Reduce your chances of getting a tickborne disease by using repellents, checking for ticks, and showering after being outdoors. If you have a tick bite followed by a fever or rash, seek medical attention.
Gardening, camping, hiking, and playing outdoors – when enjoying these activities, don’t forget to take steps to prevent bites from ticks that share the outdoors. Ticks can infect humans with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause serious illness.
Diseases that you can get from a tick bite include (listed alphabetically):
- Lyme disease
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Southern tick-associated rash illness
- Tick-borne relapsing fever
Before You Go Outdoors
- Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in moist and humid environments, usually in wooded, brushy, or grassy areas. You don’t have to visit the wilderness to come in contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
- Outdoor workers can find additional information at the NIOSH Tick-borne Diseases Safety and Health Topic.
After You Come Indoors
Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively.
Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, which even includes your back yard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
What to Do if You Find an Attached Tick
Remove the attached tick as soon as you notice it by grasping with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pulling it straight out. For detailed information about tick removal, see the tick removal page.
Watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever in the days and weeks following the bite, and see a health care provider if these develop. Your risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on many factors, including where you live, what type of tick bit you, and how long the tick was attached. If you become ill after a tick bite, see a health care provider.
Reduce Ticks in Your Yard
- Modify your landscape to create Tick-Safe Zones[6.82 MB]. Regularly remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas, and keep play areas and playground equipment away from away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation.
- Consider using a chemical control agent. Effective tick control chemicals are available for use by the homeowner, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert, and even limited applications can greatly reduce the number of ticks. A single springtime application of acaricide can reduce the population of ticks that cause Lyme disease by 68–100%.
- Discourage deer. Removing plants that attract deer and constructing physical barriers may help discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them.
Prevent Ticks on Animals
DEET, showers, and tick checks can stop ticks.