Experts have been warning us for a while that 2017 was going to be a bad year for Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses. Ticks thrive in moist, humid, wooded or grassy areas and all the rain this summer has made the Northeast a haven for ticks to survive. But while ticks can be dangerous and carry disease, that shouldn't preclude you from doing the things you love in the summer, especially getting out and enjoying the great outdoors.
Many people know to take preventive measures to protect themselves from ticks. Things like wearing long sleeves and long pants, using insect repellent, using a well worn path when hiking through the woods, and checking yourself for ticks afterwards. And while preventive measures are important, so is preparedness. What if you find that a tick has bitten you while you are still out on the trail? Being prepared for a tick bite means making your own tick kit.
A tick kit is easy to prepare, and more than likely, you already have the supplies you need to assemble it. So what items should you include in your tick kit? We're glad you asked!
- Tweezers – A pair of fine tipped tweezers are necessary for any tick kit. You want to make sure the tweezers will be able to grab smaller ticks close to the skin and pull it straight out without causing parts to break off or remain in the skin.
- Alcohol wipes – Once the tick has been safely removed, you will want to clean the area of the bite. Sterile alcohol prep pads would work best, but an iodine scrub would also work.
- Scotch tape – Once you remove the tick, use a piece of scotch tape to wrap up the tick or place the tick into a clear sealed bag. This will not only prevent the tick from trying to reattach itself to you, but you can hang onto the tick to show to your healthcare provider if you need to go for a follow up visit. Some people will even tape the tick to an index card so they can right down the date, time, and other details about where the tick was found. All of this information can help your provider determine the right course of treatment.
- Magnifying glass – Most ticks are very small, and it can be hard to see their tiny heads where you want to grab them with the tweezers. A magnifying glass or other small magnifier can help you grab the tick and pull it out more effectively.
- Tick removal instructions – When removing a tick, use fine tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. It may be helpful to have instructions on how to remove the tick at your disposal, so write them down on an index card and put it in a plastic bag and keep it in your tick kit. The CDC has great instructions on tick removal that can be found here.
- Band-aids – Tick bites are very small and don't usually bleed at all, but for kids, removing a tick can be kind of scary. Nothing makes a kid's scary boo-boo feel better faster than a band-aid, even if it's not necessary. Just be sure to monitor the bite for a few days afterwards to make sure it doesn't turn into a rash.
Whenever you go for a hike, go camping, or spend any time out in nature, bring your tick kit with you so you will be prepared in the event that you or anyone in your family gets bitten by a tick.