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How to avoid ticks and lime disease when playing outdoors!

Updated on May 25, 2010

Another nymph tick

These are tiny and are hard to spot!
These are tiny and are hard to spot!

Ticks and outdoor sports

You have decided to go outside and enjoy the outdoors! Good for you! Regardless of whether you are hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, working, playing airsoft, paintball or outdoor laser tag, you should be prepared for the ticks, as they can cause an untold amount of frustration!

It is especially annoying when you are prepared to hunt for example. Being prey to ticks is the last thing on your mind!

Many woodland areas in the northeast are infected with deer ticks. These range in size from 1mm nymphs (green) to 7-8mm adults. If you find a tick on you, google how to remove ticks and follow instructions, based on how deep the tick is. Then, SAVE THE TICK! Most people throw them out in disgust. The tick can be tested by the doctors office to tell if you you are at risk of an infection!


Deer Tick Nymph

Being prepared

There are a few things that you can do to prepare yourself for an outdoor trip and minimize your risk of tick exposure. I had one tick on me in all of my time playing airsoft in the North East, at fields that had heavy tick presence!

Here's what you can do:

  1. Don't wear shorts and sneakers to densely overgrown forests or bushes. It is just too easy to pick up a tick from the ground this way. Wear military boots or hiking boots if you intend to play outdoor. These tall boots make it easier to tuck your pants in and apply bug spray.
  2. Wear long sleeved clothing. Unlike mosquitoes, ticks cannot penetrate your clothing and have to find a way in through an opening. Wearing long sleeved clothes reduces your risk of exposure.
  3. Wear a hat and spray it with bug spray. Looking for nymph ticks in your hair is not fun!
  4. Get bug spray and apply it to these areas: Ankles, groin, belt area, arms, neck, hat/hair. You may also spray a bit on your backpack to avoid bringing ticks home. Recommended rating of 40 aerosol form, less if you are sensitive to bug spray.
  5. If you are wearing boots, you may either tuck your pants in the boots or wrap them around the boots and tape them up with electric tape. Combined with bug spray, this prevents bugs from crawling up (very useful if you are going to be laying on the ground - airsoft, paintball, hunting, laser tag, etc)
  6. When you return home, go to the bathroom, remove your clothes and examine yourself with a mirror to check for ticks. If you find a tick, it would've been there for a short period of time and would be easier to remove. You also dramatically lower your risks of lyme disease, because it takes time to become infected! Save the tick
  7. Looking for ticks in your hair is tough. While you can feel mature tick (they are about 6mm, round shaped), the nymphs are simply too small to be felt. This is why it's recommended to have another person look through your hair. They are looking for: 1mm, green color ticks to 7-8mm Brown-black ticks.

What to do if you don't have bug spray - ask around, someone in your group might have it. Apply bug spray, and make sure your kids do as well!

Afterword

Most tick bites are painless, as they secrete local anesthetics. If you find a tick in you a few days after the bite, and the tick is deeply embedded, the best course of action would be to go to a doctor and have the tick removed. Pulling a tick that's deeply embedded may cut its head and leave it in you, causing more problems.

Going to a doctor after a tick bite is a hassle. I'm alergic to tick bites, and the 2 ticks that bit me in the past 3 years left a very slowly healing marks. Prevention is key!

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