Healthy Lifestyle

Stay tick-free: 7 ways to prevent tick bites

Adult man wearing a wide-brimmed hat and backpack with yoga mat hiking through the woods.


Ticks thrive in warm weather, and that puts you and your family at high risk for tickborne diseases. Learn how you can prevent tick bites and what steps to take if you do.


By Dr. Shashowt Ojha, Family Medicine Resident, Nuvance Health


Ticks may be tiny, but their impact on your health and that of your loved ones is anything but small. As spring approaches, gearing up for outdoor activities is exciting! But before you lace up your hiking boots or grab the leash for a walk with your furry friend, you should follow preventive measures to keep you and your loved ones safe from ticks. 


With the right knowledge and precautions, you can protect yourself and your family from tickborne diseases. Follow these essential tips to stay healthy while enjoying the great outdoors.


How do you know if you have a tick disease?


Ticks can carry illnesses such as Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Most tickborne diseases have similar signs and symptoms. The most common tick-related illnesses include fever and chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and rashes. If you or your family develop any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your primary care doctor.




1. Wear protective clothing.


Ticks have a field day in tall grass, leaf piles, shrubs and gardens — anywhere there is shade and moisture. When you are in these types of areas, it is important to dress appropriately to protect yourself from getting bitten. 


You can protect yourself from ticks wearing:

  • Light-colored clothing

  • Long-sleeved shirts tucked into your pants

  • Long pants tucked into your socks or shoes

  • Closed-toe shoes


Staying covered as much as you can is your first line of defense against ticks. Consider using netting over playpens and strollers to keep your children safe from ticks and insects.


2. Use insect repellent safely.


Repellents can help reduce bites from ticks and insects that carry diseases, but you need to use them safely and follow the instructions on the label. 


Follow these tips when using repellent:

  • Use an insect repellent that is registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

  • Look for products that contain ingredients like DEET, picaridin, permethrin or IR3535.

  • Keep repellent out of the reach of children.

  • Apply repellent outdoors.


Insect repellent can cause skin and eye irritation. If this happens, wash the affected area with water and reach out to your primary care provider if symptoms worsen.

3. Check for ticks.


Once you are back from outdoor adventures, check your skin and clothing for ticks. Pay close attention to hidden spots like your scalp, behind your ears, armpits and groin area. Ticks are small and oval-shaped with six to eight legs, and if they have latched on, their head will be buried into your skin.

4. Remove ticks quickly.


If you find a tick, remove it quickly using clean, fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as this can cause the mouthparts to remain in your skin. Dispose of a live tick by doing one of the following:

  • Submerging it in alcohol

  • Placing it in a sealed bag or container

  • Wrapping it in tape

  • Flushing it down the toilet


Wash the bite area and your hands after removal, and never crush a tick with your fingers. If you experience muscle aches, headache or notice a rash on your skin, make an appointment with your primary care physician.


5. Shower and wash your clothes.


Before you kick back and relax after your outdoor activities, take a shower and wash your clothes. Doing this helps remove any ticks that may be lingering on your skin or clothing, minimizing the risk of Lyme disease or any other tickborne diseases.

6. Keep your yard tidy.


Ticks normally hide in leaf piles, tall grass and shrubs and wait for someone like you, your children or even your dog to latch onto. Do your yardwork regularly to minimize the presence of ticks. Come up with a schedule to spread out your yardwork during the week so it doesn’t feel like you are spending your entire Saturday mowing the lawn and picking up sticks. 


7. Treat your pets.


Keep your furry friends protected by regularly administering tick preventatives and check for ticks often. Pets can bring ticks indoors, increasing the risk of bites for both them and your family. By prioritizing their preventive care, you not only safeguard their health but also lower the potential tick-related hazards within your home.

The bottom line: Ticks pack a powerful punch! By following these proactive tips, you are taking steps to stay healthy outdoors by lowering your risk of tick bites and preventing tickborne illnesses. Remember, if you develop symptoms such as fever, headache or a rash following a tick bite, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention from your primary care doctor.