NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If you’re going away this weekend, don’t forget your sunscreen and insect repellent.
Experts say this is one of the worst tick seasons ever, which means a greater risk of lyme disease.
By now, you’ve probably heard the best strategy against lyme disease and tick bites is prevention. CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez recommends using DEET insect repellent, especially around the ankles. Tucking long pants into socks also helps keep the little crawlers away. But nothing is perfect, so there’s still a chance you’re going to get bit.
“This is when we’re seeing the largest uptick, if you will, in cases of bites coming in,” Dr. JD Zipkin, of Northwell Go Health Urgent Care, said.
That’s why he says it’s so important to do a full body check after you’ve been outdoors, even if it’s just walking around a park.
“We find ticks bite people anywhere, but in particular we should be taking particular care to look in warm, secluded areas of the body, like armpits, thighs, behind the ears, and also taking extra precaution around the scalp,” he said.
If you do find a tick that’s biting, it’s important to remove it right away, because it can take as long as three days to transmit lyme bacteria.
Here’s how to do it: With tweezers, grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly and gently straight up, Gomez reports. Then, wipe the bite with alcohol. Also, put the tick into a baggie or jar so a doctor can identify the type of tick. They don’t all transmit lyme.
About 80 percent of lyme bites cause a rash, usually like a bullseye, but not always.
“Other symptoms besides the classic bulls eye rash is flu-like symptoms, just feeling miserable. That should be distinguished from normal cold symptoms like cough, sore throat, runny nose, which usually indicate other types of illnesses,” Zipkin said.
If you even suspect a tick bite or have some symptoms, see a doctor right away, because the sooner you start antibiotics, the easier it is to cure lyme disease. Later stage or chronic lyme disease can cause some nasty symptoms and be very hard to treat.