Ten tips for tick attacks


The 2014 field excursion season has arrived and so has the season for ticks!

Scale in cm

Here, in the ‘tick box’ below, are a few tips gathered from some members of the society who’ve had recent experience of suffering severe blistering from the bites and, more seriously, Lyme disease itself. A friend of mine spent some months in hospital after a bite from an infected Assynt tick.

1.   Remove tick as soon as possible. Do not squeeze. Easier said than done, but use good tweezers or borrow the tick remover from your dog/cat. A long thumb nail works well. Pull and don't twistNever cover with Vaseline. Disinfect the bite site.

2.   If you experience any of the symptoms below, seek medical attention. Antibiotics should work in the early stages of disease. Lyme disease can display various symptoms: the classic bullseye red ring (erythema migrans), blistering, or just some inflammation; feeling debilitated can also be a sign.

3.   Put DEET on skin (particularly round ankles and wrists) and on clothing. Re-apply.

4.   Wear long trousers tucked into stockings, and long-sleeved shirts. The tan is just not worth it.

5.   Avoid high bracken, keep to the path. Hah! No rock exposures on the path. Advice from some Forestry guys is never to be the first in line!

6.   Women should invest in a Shewee – comes in 3 different colours! Essential for bracken and heather-clad hillsides where the ticks are lying in wait for you!

7.   Take clothes off carefully (after the field trip) and if possible tumble dry or at least shake outside. Ticks survive for days hiding in corners. Tests have shown ticks survive a full wash and short drying cycle.

8.   Check for ticks in your hair. A red ring round one’s head as suffered by a member’s grandchild can be unnerving!

9.   Have a (very) good friend who will help with the tick hunt. Not just on that evening but a couple of days later. Ticks can hide in all sorts of places (see point 8 above), especially nooks and crannies.

10.  If you find a number of very small ticks, use sticky tape to capture them. Do not be fooled; these wee ones, once attached and feeding off you, can become big and infectious!

Seonaid Leishman

More information on ticks and Lyme disease can be found on the NHS Choices Lyme disease page and the Lyme Disease Action website.