Gone Outdoors

How to Repel Ticks on Humans

by Wirnani Garner

Ticks are tiny blood sucking arachnids that live in cool and moist areas such as the woods. They feed on the blood of deers, birds, dogs and even humans. These tiny parasites position themselves in tall grasses and shrubs, and often along trails, where they can easily grab on to the skin of their prey. Once they are in place on human or animal skin, they cut a tiny hole on the skin's surface and attach their barbed snouts to suck blood. These snouts keep them attached to the skin, until they have finished feeding. Ticks are known to cause an inflammatory condition on humans known as Lyme disease characterized by the presence of skin lesions, overall fatigue, fever and chills. Protect yourself against tick and Lyme disease by being prepared when going hiking in the woods or other shrubby areas. Know how to properly repel ticks by applying the following tips.

Put ample amounts of Deet insect repellent on your skin, and spray some Permethrin (Duranon) repellent on the outer side of your clothings, shoes/boots, knapsacks, sleeping bags and tents. These insect repellents do not only protect you against ticks, but from mosquitoes, mites and chiggers.

Wear protective clothing when you explore the woods, parks or any given areas where there are lots of trees, bushes and tall grasses. Put on your long pants and secure their cuffs by inserting them in your long socks; as for your top, make it a long-sleeve shirt and tuck it in your pants, secured even more with a belt. It is advisable to wear clothings that are tightly woven so that ticks are not able to hang on to them easily. And as much as possible, wear light-colored clothings to make it easier to spot ticks when they cling on to you.

Try using effective natural repellents. Squeeze an ample amount of sunscreen on your hand and mix it with 10 drops of eucalyptus oil before applying it on your skin. Ticks hate the smell of eucalyptus oil, which makes it a potent repellent against them. Another natural tick repellent that's effective is the Neem oil. Apply some on your skin before going hiking or gardening. Neem oil is a vegetable oil made from a mixture of compressed fruits and Neem seeds (an evergreen tree found in India), and is known to be a very potent insecticide used against ticks and other pests.

Do a general body checkup after hiking or cutting bushes and grasses. With the help of a loved one or a friend, check for the presence of ticks all over your body -- from your ankles, knees, crotch, waistline, breast folds, armpits, neck and ears. Ticks love to settle on dark and moist areas, so give more emphasis to areas with skin folds. When you see one, don't panic. Just get a tweezer and gently pull it off your skin. Make sure that every part of it is taken off to avoid infection. Get rid of that captured tick for good by burning it.

Make your home tick-free. To repel ticks away from your home, remove thick shrubs and small trees, piles of leaves and tall grasses. Constantly mow your lawn, as ticks find it too hot to stay around short grasses. Keep your patios, decks, and playground away from thick bushes or trees. Plants some flowers that deers hate (such as ferns, tiger lilies and morning glories) to repel them and the ticks they carry.

Items you will need
  • Protective and light-colored clothing--long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks.
  • Natural repellents--eucalyptus oil, bay leaves, and Neem oil.
  • Plants that deer hate--ferns, tiger lilies and morning glories.
  • Fabric softener sheets

Tips

  • Ankles are ticks' favorite spot when they attack humans, so place an extra amount of insect repellent on them.
  • Be wary about the time of the month you're planning to go hiking. May, June and July are the peak months for tick activity (especially those that carry Lyme disease).
  • Try using fabric softeners to drive ticks away. Ticks hate the smell of it.

About the Author

Wirnani Garner holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and works in the medical profession. Her articles focus on health-related subjects, though Garner is proficient in researching and writing about a diverse range of topics.

Photo Credits

  • Creative Commons License, by: scragz, copyright: April 2006, Creative Commons License, by: lil ½ pint, copyright: may 2007, Creative Commons License, by: AZAdam, copyright: September 2005, Creative Commons License, by: ordinaryeverydayme, copyright: May 2008