How To Prevent Tick Exposure, According To Lyme Experts

Check out specially treated clothing for kids and adults, insect repellents for the skin and tick prevention tips from medical professionals.
Stay safe from ticks on your next adventure outdoors with this long-acting insect-repelling lotion, these mesh leg gaiters treated with permethrin and a <a href="" target="_blank" data-affiliate="true" role="link" data-amazon-link="true" rel="sponsored" class=" js-entry-link cet-external-link" data-vars-item-name="high-strength DEET spray" data-vars-item-type="text" data-vars-unit-name="62b4c25ce4b0cf43c8620846" data-vars-unit-type="buzz_body" data-vars-target-content-id="" data-vars-target-content-type="url" data-vars-type="web_external_link" data-vars-subunit-name="article_body" data-vars-subunit-type="component" data-vars-position-in-subunit="0">high-strength DEET spray</a>.
Stay safe from ticks on your next adventure outdoors with this long-acting insect-repelling lotion, these mesh leg gaiters treated with permethrin and a high-strength DEET spray.

It’s difficult to imagine that a week at summer camp or a day spent in the garden could expose you or your loved ones to a vector-borne disease that can have potentially long-lasting and chronic effects on your health.

But that’s exactly what’s at stake, especially if you live in higher risk parts of the country such as the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, where humidity levels are higher, said Dr. Samuel Shor, past president of International Lyme & Associated Diseases Society and a clinical associate professor at George Washington University.

“If not caught early, Lyme [disease] can have lasting effects on the brain and nervous system and potentially lead to cognitive impairment,” Shor said.

Lyme disease is transmitted through deer ticks, which carry the bacteria responsible for Lyme, explained Dr. Luis Marcos, an infectious disease specialist at Stony Brook Medicine, which is located in New York’s Suffolk County at the epicenter of tick-borne diseases. Lyme also happens to be one of the most common vector-borne diseases in the United States.

“Lyme disease is a growing problem for Suffolk County, with around 600-700 cases every year. Ticks can [also] be active year-round,” Marcos told HuffPost.

The American Camp Association, a community of camp professionals focused on enriching the lives of children through camp, estimates that 25% of all Lyme disease diagnoses in the country are kids, and that children in the summer camp-appropriate age range of 5-14 years old are considered a particularly high-risk group. It’s such a concern, in fact, that the ACA created checklists and codes of conduct to prevent tick bite exposure in summer camp settings.

Prevention is a good place to start when it comes to protecting yourself from ticks and Lyme, and according to Dorothy Leland, vice president of and co-author of the book, “When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide,” there are several repelling tools in the form of sprays, topicals and clothing that can reduce the chances of a tick bite outdoors.

“You should apply bug repellent to exposed skin. Studies show that repellents with DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil are the most effective against ticks,” Leland said.

Shor said DEET should be a first-in-line choice for tick repellent; however, if you are skin-sensitive to DEET, picaridin is a natural alternative that is most commonly effective against mosquitos and can be a sufficient substitute.

“It’s important to be proactive about the kinds of clothing you wear,” he added. “Stick to light-colored clothing because it can make it easier to spot a tick and tuck pant legs into socks and shirts into the waistband of your pants to prevent ticks from crawling under clothing.”

Leland said that you can also treat your clothing, shoes and gear with a spray that contains 0.5% permethrin, a synthetic insecticide, which can offer protection for up to five to six washes.

“You can [also] purchase clothing that has been pre-treated with permethrin and the protection lasts through 70 washings,” she said.

“If there’s one piece of information that I would want to impart,” Shor said, “it is that you need to be aware of your surroundings. We know that ticks like tall grass and heavily leaved areas. We also know that one of the most high-risk environments for tick exposure is when people are gardening.”

