19792 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Reducing Your Risk of Lyme Disease

    The keys to reducing the risk of Lyme disease are to:
    • Avoid ticks in the areas where you live and work
    • Protect yourself from getting a tick on your body
    Reducing or avoiding tick habitats can reduce your chances of being bitten. To do this:
    • Avoid moist, shaded, wooded, or brushy areas.
    • When walking in the outdoors, stay on cleared, well-traveled paths, and walk in the center of trails to avoid overgrown grass and brush.
    • Avoid sitting on the ground or on stonewalls.
    • Remove leaf litter, brush, and woodpiles from around your home and the edges of your yard.
    • Mow the grass often.
    • Discourage animals that carry ticks from coming onto your property.
    Proper clothing can help protect you from tick bites. When spending time outdoors in areas where there may be ticks, you should:
    • Wear light-colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. This makes it easier for you to see any ticks that may get on you.
    • Tuck shirt into pants and pants into socks. Wear a hat and enclosed shoes. This makes it more difficult for ticks to get onto your skin.
    • Put your clothes in the dryer for about 20 minutes after spending time outdoors. This will kill any unseen ticks.
    Apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothes and exposed skin. Carefully follow directions for use. Insect repellents containing permethrin can be applied to pants, socks, and shoes. When you return inside, wash repellents off your skin.
    The tick usually must be attached to your skin for at least 24-48 hours for the bacteria to get into your bloodstream. To ensure quick removal of any attached ticks you should:
    • Do frequent tick checks, including a naked, full body exam when returning from the outdoors. Remember that very young (“larval” or “nymph”) ticks can be very small, some not much bigger than a sesame seed.
    • If you find any ticks, do the following:
      • With fine-point tweezers, grab the tick at the place where it is attached, next to the skin.
      • Gently pull the tick straight out.
      • Save the tick in a small vial and mark the date.
      • Wash your hands and clean the tweezers with alcohol.
      • Report the bite to your doctor.
      • Watch carefully for any signs of Lyme disease, especially a rash at the site of the bite and/or fever; symptoms usually appear within 30 days of the bite.
    Doctors vary in their recommendations concerning taking preventive antibiotics following a tick bite. Antibiotic treatment given within 72 hours of a tick bite has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of developing Lyme disease. Treatment is indicated in locations where 20% or more of ticks are known to carry the Lyme bacteria. If bitten by a tick, you should check with your doctor to see if taking an antibiotic is appropriate for you.

    References

    Frequently asked questions. American Lyme Disease Foundation website. Available at: http://www.aldf.com/faq.shtml . Accessed October 5, 2008.

    Frequently asked questions about lyme disease. Infectious Diseases Society of America website. Available at: http://www.idsociety.org/lymediseasefacts.htm . Accessed October 5, 2008.

    Lyme disease. Lyme Disease Foundation website. Available at: http://www.lyme.org/otherdis/ld.html . Accessed October 5, 2008.

    Lyme disease. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymeDisease/ . Accessed October 5, 2008.

    5/28/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Warshafsky S, Lee DH, Francois LK, Nowakowski J, Nadelman RB, Wormser GP. Efficacy of antibiotic prophylaxis for the prevention of Lyme disease: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. J Antimicrob Chemother . 2010;65(6):1137-1144.

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