3 Tips for Avoiding Tick Bites and Lyme Disease

The devastating infection is treatable if caught quickly, but it's best to avoid the bite altogether.

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Aside from the controversy about whether "chronic Lyme disease" exists, the basics are pretty much undisputed: If you get bitten by a tick, the possibility does exist that you may end up developing Lyme disease. Fortunately, it's easily treatable with antibiotics when it's caught quickly. If you get a characteristic bull's-eye rash, a Lyme diagnosis is likely—though not everyone with Lyme gets this rash.

The best way to avoid Lyme disease is to protect yourself from tick bites, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here is the agency's advice on how to stay tick free:

• Use DEET or permethrin insect repellent. DEET can be used either on clothing or skin, but permethrin should be applied only to articles of clothing such as pants, socks, and shoes.

• Remove ticks from your clothing, and do "tick checks" after being outside. Look for ticks on your skin and clothing before returning indoors—and remove them promptly. Use fine-tipped tweezers to pull the bugs from your skin. If you spot a tick on your skin and remove it within 24 hours, the chances you'll end up with Lyme disease are slim.

• Consider using pesticides to eliminate ticks near your home. One application of pesticides called acaricides at the end of May or early June can decrease tick populations by 68 to 100 percent, tests show.