The best ways to combat ticks this summer

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

Heading outside? Bring the bug spray! We’re in the thick of tick season, and experts predict 2017 will see more ticks and a higher reportage of tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease in some regions of the United States. Yahoo Finance spoke with Jeneen Interlandi from Consumer Reports on how to best protect yourself this summer.

Use bug spray

While the market may be saturated with tick-specific sprays, Interlandi says regular bug spray should do the trick.

“The same stuff you use to protect you from mosquitoes will also protect you from ticks,” she said. “What you want to pay attention to is the concentration of the active ingredient.”

Interlandi recommends using bug spray products that have 15%-30% DEET, or 20% Picaridin, or products with Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE).  

Consumer Reports reviewed and rated 25 insect repellants on its website.

When it comes to applying repellents, Interlandi says you should cover any exposed skin, like your hands, face and neck. If you’re planning to hike or spend extended time outdoors, you can also spray your clothing.

“You can spray your clothes while they’re hanging up, let them dry for about 15 minutes and then put them on and you should have really good protection,” she said.

Prepare and protect your yard

Interlandi recommends regularly mowing your lawn and keeping grass and weeds short as a natural defense against ticks.

“Ticks love dark, moist places. So the lower your grass is, the hotter and drier it it, [so] it’s not going to be friendly and inviting to ticks.”

Interlandi also recommends creating a “moat of mulch” that can act as a barrier between your lawn and the wooded areas ticks populate in. The wood chips can become hot, which will prevent ticks from migrating into your lawn.

Interlandi says you can also use products that can help prevent ticks without having to spray your yard, like tick tubes and bait boxes. Both products apply chemicals to rodents which prevent ticks from attaching and spreading in your lawn, without harm to the rodents.

“It’s not going to make your rodent population go up, but it is going to reduce your tick population. It’s a really good control technique–it’s child proof and you’re not spraying your whole yard with chemical,” she said.

Do a tick check

If you think you may have been exposed to ticks, you should shower right away, which will make ticks easier to see. If you can’t shower, examine your body thoroughly in places ticks would bite, like your armpits, groin area, neck, scalp and behind your ears.

Finally, Interlandi recommends throwing your clothes into the dryer on high heat, which will kill any ticks that may be hiding on your clothing.

And if you do see a tick, use a tweezer and get as close to the skin as possible–pull the tick straight out of your skin in an upward motion. While not every tick carries disease, if you want to be sure, place the tick in a plastic bag, seal it up and send it to your local health department for testing.

Have any other tick tips? Share in the comments below.  

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