Consumer Reports: Experts outline ways to avoid, treat tick bites

Posted at 8:17 AM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 09:17:52-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CONSUMER REPORTS/WTVF) — As the weather gets warmer, we're going to be spending more time outside. But that means you could come home with something you don't want - ticks.

Diseases spread by ticks are on the rise across the country, which is why you want to do what you can to protect yourself and keep from being bitten.

In some areas, tick season may have even started in the winter and by May, they’re in their element and out in full force everywhere.

“Ticks can be found from coast to coast, and the number of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, have been on the rise in recent years. So it’s really important to take the proper precautions,” said Catherine Roberts, Consumer Reports health editor.

Depending on where you live, tick activity and the kind of tick will vary. So, it’s a good idea to check your local health department for that information.

It’s also good to remember the best defense is a good offense: Make it difficult for ticks to bite you. That means if you’re out in a wooded or grassy area, be sure to dress correctly.

“You should wear long sleeves and long pants that are tucked into your socks to keep ticks from getting under your clothing. It’s also a good idea to wear light colors so it’s easier to spot any ticks that may be on you," Roberts said.

Also, before you leave your house, apply an insect repellent to any exposed skin as well as the outside of your clothing. Repellents that contain 15 to 30% deet earn most of the top spots in Consumer Reports’ tests, but Consumer Reports also recommends some products with 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus, or 20% picaridin.

Two of Consumer Reports' best buy options are Total Home Woodland Scent Insect Repellent and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8.

And when you get home, hop in the shower and check yourself for ticks.

“Showering can wash away any ticks that may be on your skin but not yet attached, and it’s an opportunity to check your skin for any bites," Roberts said.

If you’re bitten by a tick, don’t panic. Just grab a pair of tweezers and carefully remove it. The sooner you remove the tick, the less chance it will have to transmit disease.

Of course, you want to protect your pets too. There are shampoos and sprays as well as chews. But even if you're using one of these, it's still a good idea to check your dog's coat regularly for ticks, especially after they've been out playing in the grass.

Just like with people, if you find one, grab some tweezers and pull it out.