Ticks. The mere mention of them can make a jogger or hiker uncomfortable. They’re tiny, can burrow into your skin, and can carry a number of devastating diseases, particularly Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
However, if you find a tick on you, don’t freak out. The American Academy of Dermatology recently released a simple four-step process to remove a tick, courtesy of dermatologist Linsay Strowd:
1. Remove the tick with tweezers. It’s best to sterilize the tweezers first, and grab the tick as close to the skin as you can.
2. Pull upwards with steady, consistent pressure. Don’t yank! The last thing you want is the head or mouth to break off, at which point you may need to see a dermatologist.
3. Dispose of the tick. This can be done a number of ways, such as placing it in a sealed bag or jar, or submerging it in alcohol. You may want to hold onto it so the tick can be tested for disease if you develop symptoms.
4. Clear the bite mark with soap and water.
Additionally, Strowd provides a number of tips to avoid tick bites:
1. Walk in the center of trails. This should be pretty obvious, but avoid walking in tall grass or bushes, especially if you’re wearing shorts.
2. If you absolutely have to walk in a wooded or bushy area, use long pants or long sleeves. Again, don’t walk in bushes or tall grass with shorts. Seriously.
3. Use insect repellent with 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothes. Yes, clothes too.
4. Check your skin after walking in heavily wooded areas. Ticks prefer warm, moist areas like armpits and hair, so make sure to check those areas.
Strowd made sure to stress that most ticks do not carry disease, but there’s nothing wrong with playing it safe.