Ticks are a part of nature, but that doesn’t mean you want to get them when camping. The fear of ticks and Lyme Disease can often discourage people from enjoying the great outdoors.
However, don’t let it stop you!
Here are some tips on how to avoid ticks when camping so you can enjoy your outdoor experience without getting bitten and infected with Lyme disease.
Let’s get into it!
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are arthropods that can often be found in grassy, wooded areas. They burrow into the skin of an animal or human and feed off their blood for around 24 hours before dropping off to find another host.
Ticks are small, blood-sucking bugs that can range in size from as small as a pin’s head to the size of an eraser. They have eight legs and are arachnids–meaning they’re related to spiders.
Ticks don’t jump, fly, or even drop from the sky. They reach out with their legs and grab onto a host animal to get what they need – blood.
Different kinds of ticks come in shades of brown or reddish-brown. Once a tick has been feeding on its host for several days, it becomes engorged and turns a greenish-blue color.
A person who has bitten will start to show symptoms within three to thirty days after being infected with the bacterium.
Most people don’t notice when ticks are biting them. If left on for too long, it increases their risk of contracting tick-borne illnesses that could be fatal.
What Are Lyme Disease Ticks (Ixodes Ricinus)?
Ixodes Ricinus ticks are the most familiar carrier of Lyme disease. It can be found in many parts of Europe and North America.
They feed off blood from animals such as rodents or deer; these may carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria which is what causes Lyme Disease in humans.
Ticks are known to bite. Most of these bites are harmless apart from itching or a slight pain as with many insect bites – but some ticks carry diseases that can be very harmful.
These ticks are so small that they can be difficult to spot. These ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see in their normal state (about the size of a pinhead to a match head).
However, when they are swollen with your blood after a bite, they are pretty easy to spot. The bite itself is painless, and it can often be difficult to know when you are bitten.
The troublesome ticks we are talking about here are black-legged or deer ticks, of which 1 in 5 carries the bacterium (Borellia Burgdorfer) for Lyme Disease.
What Is Lyme Disease (Lyme Borreliosis)?
Lyme Disease is a bacteria that infects people when bitten by one of these infected ticks. It can cause many problems if untreated. If you dealt with it within 24 hours, there should be no infection and no cause to worry.
If left unattended, in an average person, symptoms will start appearing from two days up until thirty days later. The longer you wait beyond this point without treatment, the more severe your pain may become.
The Lyme Disease symptoms can be:
- A spreading “bulls-eye” rash
- a feeling of ‘flu.’
- muscle, joint, or tendon pain
- muscle weakness
- a stiff neck
- sleep, sight, hearing, or digestion problems
- extreme fatigue
When the disease is caught early, it can be treated with antibiotics and should clear up in a few weeks. If not, then the effects are more extreme and may take up to several years to disappear completely.
The more severe health problems can be:
- chronic joint inflammation, particularly the knee
- neurological problems, which include facial palsy
- memory loss
- irregular heart rhythm or atrial fibrillation.
- difficulty concentrating or focusing
- mood changes
How Do Ticks Get On You?
When it comes to letting you know that you’re being bitten, ticks are a little stealthier. They can get in underneath your clothing and start to feed, and you may not even know that you’re being bitten.
What they do is they questing. Ticks actually will sit on vegetation and put their front legs out and wait for something to come by, and they latch on.
Ticks don’t drop from trees. They don’t jump either, so if you find a tick in your hair, it must have gotten there two ways.
Firstly is it crawled up there, or did you place it there. You had it on your hand, and you scratched your head, and when you placed it there.
The second way they get up there is when you’re rolling around in the grass.
Where Can These Ticks Be Found?
The ticks live in moist, warm places like forested areas or tall grasses. They’re hanging around waiting for a host to feed on.
They are found on wild animals such as deer, rabbits, or any other small animals such as mice.
Generally, these are found mainly in the NE, the mid-Atlantic, and north-central states of the United States in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York. (Source)
However, with the spread of deer populations, they can now be found in most parts of the United States.
The ticks that cause Lyme Disease are found in 65 different countries worldwide but predominantly in North America, Europe, and Asia.
It is believed to be spreading.
Peak times are spring and summer and sometimes fall.
