Temperatures are rising and days are getting longer—it's summer! While it's a great time of year for outdoors activities, the warmer weather, sunshine and longer days do present some seasonal health concerns. Here are some tips and information to help make this summer a great one and a healthy one.
Summer months bring about lots of fun outdoor activities, but with those activities come an increased risk of encountering a tick. Although these small creatures might not seem like a threat to health, they can be carriers of serious diseases.
How to avoid them
It is simple to be proactive in preventing an encounter with ticks. Using repellents directly on the skin that contain 20% or more DEET will help keep ticks away for several hours. The spray can be used on children, as well. Pretreating clothing, boots, socks, and tents can help keep the ticks away. When treating clothing, it is important to make sure the repellent products contain at least .5% of permethrin. Clothing repellents are able to last after several washes.
Checking for ticks
After taking a hike or leaving tall grass areas, it is important to do a full body tick check. Using a mirror, check under arms, behind ears, around the waist, and in hair, because these are areas where ticks like to take up residence. If at all possible, take a bath or shower within two hours of returning from outside. Bathing or showering will help wash off ticks that have not yet implanted themselves. If there are pets in the home that go outside, it is important to continually check their fur for ticks. Ticks are easily carried into homes by way of pets.
After a tick bite
Some common symptoms of tick bites are: fever, chills, body aches, and rashes. After the tick is removed, the bite should be monitored. The site of the tick bite can be a clear indicator if the tick carried a serious disease or not. For example, if the tick was a carrier of Lyme disease, the area around the bite usually will have a clear circle around it. Another common tick related rash to look for resembles a "bull's eye." The CDC has a very thorough symptoms list that shows what to look for after a tick bite at https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/symptoms.html. If these symptoms are presented, it is important to go to the doctor as soon as possible to treat the bite. The earlier the treatment begins, the less likely serious complications occur.
Where to get help
If after a tick bite you begin to experience any of the symptoms listed above, it is vital to see a physician immediately. If you have a primary care physician, they will be able to provide the necessary care to treat the bite. If you do not have a primary care physician, Augusta Health has four Urgent Care locations: Staunton, Stuarts Draft, Waynesboro, and Weyers Cave. Each of these locations will be able to provide the care needed to address the tick bites.
For more information, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html.