As the summer sun calls you to explore the great outdoors, hiking becomes an enticing activity. However, the threat of Lyme disease, transmitted through tick bites, should not be underestimated.
At Fairfield Family Health, nationally recognized naturopathic physician Jaquel Patterson, ND, MBA, IFMCP, and our team of experts located in Fairfield, Connecticut, use our expertise to precisely determine the cause of your symptoms and offer a range of effective Lyme disease treatments.
In the meantime, we'll equip you with practical tips and insights on how to safeguard yourself against Lyme disease while enjoying your hiking adventures.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease, resulting from the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted via the bite of infected ticks. These ticks are commonly found in wooded or grassy environments, putting hikers at risk.
Early indications of Lyme disease encompass symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and the distinctive "bullseye" rash. If left untreated, the condition can escalate to more serious issues like joint pain and neurological complications.
Hiking with Lyme disease prevention in mind
As you gear up for your summer hikes, safeguarding yourself against Lyme disease becomes a crucial aspect of your outdoor plans. Let's delve into effective strategies for prevention that you can integrate seamlessly into your hiking routine.
The right attire
Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to minimize exposed skin while hiking. Additionally, tucking your pants into your socks and selecting light-colored clothing can facilitate the easy detection of ticks, further ensuring your safety against Lyme disease.
Use tick repellent
Prioritize your defense by applying an EPA-approved insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin. Make sure to apply this repellent to both your exposed skin and clothing, adhering closely to the instructions provided on the product label for effective and safe usage.
Perform tick checks
Following your hike, perform thorough tick checks on your body, paying special attention to concealed areas like armpits, groin, and scalp. This diligent examination is vital in detecting and removing ticks promptly, bolstering your protection against Lyme disease.
Post-hike Lyme disease prevention
As you wrap up your hike, your focus on Lyme disease prevention doesn't end. Taking post-hiking precautions is essential to ensure you're thoroughly protected against any potential tick exposure. Let's explore the steps to take after your adventure to maintain your safety.
After returning indoors, shower within two hours to wash off unattached ticks and perform a thorough full-body tick check during your shower. This routine is crucial in minimizing the risk of Lyme disease and maintaining your well-being after your hike.
Dry your clothes
To effectively eliminate ticks from your hiking clothes, keep in mind that ticks can withstand a washing machine but not a dryer. Give your gear a tumble on high heat for a minimum of 10 minutes to ensure these potential threats are eradicated, adding an extra layer of protection against Lyme disease.
Inspect gear and pets
Don't overlook the possibility of ticks latching onto gear or pets during your hike. Before entering your living space, take a moment to thoroughly inspect both your gear and your pets for any ticks, ensuring that these potential carriers of Lyme disease are not brought indoors with you.
While the temptation to hike in nature during the summer is tough to pass up, safeguarding yourself against Lyme disease is of the utmost importance. Understanding the symptoms and following preventive measures can significantly reduce your risk of contracting this tick-borne illness.
By dressing appropriately, using tick repellent, performing tick checks, and taking post-hiking precautions, you can enjoy your outdoor adventures without the shadow of Lyme disease looming over your exploration.
If you’re ready to learn more about Lyme disease prevention and treatment options, give us a call at 203-254-9957 or use our online booking tool to schedule your first appointment with Dr. Patterson today!