While we are excited to embrace the summer season, here at Pittsburgh Skin, we’re not quite as excited to welcome in one of Summer’s biggest nemeses: Ticks. In this month’s blog, we highlight some important facts regarding ticks, including how to prevent them in the first place, and how to remove them should your prevention methods fail. As always, don’t hesitate to call our office with any tick-related questions or to schedule a removal if needed.

Tick Tips

  • While more than 25 different species of ticks have been identified across Pennsylvania, four types of these ticks account for over 90% of bites/reports in the state. These include American Dog, Blacklegged, Lone Star, and Groundhog Ticks. Learn how to identify the different types of ticks here.
  • In our area, ticks are most active between April and October when the weather is warmer.
  • Ticks are more commonly found in wooded areas, but can also be spotted in more urban settings too. Be extra vigilant if you’ve been laying in grassy areas, or if you have a pet that spends extended time outdoors.
  • Ticks can’t jump or fly. They simply climb onto surfaces with the hope that a mammal will also come into contact with that surface so that they can attach and feed.
  • Ticks can be as small as a poppy see, sometimes making them difficult to spot with the naked eye.
  • Not all ticks transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, and most tick-borne illness requires the tick to be attached and feeding for several hours before infection occurs. No less, we always feel it is better to be safe than sorry, starting first with working to prevent tick bites

Prevention Methods

Tick prevention is paramount to preventing tick bites! There are many ways to be proactive against ticks this summer, including the following:

  • Some studies have shown that ticks are more attracted to light-colored clothing as opposed to dark. Consider wearing darker-colored clothing (socks, pants/shorts especially) when in wooded areas
  • Clothing, including shoes, can be treated with products containing 0.5% permethrin to help deter ticks. Sprays like DEET (10-30%) have also been shown to be safe and effective when applied to skin that cannot be covered by tick-resistant clothing (just don’t spay DEET directly on your face).
  • Showering immediately after time spent outdoors can help to wash ticks off the body efficiently, particularly if they haven’t latched into the skin quite yet.
  • Check yourself, loved ones, and pets daily after time spent outdoors. Ticks can be difficult to spot as they like to hide in bodily cervices such as under the arms, behind knees, around your waist, or even in and around head hair.

Removal Tips:

  • If a tick is found, it should be removed promptly to prevent Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses. Ticks can be removed at home with the right tools and training. Use clean tweezers and pull upwards around the tick with even pressure. Avoid using twisting or squeezing motion.
  • Contact Pittsburgh Skin if you’re unsure how to remove a tick, or are not confident about how long the tick has been present in the skin. If any Lyme symptoms are present (i.e. fever, rash, body aches), call our office immediately.