Ten Ways To Avoid Catching Lyme Disease

On average, 8 people catch Lyme disease in Britain each day, according to Public Health England. If you love the great outdoors, or have a dog, you may already have heard of Lyme disease. But how can you avoid being one of those 8 unlucky people? We asked Caudwell LymeCo Charity, which raises money for medical research into Lyme disease, to fill us in. 


Lyme disease is spread to humans by ticks, which bite and feed on our blood. Nymph ticks, which as you can see here are the size of a poppy seed, are the ones most likely to bite you. 

There are ticks all over Britain. You are most likely to encounter them in countryside with long grass or plants, but there can be ticks wherever there are small animals for them to feed on, such as mice, voles or squirrels. 

 

You can be bitten any time of year, but tick breeding season is May to October, and this is when you need to be most careful. 

 

Lyme disease attacks the nerves, brain, heart, eyes and can sometimes cause skin rashes. It can paralyse parts of the face or body, make your heart beat irregularly, damage your eyesight, give you numbness, pins and needles or twitching, and can even give you arthritis. People who catch it need weeks of antibiotics. 

 

The University of Bristol has been organising spot checks and found that 1 dog in every 3 had a tick attached. Your dog can get ill from Lyme disease too, so it pays to learn how to protect yourself, your children and your pets. 

Our top ten tips for preventing Lyme disease:

1. Block ticks' entry by tucking everything in! Tuck your trousers into your socks. Tuck your T-shirt into your trousers. And so on. 

 

2. Spray your skin with insect repellent, BUT FIRST, check the label to make sure it’s effective against ticks, because not all of them are. 

 

3. Spray your clothes with permethrin. This is especially important if you go camping – you can buy permethrin in camping shops and also clothes which have been pre-treated with it. 

 

4. Sit on a blanket or groundsheet, not on the grass. 

 

5. Put your clothes and blanket in the tumble dryer for 20 minutes when you get home. This kills ticks. 

 

6. Check yourself and your pet every 4 hours while outside, or when you get in. Ticks like warm, soft skin, but you need to look everywhere, including inside your clothes. These little arachnids have powers akin to Spiderman and can walk anywhere inside your clothing without you feeling a thing.

 

7. Have someone else look for ticks on the parts you cannot see, especially the back of your neck, behind your ears and even around your hairline. 

 

8. If you find a tick feeding from you, do not delay removing it. The longer ticks are attached, the higher the risk of catching Lyme disease. 

 

9. Pull ticks off using a tick remover tool or narrow, pointed tweezers. If you don't have anything better, scrape the tick off sideways using a credit card. Do not squeeze or pester the tick in any way, as this will squirt bacteria from its stomach into your body. 

10. Getting prompt treatment is the key to making a full recovery from Lyme disease. A lot of people are bitten by a tick without ever noticing it, so still go to the doctor if you suspect Lyme disease, even if you have never seen a tick biting you. 

For lots more information and advice, visit Caudwell LymeCo Charity's website caudwelllyme.com.