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Re: Tick tips and should I be afraid?

Hello, I'm brand new to hiking (Wisconsin) and have found way too many ticks so far. Have been using deet spray but planning on switching to picaridin lotion to put on top of my mineral sunscreen after hearing that deet can damage gear. I use an insect repelling neck buff as well. I'm also showering and checking for ticks after hiking.

Found a tick on my neck this morning despite multiple showers since hiking on Sunday (it's now Tuesday). Partner thinks maybe it came from our clothes in the hamper and found me at night. Our gear (backpack and such) and boots are kept in another room. Boots and trekking pole rubber tips get washed after hiking. I plan on buying permethirin spray for boots, gear and clothes for further prevention.

Years ago while camping, I got a bull's eye rash after a tick bite and I needed immediate antibiotics so finding all these ticks is really getting to me. Now for some questions: Should I not worry when I find a tick unless I show symptoms of a tick borne illness? I have pet rats who like to cuddle, do I need to be worried about us bringing ticks into the home that might get onto them? I also get pretty serious sun burns due to mild sunlight sensitivity and I'm wondering if I can put the picaridin lotion on top of my mineral sunscreen if I wait a while for the sunscreen to set in? I reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Do I also need to reapply picaridin lotion after that?

Thanks in advance for any advice or encouragement. I'm also a disabled hiker living with widespread chronic pain among other health issues. So I'm trying to find ways to cope with any obstacles! Take care, all.

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7 Replies

Ticks are serious as there are normally several AT hikers per year that have to drop out to the doctors due to their borne issues.  Picaridin does work and I recommend spraying on all exterior clothing (NOT Under Ware) including shoes.  Its good for quite a while but do remember to retreat  as directed.  If you do find that you've gotten a tick and remove it, watch the area for signs of infection (redness ring) and get to a doc if you find that...

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Additionally, if a tick has attached itself, put it in a Ziploc bag after removing it. If you do get an infection or need to see the doctor, they’ll appreciate having the tick with you for them to test. 

I just got back from an overnight here in Illinois - I had sprayed everything (tent, pack, clothing) with permethrin. But I also wore long pants (an enjoyable experience in 88 degree weather) and a long sleeve shirt/sun hoody. 

Also put on picardin lotion on any exposed skin. 

Didn’t have a single tick (and no issues with flies or spiders, either)

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“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I guess I should consider myself very lucky.  Although I despise the tiny critters, ticks don't seem to find me very palatable.  I have hiked regularly through a wide variety of terrain and flora, and very seldom find any ticks on me.  Even though I exhibited no symptoms, as a precaution, I recently was tested for Lyme, which came back negative.

Some suggestions, mirroring @Dad_Aint_Hip : Wear long pants, preferably light colored, so it's easier to see any ticks that may be on them.  Wear long-sleeved shirts, also light colored.  There are lots of lightweight, breathable options with good SPF, which should help with sun exposure as well.

Taking showers after a hike is always a good idea, both for ticks, but also any potential exposure to poison ivy or similar irritants.  In addition to your equipment cleaning protocols, you could seal your hiking clothing into a plastic bag until it's time to do laundry.

Remove any ticks you find as soon as possible.  Most, if not all tick-borne disease needs several hours (up to 24) to transmit to the host, so if you find one attached, the sooner it's removed, the less likely it is that you will have any long-term ill effects.  And, as @Gary2 mentioned, watch for any signs of infection.

Good luck!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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I use Picaridin lotion on exposed skin, treat clothes, tent, and backpack with permethrin.  Picaridin lotion stays on better than sprays. Even when ticks are horrible here I don't find any on me. I've found dead ones on my clothes and in my tent, but no live ones on me. Unlike @Dad_Aint_Hip , if it's warm enough for ticks, I'm wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts. LOL

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Hi @SILHiker !  Even though I espoused the use of long pants and long-sleeved shirts for avoiding ticks, like you, I usually wear shorts and short-sleeve (or no sleeve) shirts during the warm-weather hikes.  One other advantage of that is that I can usually feel any critters that might be crawling on me.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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Well, I tell ya, long pants and a long sleeve shirt sounded like the perfect plan until you start doing nothing but hill climbs and descents in 86 degree weather! LOL

No ticks but shorts would have been the more comfortable choice

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Thanks everyone for the wonderful tips! I'm feeling a lot more confident about tick management now. Definitely going to switch to lightweight long sleeves (good for my sunlight sensitivity too) and pants tucked into socks. Also planning on treating all of my gear with permethirin ASAP! Since I live in an apartment, I'm going to borrow my brother's yard for permethirin treatment and drying of gear. My concern is that any possible fumes (are there any fumes from permethirin?) might really irritate my pet ratties' sensitive lungs.

Can't wait to try to picaridin lotion in the wild because deet smells terrible (sorry deet) and it's hard to spray where I really need it due to coughing up a storm after spraying. Picaridin lotion doesn't bother my lungs at all (I have asthma) and it's easy to apply.

The other piece of advice I appreciated was to put any latched tick in a plastic baggy for identification purposes. A friend told me about an app called The Tick App where I reported the latched tick, where it likely came from, identification, etc. I believe it's for research purposes at UW Madison, Wisconsin. So I found that interesting.

Take care all! I'll continue to monitor this convo in case y'all have any more input.