It sure is a nice day to be out on the trail. The weather is nice. The mountains are incredible. Wow! Did you just see that? A deer just darted across the open field. What’s that on your leg? A new mole? It can’t be. It’s a tick. Fortunately for you though, you read this article, How to Avoid Ticks When Hiking – a Helpful Beginner’s Guide.
In this piece, I’ll cover what you need to do to avoid ticks and prevent them. You do not want any of the nasty diseases these bugs carry. After reading it, you won’t ever have to worry about a tick ever again.
Let’s get started.
It All Starts with Prevention
As Smoky the bear would say, ‘only you can prevent forest fires.’ The same goes with ticks. If you want to stop ticks in their tracks, then it all starts with prevention. The best way to avoid a problem is to not have it in the first place. A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure.
Wear long pants and long sleeves. Ticks can’t touch you if they can’t touch your skin. Every time I’ve gotten a tick on my skin it’s been because I wore shorts or a tank top or just a t-shirt. Ticks love free skin.
Now that you look super fly, it’s time to tuck everything in, pants in socks and shirt in pants. When you do this, you seal off your skin from crawling into your ankles or your waist.
Why do soldiers wear camouflage? So you don’t see them out in the wilderness. They blend in with their surroundings. You need to do the opposite. Wear light colors, so you can spot a big, black tick (just like in the image below). The contrast enables you to see them before they become an issue.
Protect your neck. If you survived the French Revolution, you can survive a tick. This, in other words, means you need to wear a hat with a drape to cover your neck in some fashion. This can be a cloth or a hat with a guard on it. A tick can jump down from a tree onto open skin.
I usually don’t do this because I like to keep things ‘au natural.’ But if you really want to do it, spray your clothes and yourself with tick repellent. Permethrin is a great tick repellent to put on your clothes. It works like a champ. There are natural tick repellents out there for your skin such as Lyme Armor and Tick Ban Yaya.
Avoid hot spot days. These tend to be hot summer days or even some surprise hot ones in winter. Ticks really like summer. They’re tiny and ready to pounce on you then. They’re in their most active growth stage, so they are more aggressive and more likely to jump on you.
What to Do During Your Hike
You’ve decided to set off on your hike now. You’re all protected. It’s time to play it smart and make good choices. Remember. We’re trying to prevent ticks from getting on you in the first place.
Stick to the trail. Ticks thrive off the trail because there is a lot more vegetation and more opportunities for them to get on you. Trails are cleared for hikers and backpackers, so they are less likely to get you there.
The weather is gorgeous today. It’s incredible. Be sure to stop every now and again to do a tick check. They always surprise you. Be sure to also check your backpack and gear. Ticks will latch onto anything they can get a hold of.
What to Do After Your Hike
Make one final tick check. You do not want to bring any home with you. That would be a bummer.
You’ve packed up your gear. You’re home now. Take a shower. You need to clean yourself up. It’s always good to feel nice and clean after a down and dirty hike.
If you can, submerse your clothes into a bathtub or a bucket. Any ticks you have on you will float up to the surface. Get rid of them by following step four in the next section. If you put your clothes and gear into the washer and dryer, the tick(s) won’t separate from your stuff. They’ll stay attached to only surprise you later. You do not want this.
Sometimes You Find a Tick: Remove it Properly
It’s okay. It’s not the worst thing in the world to find a tick on you. As soon as you see the tick, you want to remove it as quickly as possible. The longer a tick is on you, the more likely a disease is to develop.
- With a pair of fine tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. You do not want any parts of the tick to fall off and remain in the skin. Do not twist and jerk; this can cause tick body parts to remain on your skin. If you cannot remove the tick’s mouth, leave it and let the skin heal.
- After the tick is removed, clean the affected area and your hands using rubbing alcohol, soap and water, or an iodine scrub.
- Get rid of the tick by either burning it, flushing it down the toilet, submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, or wrapping it in tape. We do not want anyone to run into this tick ever again.
Whatever you do to remove the tick, do not crush it with your fingers. It might seem like you’re destroying the tick, but you’re not. You’re only spreading it on your body and risking disease.
Image Credit: Daniel X. O’Niel, Flickr
Are You Looking for a New Pair of Boots?
You should know all about preventing and removing ticks now. You know what to do. Don’t let ticks get you down. They are just a minor headache in the beauty of nature. When you run into them, it’s alright. It happens. Focus on enjoying yourself.
Before you go though, you are probably into hiking. A good pair of boots can last you many years to come. You should check out one of my previous articles, The Best Men’s Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boots of 2019. (I update this type of article annually and the boots come in comparable women’s pairs). If you want to hike for many years to come, then a solid pair will do you good.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!