As we enter the Fall months in the North East, hiking, camping, and outdoor activities are at an all time high for many individuals and families. Cases of Lyme disease are on the rise and Lyme disease can be very challenging to diagnose, as depicted in this recent NY TIMES Article. Dr. Rebecca Baxt, Board Certified Dermatologist reviews her top 5 tips to avoid Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease can be very debilitating, especially when you do not know that you have it and it becomes chronic, causing severe fatigue and other problems. Lyme disease can be silent and have no symptoms, or can have a bulls eye rash, or very commonly arthritic pains in the joints.
Tip #1: Wear Protective Clothing
When in the woods or high grassy areas, or anytime you are outdoors really, wear long pants, long shirts, and preferably socks to prevent ticks from attaching to the skin.
Tip #2: Use Bug Spray
20% DEET is usually effective to repell ticks and other bugs to prevent bites. If you don’t want to put it on your skin, you can spray some on your clothing, or use permethrin spray on your clothes and then wash them before wearing. The permethrin spray lasts for many washings.
Tip # 3: Shower
After being outdoors, shower and wash well when you are done with your activities, hopefully removing any bugs as well as dirt or allergens.
Tip #4: Do a Tick Check
Check yourself for ticks before bed every day during tick season (generally may to November but with global warming this may increase) or when you are exposed. Check the groin and under the arms and back of the neck etc, as well as the whole body and feel your scalp to make sure there are no bumps. If you find a tick, do not panic, remove it with a tweezers if possible, and save it in case you want to test it bring it to your dermatologist to see what type of tick it was. Not all ticks carry lyme disease.
Tip #5: See a Doctor
If you have a rash, see a Dermatologist. Lyme disease sometimes presents with a rash. It can be a bug bite , that then expands into a bullseye and gets larger and red. It is sometimes itchy. The tick may be long gone, but it can leave the signs of lyme disease and we always like to catch it early when it is easily treatable, typically with a three week course of doxycycline antibiotic.
We hope that by following these 5 tips you and your family will avoid Lyme disease!