Rocky Mountain wood ticks, brown dog ticks, Lone star ticks, and American dog ticks do not carry this disease.
Chigger bites are something else entirely.
Tips On How To Avoid Ticks When Camping
No one wants to go camping and then come back with Lyme’s disease. Here are some tips on how you can avoid getting ticks when you’re out in the wild:
Know The Areas Ticks Are Likely To Hang Out (If Possible)
Your first line of defense against ticks is to avoid areas where they are likely to hang out.
It includes wooded or shrubby areas with tall grasses and leaf litter, as these places provide ample opportunity for the ticks to latch onto passing animals or humans.
If you go walking in the woods, stay near trails instead of venturing into fields. Try to refrain from sitting directly on the ground that might have ticks live like fallen leaves.
When you’re at the campsite, one of the solutions you can consider is to keep your tent off the ground.
Use Tick Repellent That Contains DEET On Your Skin
A 2002 New England Journal of Medicine study found that among all repellents, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (more commonly known as DEET) was the most effective at keeping bugs off people’s bodies.
The best way to avoid ticks is by using a product with 20% – 30% DEET. You can spray it on your skin, and this will keep the pesky ticks away for hours.
Is it safe?
Yes! Several studies have found that DEET is just fine as long as you follow the instructions posted on the can.
The EPA agrees as long as we follow the label. Don’t ingest it. Don’t get it in your eyeballs, and you’ll be just fine.
Use Tick Repellent That Contains Permethrin On Your Cloth
DEET doesn’t kill the ticks, but permethrin does. Permethrin is made from chrysanthemums (flowers), safe, and provides long-lasting protection.
Permethrin tick repellant should be used or sprayed on your clothes only – not on your skin.
Use permethrin or equivalent on your clothes, especially around the waistband and bottoms of pants, boots, and tents but not on the skin.
After treating your clothing with Permethrin repellant, you are supposed to wait for two hours before you wear it.
And, don’t spray on clothing with direct contact to the skin like undergarments.
Protect With Your Clothing
If you wear long pants, you should tuck your pant legs in your socks. And your t-shirt tucked into your pants so the ticks can’t get into those areas.
Also, button-up shirts between each button because there’s an opening. The ticks can crawl onto there any day. In badly infested areas, people often use duct tape wrapped around the tucked-in socks.
Ticks are also easier to be seen in light colors clothes. You can protect yourself by wearing light-colored clothing (this allows ticks to be seen more easily).
So, the lightness of the clothing allows you to see the ticks when they’re on you. You can look and do periodic tick checks while you’re outside.
Check Your Body And Clothes After You Come Indoors
On your return from camping, check your body and clothes for any ticks, including the seams. If you’re going out with your dog and kids, check them as well.
Remember, ticks love warm, moist places. These are the body areas you should be checking:
- In your hair
- At the back of your head
- Around your ears
- Under your arms
- Between your legs
- Behind your knees
- In your belly button
If you can’t see your back, use a mirror or a friend to help. After thoroughly checking your body, it would be best to take a shower and wash your hair if possible.
Wash Your Clothes In A Dryer
When you go in, take your clothes off and throw them into the dryer. The one thing ticks don’t like is dryness.
So they’ll die pretty easily if put on medium to high heat for 10 minutes, at least. Anything on the clothing should be dead.
How To Remove Ticks
If you find a tick on your body engorged with your blood, you need to remove it as soon as possible.
The best way is to use a special tick removal tool designed to remove ticks. It will grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.
You can then pull it off gently. You don’t want to twist or jerk the mouth because this could cause ticks to break and make your skin disgusting with stomach contents.
These tools are handy if you have a dog!
They come in various shapes and sizes, but all will perform the above task efficiently. They can be found in most drug stores, particularly in areas where ticks are found.
Do not use folk remedies such as using nail varnish, petroleum jelly, or heat.
Dispose of by washing down the sink or toilet without getting any fluids on your skin. Alternatively, put the tick carefully into some rubbing alcohol for future reference if a doctor wants to do checks.
Clean the bitten area and hands with rubbing alcohol or something similar such as iodine or soap and water. See a doctor.
One of the best parts about camping is getting to enjoy nature, but it’s essential to take the necessary precautions when camping.
If you are bitten, see a doctor as soon as possible to avoid any serious health consequences.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. Please share it!