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3 tips prevent tick bite

3 Tips to Protect Your Kids from a Tick Bite at Summer Camp

Summer camp can be one of the most memorable experiences for kids. It’s often the first taste of independence, fun from sunrise to sundown, and making lasting memories. A sure-fire way to make summer camp a negative experience for a child is if they get a tick bite that leads to Lyme disease or other tick-borne illness.

For parents, it might be the first time your child is away from your supervision. Away from you saying ‘no’ to Fruit Loops for breakfast. Away from you applying sunscreen. And away from you applying tick repellent and doing a nightly tick check. Don’t panic. While these tips won’t help with the Fruit Loops, these 3 simple tips are easy to go over with your camper before they take off for a few weeks of fun.

Tip 1:   Dress the Part

Wear clothing that keeps ticks off your skin and makes them easier to spot, including:

  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Long pants
  • Socks, with pants tucked in
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • For long hair, tuck it under a hat
  • Click here for GLA’s complete Be Tick AWARE tick bite prevention guide

Tip 2:   Wear Repellent

Use both on-skin and on-clothing tick repellent to ask as double protection.

  • In choosing a repellent, check for EPA-approval, toxicity, coverage time, and side effects. Click here for GLA’s Tick Repellent Roundup.
  • Preferred ingredients for on-skin repellent: picaridin 20%, DEET, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Preferred ingredients for on-clothing repellent: permethrin. You can purchase clothing pre-treated or treat yourself.

Tip 3: Check for Ticks!

Check for ticks every day. Look everywhere, they love to hide! And remember, a nymph tick is about the size of a poppy seed; and adult tick about the size of a sesame seed.

  • On scalp, in hard and behind ears
  • Under arms and between fingers
  • On waist, back, belly button, and groin area
  • Behind keens and between toes

Before your kids head off for fun, go through these tips with them and show them how to apply repellent properly and perform their own tick checks.

GLA_3 tips_tick bite prevention_betickaware

Additional tools and resources:

  • Certified Camps: Is your child’s camp taking precautions against ticks? Click here to see list of GLA partner Ivy Oaks Analytics certified camps.
  • Check 4 Ticks poster: click here
  • Be Tick AWARE poster: click here
  • Tick Repellent Roundup: click here
  • Tick Table: click here
  • How to Remove a Tick: click here

Tips for Lyme Disease Prevention at Camp

It’s time for summer camp! Here are 6 easy tips for tick safety and Lyme disease prevention this season.

As staffers, parents and kids prepare for another memorable summer at camp, there is one important detail that must not escape our attention – doing everything possible to ensure that children are protected from the blacklegged ticks that transmit Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the U.S., with more than 329,000 new cases every year. These tiny ticks, no larger than a poppy seed, are active all year round, but they’re out in force during the summer months. tick_data-lazy-sizesUnsurprisingly, children are at particular risk for tick bites, especially as they spend time outdoors at camp. Unfortunately, these “nymphs” are so tiny, they’re often difficult to spot.

So, here are some suggestions to help protect campers and staff from tick-borne diseases:

  1. Know where ticks live. Ticks thrive in shady, wooded areas, taller grasses and leaf piles. When you plan outdoor activities, avoid having kids lean against tree trunks, sit on grass or on fallen logs. Ask campers to stay in the middle of hiking paths to avoid brushing against foliage and long grasses.
  2. Recommend tick-repellent clothing. While children are at camp, it is strongly recommended they wear clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills ticks and mosquitos on contact. Its formula is safe and EPA-approved, and can be used on clothing worn by children. Parents can spray it on their child’s clothes at home or can purchase pre-treated clothing and gear with the Insect Shield label from retailers such as LL Bean or REI. Parents can also send clothing directly to Insect Shield to be treated.
  3. Don’t forget to spray shoes. Since most ticks crawl onto people from the ground, spraying closed-toe footwear with permethrin is one of the best defenses against ticks. (One study found that those with treated shoes had 74% fewer tick bites that those with untreated shoes).
  4. Make sure campers use repellent on exposed skin. Studies show that EPA-approved repellents containing 20%-30% DEET, 20% Picaridin or 30% natural Lemon Eucalyptus oil are the most effective.
  5. Do full body tick checks. Tick bites are painless so it’s important for campers to perform regular tick checks after being outdoors and at night before bedtime. Teach campers to pay particular attention to areas between the toes, behind the knees and ears, armpits, groin, belly button, neck, hair and scalp.
  6. Know what symptoms to look for. Camp nurses and counselors should look for flu-like symptoms following a tick bite. Staff should also be sure to check smaller children for ticks and signs of Lyme.

