If you love long walks in the woods but are afraid of ticks, have you considered using tick repellent? There are several products available in the market and how effective they are may depend on proper application and use as well as formulation. It pays to know which product can work effectively and safely. Below are some of the existing anti-tick products to give you protection against ticks and the diseases they carry.
DEET Based Products
There are various DEET based products that are safe on human skin formulated to be absorbed less by the skin but provide extended protection. It may be applied on clothes too but some fabrics react to it. What you need to be looking for are products specified for ticks because some are formulated to fight off mosquitoes only.
DEET has been proven to work most effectively as tick repellent. A study has been conducted to compare the effectiveness of DEET as opposed to other repellents containing other components such as picaridin.
If you are not comfortable applying anti-tick products directly on your skin, another defense against ticks is a spray product containing permethrin. Popular brands containing permethrin are mostly found in garden supplies or sporting goods. You can use the product as a direct spray on fabrics and clothing. This synthetic pyrethroid effectively works by killing ticks on contact with treated materials such as tents, mosquito nets, socks, shoes or the hem of your pants.
This product is not as effective if applied directly on the skin as it is poorly absorbed and the body tends to deactivate its use. But used on clothes where it quickly dries, it only takes as short as 30 seconds for a tick to die once exposed to treated materials. As tick repellent, it is also economical because its effect on clothes can survive several washings. Note, however, that permethrin can be deadly to cats.
Plant-derived repellents are good especially because they are natural which means less ill-effects compared to chemical based products. However, most herbal repellents are promoted as anti-mosquitoes than anti-tick. That is probably because they work less effectively against tick but does a good job at repelling mosquitoes. This may mean that when used, it may help reduce the chances of a tick attaching onto treated areas but could pursue untreated areas.
Why Protect with a Tick Repellent?
Deer, birds, dogs, livestock and other animals are where you are likely to find ticks, bloodsuckers that they are. These animals are what we, humans, encounter the most. Especially for those who love animals, the exposure to ticks is higher. Ticks also love to dwell in wooded areas where moist is heavy as well as grassy meadows and hiking paths. If you frequent such areas, you are likely to be exposed to ticks, too. They see you as a potential host for their feeding needs. Hence you need to protect yourself. Below are some suggestions:
- Being the most vulnerable parts of your body, secure your feet and your ankles. You may be wearing shoes but nymphs and larva can attach themselves to a pair which serves as a gateway to your home. Apply a tick repellent product on your shoes to create a powerful barrier.
- When venturing out into your yard or the woods and other areas where ticks are present, wear light colors so you can easily spot a tick and be able to quickly brush it off.
- Avoid coarse fabrics where ticks can easily fasten itself. Wear smoother fabrics instead.
- Tuck the edges of your pants’ legs inside your socks when venturing out into tick-infested areas to keep them from crawling underneath your clothes.
- When on hike trails, keep away from tall grass or undergrowth. Avoid brushing into bushy plants. Don’t let your hair hang loosely. Cover it or if long, have it braided or tied neatly.
- Check for ticks before heading home and again once you get home from places where you have been exposed to ticks. Put your clothing in the wash immediately then the dryer in high heat that can kill ticks.
Using tick repellent that is safe for human use is one of the steps that you can protect yourself from ticks. However, if you are one who frequents places where ticks may be thriving, it also pays to regularly check for ticks. If you find one attached on your skin, use a pair of tweezers to remove it or you can opt for a tick remover kit, a product offered in the market that effectively removes attached ticks better and more effectively than tweezers.
Nothing Beats Being Prepared
Ticks are stubbornly persistent in finding their way into getting their nourishment. The smallest breach in your defense could spell disaster for you. Always make sure that you play it safe and that you are always prepared where ticks are concerned. When venturing into tick environment or if you regularly do yard work, consider the use of tick repellent, DEET or permethrin, whichever works for you. But please take note that when doing so, always use with care and make sure to strictly follow manufacturer instructions.