCGP resources on Lyme disease, including the GP toolkit.
Note that many people with confirmed Lyme disease do not remember being bitten by a tick as they can be so small. Lyme disease can also be transmitted congenitally and more research is needed into whether other forms of transmission are possible.