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How to Protect Yourself from Ticks on Hikes

Ticks are in abundance in the Halton Region and with warmer weather fast-approaching, it's only a matter of time before we all must exercise caution when hitting the trails.

Tick Populations Are Rising

Over the last few years, there has been an upswing of tick activity in Ontario's Halton Region prompting the area to be known as a "hot spot". It is definitely possible to hike safely during tick season, and the information provided below should help you better prepare yourself for hiking in tick territory.

Protecting Yourself Against Ticks

There are many different things you can do to help protect yourself from tick bites. Here are just a few of the most common methods:

Wear Long Clothing

Wearing long sleeves and pants help to cover your legs and prevent ticks from biting. Tucking your pantlegs into your socks and your shirt into your waistband works even better.

Check Yourself

Throughout your hike, be sure to look over your body a few times to make sure you haven't picked up a tick along the way. Always check yourself thoroughly after completing your hike and prior to getting into your car.

Bring Fresh Clothing

In areas with a lot of tick activity, to be as safe as possible, it is recommended to change into a fresh set of clothing before getting into your vehicle and stowing your hiking clothes in a sealed bag or container. It is also a good to launder your hiking clothes as soon as you get home to kill any ticks that may be hidden.

Take a Shower

Your best chance of ensuring your body is free of ticks is to have a shower when you arrive home.

Wear Tick Repellent

Always remember to pack bug spray that contains deet or icaridin. You can also try natural repellents like peppermint extract though they are said to be less effective.

Invest in Tick-Repellent Clothing

There is clothing imbued with tick and mosquito-repellent materials that you can purchase. Mark's Work Warehouse has a decent line of clothing and accessories available.

Pet Tick Protection

Your pets are also susceptible to tick bites so if you're bringing your furry companion along for your hike, be sure to talk about tick prevention with your vet first!

Removing a Tick

If you do find a tick on your skin or on your pet, it is important to remove it swiftly and properly. Certain types of ticks can carry Lyme bacteria which can be transmitted to humans. To safely remove a tick and reduce your risk of contracting Lyme Disease, do the following:

  1. Grasp the tick using tweezers and grasp it as close to your skin as you can.

  2. DO NOT CRUSH THE TICK – damaging the tick increases the risk of passing bacteria into your bloodstream.

  3. Once you have a firm grip on the tick, gently pull the tweezers straight up and out. It's essential to avoid twisting as you might separate the head of the tick from its body or squish it.

  4. Once tick is removed, wash the affected area with soap and use rubbing alcohol/iodine swab to disinfect the bite site and the area around it.

  5. Photograph the tick and submit it to for identification. Dispose of tick safely.

  6. Talk to your doctor and/or regional public health unit for further advice and information about bite aftercare.

For more information about ticks and tick removal, watch this:

Stay Informed via Halton Region's Website

Last but not least, you can protect yourself by checking the status of your risk of encountering ticks. You can view current information about ticks on Halton Region's website, including tick surveillance reports and further tips on keeping yourself and your home tick-free.

Happy Hiking Everyone!

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