This post, written by Scott Santarella, CEO, Global Lyme Alliance was first published by the American Camp AssociationFor more information about ticks and other tick-bourne illnesses, check out the ACA’s Ticks – What Every Camp Needs to Know.

Choosing the Right Tick Repellent for Your Skin by Bob Oley

Choosing just the right tick repellent for use on one’s skin to prevent getting bitten by a tick is a task not to be taken lightly.  Your health, and that of your family members, depends on it.  All tick repellents are not created equal; there are very important differences between them.  Some are made from organic compounds and contain essential oils, while others are made from synthetic chemicals. Some work for a few hours, while others work for longer periods of time. Whichever repellent you do decide on, you want to be sure it is repelling ticks for the allotted time you have set aside for the outdoor activity.

How Do Tick Repellents Work

Tick repellents applied to exposed skin, whether in liquid, cream or aerosol form, all work pretty much the same way.  The skin is the delivery system for the tick repellent.  Once the repellent is applied to the skin, the warmth of the skin and the temperature of the air cause the repellent to evaporate.  As it evaporates, it releases a vapor close to the skin’s surface that is repulsive to ticks, causing them to want to steer clear of it.  A skin repellents does not kill ticks, only repels them.  And once it is fully evaporated from your skin, it is no longer effective.  So it is essential to know how many hours the repellent is rated to effectively repel ticks before it has to be reapplied.  This information should be provided on the product label, and if not, do not purchase it.

Not All Insect Repellents Repel Ticks

There are numerous repellents on the market today that you can buy to put on your skin to repel anything from mosquitoes, to flies, to ticks.  Contrary to popular belief, a tick is not an insect like a mosquito or an ant, but an arachnid similar in anatomy to spiders and mites.  So what repellents may work to repel insects like mosquitoes will not necessarily work to repel ticks, no matter how much you apply to your skin.

In 2008 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), came out with a list of four ingredients in tick repellents that they determined were effective against ticks.  Those ingredients, which they recommended equally, included the three synthetic chemicals DEET, Picaridin, and IR3535 and the organic compound, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil.  If any of these ingredients are in your tick repellent, you can feel reasonably confident the repellent will work to repel ticks.  To be sure, check the product label, which must state that it repels ticks.  If it does not, choose another product that does.

A great source of information on tick repellents is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The EPA publishes a list of mosquito and tick repellents on their website, http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/, which repellents they have reviewed for safety and efficacy.  The listing breaks the repellents down by product name, hourly protection time, active ingredient, company name, and EPA registration number.  Once the EPA has reviewed and signed off on a particular repellent, they will give it a registration number, which is another important piece of information you should look for on the product label.  All repellents containing chemicals have to be registered with the EPA and tested for safety and efficacy, but not all repellents containing natural products come under this same requirement.  So be careful in picking out the repellent you will be applying to your skin, and always look for that EPA registration number.

What About Homemade Natural Repellents

Using a tick repellent you make yourself from essential plant oils known to repel ticks, while somewhat appealing to the more adventuresome, is an endeavor you have to be very careful about.  There is very little published information available on the efficacy of these plant-based oils in repelling ticks, which is one of the reasons the CDC only recommended Lemon Eucalyptus Oil from the many possible plant essential oils.  Some of the more common plants and their essential oils known to repel ticks include lavender, rosemary, peppermint, citronella, sage, garlic, cedar, and lemon eucalyptus.  So if you are inclined to make your own repellent as some are, you need to ascertain from your own experience with it, how well it repels ticks, and for how many hours, before you put your health and that of your family at risk.

