Ticks and mosquitoes present the biggest threat to a hikers health on the trail. When these bugs bite you, they can transmit diseases like Lyme, Babesiosis, West Nile, and Zika - to just name a few. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that each year more and more people are contracting tick and mosquito-borne diseases, with numbers tripling since the 1990s. Even though this might be alarming, this shouldn’t keep you from hiking in the woods, but it should motivate you to take the necessary preventive measures to protect yourself from this danger.
Tick Preventive Measures
Stay in the Middle of the Trail: When walking through tall grasses or bushy areas, try to stay in the center of the trail. Ticks love to hang out on these types of plants and wait for a victim to come close by to latch onto.
Wear Appropriate Clothing: Wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt can help cover and protect your body from ticks. Also, wearing light colored clothing can make it easier to spot them.
Apply Insect Repellent: Any areas of exposed skin should be sprayed with insect repellent. The CDC recommends using DEET, Picaridin, and Oil of lemon eucalyptus. A lot of the natural repellents on the market have mostly been proven to be ineffective.
Use Permethrin: Treat your clothing and gear with Permethrin (pur-meh-thrin). It’s a safe insecticide that kills ticks on contact. You can also buy clothing that is pre-treated with Permethrin.
Daily Body Check: It’s important to do a full body check at the end of each day. In really bad tick infested areas, you might even want to check yourself several times throughout the day. Ticks will tend to gravitate to warm spots on your body, like between your legs, armpits, back of the knee, and at your waistline. The sooner you find a tick on you and remove it, the better your chances are of not getting infected by them.
How to Remove a Tick
Grab the ticks head with tweezers as close to your skin’s surface as possible.
Pull it straight out with a steady motion. Don’t twist or jerk the tick, because this could cause part of it to break off and remain in the skin.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area with soap and antiseptic ointment.
If you still see bits of the tick left, try to remove them with the tweezers. If you can’t get them out, leave them alone and let the area heal.
For the next couple of weeks you will want to monitor yourself for symptoms like, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, headache, fever, and/or a rash. If this occurs, you may have contracted a tick-borne disease and you will want to seek medical assistance right away.
Mosquito Preventive Measures
Wear a Head Net: When the mosquitoes are thick and swarming around your head, a head net can be the one thing that keeps you from going crazy.
Apply Insect Repellent: Any areas of exposed skin should be sprayed with insect repellent. The CDC recommends using DEET, Picaridin, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. A lot of the natural repellents on the market have mostly been proven to be ineffective.
Use Permethrin: Treat your clothing and gear with Permethrin. It’s a safe insecticide that kills mosquitoes on contact. You can also buy pre-treated clothing with Permethrin.
Avoid Dawn and Dusk: Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. If you’re hiking in a particular area where these insects are prevalent it would be good to plan on staying inside your shelter during these times of the day.
Choose the Right Clothing: One of the best ways to protect yourself from mosquitoes is to cover up as much as possible. The more skin you have exposed, the more likely you will get bitten. You will want to wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt.
Camp Away from Water Sources: Water sources is where mosquitoes breed and hang out at, so you will want to avoid camping near them. Try to find a location that has a slight breeze. This usually keeps the mosquitoes at bay.
Even though ticks and mosquitoes pose a significant threat to hikers in the woods, the truth is that if you educate yourself about preventive measures and follow those guidelines your risk of contracting a disease from these bugs will be extremely low. So, enjoy yourself out there in all the natural areas we have on this planet, but always make sure to take the necessary safety precautions.
Do you have a question about tick and mosquito prevention? Leave a comment down below
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