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How to Prevent Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses in Summer

Friday, July 5, 2024


With the combination of longer days and warmer weather, everyone tends to be out and about more in the summer. Unfortunately, this also includes increased encounters with unwanted pests — such as ticks. These parasitic insects can cause serious illness when they bite by spreading bacteria, viruses, and other organisms.

But don’t let the fear of tick bites keep you from enjoying your favorite outdoor adventures this season. Here, we have some sensible tips to help you avoid these insects and the illnesses they carry through the summer and beyond.

A Quick Word on Tick-Borne Illnesses

Lyme disease is often the first condition that comes to mind when we think of tick-borne illnesses, probably because it’s the most common. Typically, the infection presents as a circular rash within the two weeks following a deer tick bite, and may eventually produce systemic symptoms like joint soreness. One round of antibiotics will clear up most cases when caught early. Even in advanced stages, there are treatment options, including a three- or four-week regimen of antibiotics or medications administered intravenously. But left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious issues, so seek care if you suspect you’ve been bitten by a tick.

But other, less common diseases can also be contracted through tick bites in the Southeast, including regional conditions such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis. Anywhere there are grassy or wooded areas, there’s at least a small chance of contracting a tick-borne illness — so it’s worthwhile to avoid these parasites the best you can.

Practical Tips to Prevent Tick Bites

Wear Protective Clothing

It would be impractical to wear long sleeves, pants, and tall socks every time you head outdoors, but there are times when these layers will prove useful. If you’re venturing into the woods for a hike or a camping trip, for instance, staying covered with lightweight clothing is your best defense against tick bites. The same goes for doing yard work. At a minimum, wear long pants tucked into socks to create a physical barrier.

When it’s too hot to stay covered up or you’re just relaxing outdoors, you might consider applying tick repellent instead. Products containing DEET are the most effective option, but note that they can damage synthetic fabrics and need to be reapplied frequently. Permethrin is another alternative that is used to treat clothing in advance, but cat owners should avoid the ingredient since it’s toxic to felines.

Maintain Your Landscape

One often overlooked tip to prevent tick bites starts in your backyard. Since the insects are more likely to dwell in overgrown foliage, it’s in your best interest to keep your lawn well-manicured. Mow your grass regularly, and create barriers to section off tick-free zones. If you want to keep wooded areas on your property, lay mulch or install pavers to prevent ticks from migrating into your trimmed grass.

Perform Tick Checks

Even after brief outings, check yourself and any family members who have been in grassy or wooded areas for ticks. Be sure to focus on “hidden” spots where the small, persistent bugs might attach, such as body folds, the areas behind knees and ears, around underarms, and on the scalp. On the days you spend time outdoors, have all family members bathe before bedtime. Lastly, check your clothing and gear, too, and launder any items that have been worn outside as soon as possible.

Treat Lyme Disease Quickly With SouthCoast Health

From treatment for tick-borne illnesses including Alpha-gal syndrome, to care for minor wounds and pesky symptoms, SouthCoast Health’s Urgent Care Clinic is your source for getting medical help quickly. With minimal wait times and a lower cost than emergency room visits, consider our walk-in clinic as a convenient alternative to the hospital for many non-routine medical needs. For other wellness concerns, schedule an appointment with one of our providers online or by calling 912-691-3600.

Whether you are looking for a primary care doctor or a pediatrician, or another medical specialist, SouthCoast Health has you covered with its wide range of world-class healthcare services, available throughout the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. SouthCoast Health has 120 physicians and medical professionals in 18 locations in Savannah, Richmond Hill, Pooler, Rincon, Baxley, Hilton Head, Hinesville, and Statesboro. SouthCoast Health offers comprehensive medical services including: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Allergy and Asthma, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Eye Care, Imaging, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Surgery, Clinical Trial Research Studies, Diabetic Self-Management Training Sessions, Dietetic Counseling, Laboratory Services, Massage Therapy, Optical Shop, Pharmacy, and Urgent Care.

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