Safety Concerns With Tick Repellents

As with any substances applied to the skin, you have to be careful how you use it.  Young children should not be allowed to put tick repellent directly on their skin; a grown-up should apply it.  Never put tick repellents on the hands of children so they do not accidentally get it in their eyes or ingest it.  Only apply tick repellent to exposed skin and not underneath clothing.  A health care provider should be consulted prior to using any type of tick repellent on pregnant women or infants.  And if you cannot use a tick repellent when outside, you should try to avoid those areas known to harbor ticks.

Product direction on a repellent’s proper application should be followed without using more than is absolutely called for.  Once the outdoor activity is concluded, it is always recommended to thoroughly wash those areas where the repellent was applied.  And most importantly, conduct a thorough tick check of your body.

So by all means take advantage of the outdoors, whether it is in enjoying your own backyard, or golfing, hunting, hiking, playing sports, or the like.  But be forewarned that where there are ticks, and that seems to be pretty much everywhere these days, there is the very real possibility of getting bitten by a tick, and becoming infected with one or more tick-borne diseases. Any one of these diseases can make you and your family members very sick, and they can be very difficult to treat.  Taking precautions like wearing tick repellent on your skin is one of several measures available to you to reduce the chances of getting bitten by a tick.

Preventing TBDs will Make You a Happy Camper by Bob Oley

Summer camp season has arrived, and you have probably packed your children for some memorable weeks away from home. Weeks spent in nature though will also carry risks, and you have no doubt done everything you can to make sure your kids are prepared. Unfortunately, there is a tiny but serious threat that you may not be fully-informed of: the deer tick.

Deer ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of a variety of hosts, including people. Children are especially at risk due to their predilection for playing in grassy or forested areas, particularly during the summer, a peak-time for deer tick activity.

One bite from a minute deer tick can infect you or your child with Lyme disease and other potentially debilitating tick-borne diseases including Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Bartonellosis, Mycoplasma, tick paralysis, and viruses.

Deer ticks, which can be no larger than a poppy seed during their nymphal stages, seek hosts by a behavior called “questing.” They do not jump or fly. Questing ticks perch on the stems of grass or small bushes, or on the edges of leaf litter or other vegetation, with their front legs extended. When a person’s body or clothing comes in contact with the extended legs of the tick, they will quickly grab on and search for a suitable place to bite, particularly around the legs, bottom, lower back, neck and scalp. Nymphal deer ticks will remain attached for several days until they become fully engorged with your blood and then drop off. Many people will never even notice that they were bitten.

Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can be treated most effectively in their earliest stages, so regular tick-checks at your child’s camp are key to early detection. If your children or camp supervisors discover a tick attached to them, the camp doctor/nurse should remove the tick using pointed tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. They should pull the tick straight out, taking care not to twist or squish it, and wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic.

Biting deer ticks will not infect someone with Lyme disease or one of the other tick-borne diseases unless the tick itself is infected. If at all possible, any tick that is pulled off of your child’s body should be sent to a tick testing lab for a determination as to whether or not it is infected with any disease organisms. After following the steps listed above, campers should contact their parents, who should seek the assistance of their family health care provider for advice on initiating prophylactic treatment. Time is of the essence and removing ticks promptly, and taking the correct precautionary measures for medical support and treatment immediately, can prevent the transmission of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

There are also preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of being bitten. If your children are at camp in forested or other outdoor environments, it is strongly recommended that you pack tick repellent clothing for them. You should provide four or five sets of treated clothing for them to take to camp. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks, and which has been approved by the EPA for use on clothing. You can treat your own clothing and footwear with permethrin spray (good for about five washings), or purchase pre-treated clothing (good for up to 70 washings) by brands such as Insect Shield, ExOfficio’s BugsAway or ElimiTick from retailers like L.L. Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work nearly as effectively as tick repellent clothing.

To further safeguard against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, campers should constantly monitor their own state of health. If they find they are developing flu-like or other unusual symptoms at camp, they should promptly seek assistance from the camp doctor/nurse. Anyone who wishes to seek medical help for Lyme or tick-borne disease is encouraged to contact a Lyme-literate doctor.

Lyme Disease, Deer Ticks and Campers by Bob Oley

Summer camp is right around the corner, and that means there are lots of details to be taken care of before your children head off to camp. One important detail that often escapes parents’ notice is providing their children with the necessary protection against tick bites, particularly deer ticks, during their stay at camp. Deer ticks are cesspools of disease, and they put your children at risk for Lyme disease as well as other potentially debilitating diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia and mycoplasma.


