Ticks are little pests that can cause big problems, and starting around this time of year they are especially troublesome for outdoorsmen.
Fishermen traipse through areas overgrown with weeds and bushes, and campers and hikers are equally tempting tick targets.
Every year cases of tick-transmitted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease are diagnosed. The disease can be debilitating. Symptoms include fever, headaches, nausea and muscle aches. Some Lyme victims become bedridden and require months of recovery.
Even a bite by a non-disease-carrying tick can cause problems if the bite becomes infected.
At the end of every trip outdoors, a thorough tick-check is prudent. If a tick is found clamped onto the skin, use tweezers to remove it. If the head is embedded, take care not to break it off; it can cause serious infection.
Treat the bite with an antiseptic. If the bitten area becomes inflamed and remains so over the next few days, consult a doctor.
Even tiny seed ticks — the size of mustard seeds — can be a torment, causing maddening itching in areas they infest, primarily legs and ankles.
After returning home from an outdoors trip, promptly wash whatever clothing was worn. Ticks can climb out of a clothes hamper and go exploring.
The best way to deal with tick bites is to avoid getting them.
When outdoors, use a tick repellent, available at most outdoors stores and pharmacies. Apply it liberally, especially on ankles and legs. Reapply periodically throughout the day as the repellent wears off or is sweated off.
Avoid walking through tick territory if possible. Weeds, tall grass and low bushes are tick havens. Ticks lie on grass blades, leaves and weeds with their legs sticking up, waiting to latch onto whatever brushes past.
Light-colored socks and clothing make it easier to detect ticks. Some hikers tuck their socks into pant legs to help deter hitchhikers.
Ticks can be more than itchy nuisances; they can be disease-carrying dangers. They should be taken seriously.