As the warmer months approach, we tend to spend more time outside enjoying the summer sunshine.
However, what many people are unaware of is the health risk lurking within the tall grass.
Ticks are small insects that latch on to animals and humans and suck their blood, and most commonly reside in woodlands and heath areas, or in areas where livestock live. Although the vast majority of ticks are harmless, some do carry bacteria which can cause Lyme disease. Experts suggest that roughly 2,000-3,000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in England and Wales each year, and with this comes the debilitating symptoms including rashes, fatigue, headaches, and poor sleep. However, the incubation period may last up to three months.
As there is currently no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease from spreading, health experts suggest the following to reduce your risk of infection:
Don’t go astray
As ticks cannot jump or fly, it takes direct contact with foliage for the insect to make its way on to you. By sticking to footpaths and avoiding long grass, you can significantly cut down your risks of any direct contact to bugs.
Citriodiol is a lemon eucalyptus extract, which is a great natural repellent for many insects and bugs, and studies have suggested that this extract is particularly effective at reducing the number of tick bites. Try the Repellent Band from Theye (£4.99, available from www.theye.co.uk), which contains this natural alternative to the harsh chemical, DEET, found in many insect repellents.
Wearing full length trousers, and long sleeved tops will create a physical barrier between any ticks and your skin. Try tucking your socks into your trousers, especially in long grass, as this can prevent ticks latching on to skin around your ankles. Light coloured clothing will also help to spot ticks that have clung to clothing.
Check yourself out
After spending time in areas where ticks are prevalent, it is important to check your body for any ticks that might have bitten you. They will look like a small black dot, and can be easily removed using a tick remover, or carefully with tweezers, gripping it as close to the skin as possible. If in doubt, contact a health professional.
Dogs and cats, being closer to the ground, are much more susceptible to picking up a tick when walking outside. To ensure this does not get inside the house, and to preserve the health of your pet, check your animals’ skin after a walk.