Ask Dr. Dylan: A doozy of a tick season

Dr. Dylan helps us prepare for Tick season

Dr. Dylan says this year will be a very active tick season and avoidance is the best way to prevent tick-borne illness.

As we spend more time outside this Summer, Dr. Dylan Wyatt, an emergency medicine physician, with St. Luke’s, offers his advice on dealing with ticks.

What kind of tick season should we be expecting?

Dr. Dylan: With the mild winter, ticks will be very active this year. We’ve been seeing cases over the past month and a half or so which is quite early. Activity usually increases throughout the spring months, peaks in summer and drops off over fall. It’s worth mentioning that depending on the weather tick bites can occur any time of the year.

What should we do to avoid tick bites?

Dr. Dylan: Wear light colored clothes to better spot ticks. Try to avoid walking through woods, tall grass, bushes, or handling downed plant matter such as leaves.

Check over your whole body (and the bodies of kids and pets) at the end of the day being outdoors. Pay special attention to the armpits, underwear lines, and socks.

Chemical prevention can also be used with permethrin application to clothes, which kills ticks on contact. These can stay on clothes through multiple washings. Various sprays and oils can also be used including those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Be sure to apply these regularly.

What if we find a tick? How do we take it off?

Dr. Dylan: Use fine tip tweezers to grasp the tick as close as possible to the skin, then pull away from the body with a steady pressure. Afterwards, wash the area with soap and water. Afterwards, watch for any rashes that develop. 

Is there ever a time we should talk to a healthcare professional about a tick bite?

Dr. Dylan: If you are able to get the tick off before 24 hours of attachment, the chances you come down with a tick borne disease are minimal. Keep an eye on the area, and if you develop a rash or the area swells seek evaluation. If the tick was attached greater than 24 hours, seek evaluation with a medical professional.