Question of the Day: How Can I Protect Myself From Ticks?

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Note: DEET is the active ingredient found in the most common tick and mosquito repellants.

Dear Paul,

Here is the situation; I live on ten acres with a pond in the woods. I used to play on this land as a kid. This is a perfect habitat for ticks and “chiggers”. Is there anything I can use other than DEET to protect myself from them if I want to walk around the property? I have really bad reactions to tick bites. I would really like to walk the property and enjoy it, but don’t want to use DEET.

Thanks,

Forest Walker

Dear Forest,

Not sure why you wouldn’t want to use DEET, although the maximum recommended concentration is 30%. From all the science I’ve seen, it is quite safe and effective if used correctly. It would seem to me that the risk of any adverse reaction to DEET when used correctly is minuscule, especially when compared to the potential negatives of tick exposure, including the risk of tick-borne diseases.

That said, here’s a link to a document that discusses various methods to reduce your tick exposure:
https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/ticks.htm

And here’s a link to a document that provides an overview of various repellants:
https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/repellents.htm

One option to significantly reduce skin exposure to the repellants would be to wear long pants, tucked into socks, and spray the repellant on your pant cuffs, socks and shoes. Also, I have personally noted that ticks tend to crawl around on your body for a little while before attaching, so a full body inspection shortly after returning from your walk would help reduce risk.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have further questions.

All the best,
Paul