You can be proactive on your next outdoor venture or send your camper away with some precautionary items from following list. Find kid-safe repellents and clothing items that have been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as safe and effective measures to repel insects, including ticks.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

A protective insect-repelling hoodie for kids
This soft-stretch quick-dry cotton hoodie for kids has been treated with EPA-approved permethrin that is odorless and invisible on clothing. The addition of the lightweight hood and thumbholes on the sleeves provides additional protection against insects.
A long-lasting aerosol insect repellant that has a kid-safe concentration of DEET
Cutter's Backwood aerosol repellent contains 10% DEET, making it suitable for non-supervised use for kids, and can be applied to both skin and clothing for effective protection that lasts up to 10 hours. The sweat-resistant formula also ensures that you or your child can remain active in warm weather and still be protected from ticks.
A 50-pack of DEET-infused towelettes for protection on the go
For a more portable means of protection, these infused towelettes each contain 30% DEET that can be rubbed onto exposed patches of skin to provide up to seven hours of protection. The water-based formula is low-odor, non-greasy and non-staining.
A pair of kids’ anti-insect hiking pants with UV protection
These insect-repelling hiking pants for kids have been treated with permethrin and are constructed from a lightweight nylon that moves easily and dries quickly. There's an elastic waist for added comfort, even as kids grow, as well as UPF 50+ sun protection.
A permethrin treatment spray for clothes, gear and tents
Add an extra layer of protection to your clothing, shoes and gear with this unscented permethrin spray that bonds to fabric fibers and repels ticks and 55 other insects, including mosquitos. Available in both an aerosol or pump-spray formula, the treatment is effective for up to six weeks or six washings, and it won't stain or damage fabric and other surfaces.
A DEET-free oil of lemon eucalyptus spray that can be less irritating to skin
For skin that is sensitive to DEET, this oil of lemon eucalyptus-based repellent spray can be a botanical-powered option that offers up to six hours of protection. This natural alternative has a non-chemical scent and won't leave skin feeling greasy. Just keep in mind that DEET-free formulas won't offer the same level of protection against ticks as options that do contain DEET.
A pair of padded cotton crew socks with an anti-insect coating
Like all of Insect Shield's products, these cotton crew socks have been treated with permethrin that has been tested for effectiveness against insects including ticks. They have a comfortable built-in cushion on the sole and are available in sizes M-XL.
A light-colored UV-protective T-shirt with tick-repellent abilities
Made from 70% cotton, this ultra-breathable and lightweight shirt has EPA-registered permethrin repellent built into the fabric, providing protection against insects for up to 70 washes. This long-sleeve shirt also offers 30+ UV sun protection and is available in sizes for children at Craghoppers.
Tick-repelling leg gaiters made from mesh
These stretch-mesh leg gaiters have been treated with long-lasting EPA-registered, micro-encapsulated permethrin that is both resistant to UV exposure and gradually released by friction. They remain effective for up to 50 washings and are available for the arms as well.
A pair of permethrin-coated hiking pants for men in a convertible design
You can convert these permethrin-coated and UV-protective pants from full-length trousers to shorts using the concealed zippers at the knee. The seat and knees are also reinforced to keep up with rigorous activities, and nine different pockets provide ample space to hold all your valuables.
A picaridin-infused SPF that repels deer ticks
This DEET-free sunscreen contains nearly 20% picaridin to repel insects including deer ticks for up to 10 hours and also contains broad spectrum SPF30 for UV protection. The formula is infused with vitamin E, an antioxidant that can ward off environmental stressors that lead to premature aging of the skin.
A time-release insect repellent lotion with a high percentage of DEET
This insect repellent lotion contains a little over 34% of DEET, a relatively high concentration compared to most repellents on the market. The continuous time-release technology provides protection for up to 12 hours and the lotion formulation helps to ensure that exposed skin can be thoroughly covered. Because the DEET concentration in this formula exceeds the recommend level for kids (which is 10%-30%), use with children should be supervised.
A pair of permethrin-treated leggings for women
Specifically designed for outdoor activities, these four-way stretch leggings have been treated with an EPA-registered permethrin repellent and have an added UV protection of SPF 40+. They are constructed from a lightweight jersey material that incorporates mesh panels for breathable and moisture-wicking wear. You can also find them in children’s sizes at Craghoppers.

Before You Go

A lemon eucalyptus spray that smells like an expensive yoga studio

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