Ticks and the diseases they carry are on the rise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that tick-borne diseases have "more than doubled in 13 years," and seven new diseases spread by ticks have been discovered. Infected ticks that bite humans can spread Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan virus, and other illnesses. This is why it's important to wear the right gear on your next hike.
1. Wear a Long-Sleeved Shirt and Pants
When it's hot outside, you may be tempted to reach for a thin T-shirt and shorts to go hiking. However, the American Hiking Society recommends wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants to protect you from ticks. In addition, tuck in your shirt. Although it may not be very fashionable, you also want to tuck your pant legs into your socks. Some hikers even wrap tape around the tucked in parts to make them more secure, this will prevent ticks from crawling under your clothes.
2. Choose Darker Colors
Although light-colored clothing may keep you cooler and make it easier to see the bugs, they may also attract ticks. A study from Sweden found that ticks were more likely to end up on light clothing, so researchers recommend wearing darker colored clothes.
3. Wear a Hat or Cap
It's possible to get a tick infestation on the scalp, so consider wearing a hat or cap. The Washington Trails Association recommends wearing a cap with a flap around the neck to protect an additional part of your body.
4. Use a Tick Repellant
You may want to spray clothing, shoes, and other hiking gear with a tick repellant. Consider using one with permethrin, DEET, or picaridin. If you prefer natural sprays, the CDC recommends using products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) such as oil of lemon eucalyptus. Another option is 2-undecanone, which is an essential oil made from the tomato plant.
5. Try Permethrin-Treated Clothing
Permethrin is a synthetic compound that is similar to extracts from chrysanthemum flowers. It's a popular insecticide that can be used to pretreat clothing to protect people from ticks. One study found that ticks fell off clothes treated with permethrin and couldn't move or feed. Consider buying pre-treated clothing or doing it yourself by spraying an outfit with 0.5 percent permethrin.
6. Wear Closed-Toe Shoes
Whether you prefer hiking boots or sneakers, it's important to wear closed-toe shoes to prevent ticks. Don't wear sandals or go barefoot when you're hiking. Also, make sure you wear socks with your shoes, so you can tuck your pant legs into them.
7. Wear Gaiters
Gaiters are coverings that wrap around your lower legs and ankles, so ticks can't get inside your pant legs. They're usually made from stretchy material and fit over your pants. You can also find gaiters that are waterproof.
Ticks can carry different diseases, so bite prevention is important. Take a few minutes to plan your outfit before hiking, and you can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about ticks.