How can such a small bug cause such big problems for campers? Ticks are parasites that survive by feeding on the blood of hosts such as mice, chipmunks, birds, squirrels, rabbits and deer. Regrettably, they also feed on your children. While deer ticks are active year round, their peak season of activity begins in May and runs through September. During this time, the nymphal deer tick (about as small as a poppy seed) actively seeks a host, and its bite poses the greatest risk of infecting campers with Lyme disease and other tick-borne co-infections.

Deer ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be found anywhere their hosts live. Thus they can be encountered in a variety of settings including lawns, playing fields, woodlands, along woodland trails, as well as in leaf litter and brush piles. They can also be found near old stone walls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs, anywhere their hosts make their nests. They have even been found on picnic tables and benches. As alarming as it may sound, deer ticks are out there, just hiding in wait for your unsuspecting children.


When your children are at camp, it is strongly recommended that they wear tick repellent clothing. Other than complete avoidance of tick-infested areas, this one protective measure will do more good to protect your children from tick bites than any other. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as safe for use on clothing worn by children. As an added benefit, this clothing will also repel mosquitoes and other bothersome insects.

In addition, wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will provide added protection, but should be used in conjunction with tick repellent clothing. The tick repellent you choose for your skin should say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long it does so.


Some simple preventative measures, which are highly recommended for you and your children, include:

  1. Educate your children about ticks, including: the areas they as campers should try to avoid, the tick repellent clothes they should wear, and how to properly use tick repellents on exposed skin. Educating them about ticks is well worth the effort and essential in keeping them safe.
  2. Find out whether the summer camps your children are attending are aware of the dangers posed by ticks and whether they have a tick management program in place to protect campers from ticks. If they do not, it should be cause for concern. As a matter of course, camps should also notify children’s parents immediately when an embedded tick is found on one of their campers, as prompt medical treatment may be advisable.
  3. When doing outside camping activities, your children should wear clothing (T-shirts, sweat shirts, shorts, pants, socks) that is treated with permethrin. This is one of the easiest things to do, and it has big prevention payoffs. You can treat your own children’s clothing (good for 6 washings) or purchase pre-treated clothing (good for 70 washings) with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, LLBean, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.
  4. If you do not choose to treat your children’s clothing with permethrin, you can send their clothes to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina. Clothing will come back looking the same as you sent it but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for 70 or more washings. Visit the Insect Shield website, www.insectshield.com, for directions on how this can be easily accomplished.
  5. Spray outdoor shoes (sneakers, sandals, hiking boots, etc.), athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear, beach towels (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep ticks away. This protection will last for about 30 to 40 days when it will start to lose its effectiveness due to exposure to the elements.
  6. Make sure campers wear tick repellent on their exposed skin. The repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks. You can buy insect repellents with synthetic chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET, all of which have been approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as effective against ticks. If you prefer using organics, you can try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil. Most of these tick repellents will work for 4 to 6 hours, so they may need to be applied a couple of times per day depending on what outdoor camp activities are taking place.
  7. Teach children how to properly apply tick repellent. If children are younger than 10 years old, you may want them to seek the help of camp counselors in applying it.
  8. If your children attend a day camp, keep their outside clothes outside your home, as ticks can be on clothing from outdoor activities. When your children come home at the end of the camp day, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage if possible. As soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes. The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  9. Educate your children on how to conduct body checks for ticks following outside activities, as well as at night before they go to bed. Ticks like to attach around moist areas of the body, and can often be found between the toes, behind the knees, in the navel and groin areas, armpits, back of neck, skin creases, and hair. Your children can never check themselves too often for ticks, as they can be very hard to find.

When children arrive at camp, you want them to be able to enjoy themselves. By taking these personal protective and preventive measures for your children, you can ensure their camp experience is incredible. Don’t be hasty; your children’s health may depend on it. Take the time to follow through on these sensible recommendations. Educate your children about ticks and tick-borne diseases so when they do get to camp, they will be fully prepared for the ticks, which will surely be lying in wait for them.