Preventing and Removing Ticks
Before You Go Outdoors
Know where to expect ticks
Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals, so spending time outside camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood, so always be on the lookout when you are in one of their preferred environments.
Treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin
Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear and remains protective through several washings.
Use EPA-registered insect repellents
These repellents should contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA's helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions, especially with children. Do not use any insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old, and do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
If you work outdoors...
Find more information about protection at the NIOSH Tick-Borne Diseases Workplace Safety and Health Topics.
After You Come Indoors
Check your clothing for ticks
Ticks may attach to clothing. Remove any ticks and wash clothes, or put them in the dryer if damp. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, you may need to dry them longer. When washing clothes first, use hot water; cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively.
Check your body for ticks
Conduct a full body check when coming inside from potentially tick-infested areas, even your back yard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check you and your children for ticks after coming indoors.
Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease, and it may be effective in reducing the risk of other tick-borne diseases. Showering may also help wash off unattached ticks, and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
If You Find An Attached Tick
Remove the tick immediately
Grasp the tick with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. If you do not have tweezers, avoid removing the tick with your bare hands if possible. For more information about removing ticks, see the CDC's tick removal page. If possible, note distinguishing characteristics of the tick using the Ticks in Tennessee page and see if you can identify it. This information will be useful in case you develop signs or symptoms.
Watch for signs of sickness
Monitor your health to see if a rash or fever arises in the days and weeks following the bite. Your risk of getting a tick-borne disease depends on many factors, including where in the state you live, the type of tick that bit you, and how long the tick was attached. Be sure to see a healthcare provider if you become sick after a tick bite (i.e. have a rash or a fever).
Reducing Ticks in Your Yard
Modify your landscape to create tick-safe zones
Certain steps may help reduce ticks in and around the yard. Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes regularly. Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas. Keep play areas and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation.
Consider using a chemical control agent
Tick control chemicals are effective for a homeowner to use, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert.
Remove plants that attract deer, and construct physical barriers to help discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them.
Preventing Ticks on Pets
Use a tick prevention product
Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases. Vaccines are not available for most of the tick-borne diseases that dogs can get, and they don't keep dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, it's important to use a tick prevention product on your dog.
Talk to your veterinarian
Consult with a veterinarian to see which tick prevention product is right for your pet. For more information on animals and health, see the CDC's Preventing Ticks on Your Pet.
Resources for Hunters
Because hunting takes place outdoors, usually in wooded or brushy areas, hunters are at an increased risk of getting bitten by a tick and potentially contracting a tick-borne disease. Therefore, hunters may benefit from reading further information about specific precautions to take while hunting outside.
The following links are great resources for hunters to follow in order to protect themselves from tick bites in Tennessee.
Resources for Children
It is important for children to understand what ticks are, why they are dangerous, where they are found, and how to check for them on their bodies. This education can and should begin at a young age, using materials designed for young readers.
The following links are CDC resources that can be used in classroom, community, or home settings to teach Tennessee children about the dangers of ticks.
Content derived from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/media/stopticks.html.