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Billings doctor offers tips on avoiding ticks outside

Posted at 3:25 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 17:25:15-04

As the weather changes, outdoor enthusiasts should be wary of ticks, which can carry disease, according to a Billings doctor.

Dr. Ben Walz of RiverStone Health said Friday since the snow is gone, ticks can start climbing out on the grass and latching themselves on to people.

Walz recommends avoiding more grassy areas, as ticks can hide in grass and latch on as we walk by. He also recommends wearing long pants and tucking pant legs into socks to avoid ticks from going underneath clothes.

Walz says that some repellents are helpful in keeping ticks away.

“You can apply up to 30% DEET onto your skin. Anything higher isn’t going to be more helpful and can cause potential reactions in younger people,” says Walz.

Walz says everyone should inspect themselves for ticks after being outdoors.

“Looking in areas such as the scalp, beard lines, behind the knees, armpit, groin, behind your ears. Often people will find ticks in the shower because they are taking the time to look,” says Walz.

If you notice that you have a tick on you, Walz says to avoid detaching the tick by methods of painting, petroleum jelly, and heat, as these methods will aggravate the tick and may cause it to regurgitate and cause further infection.

“The best way to remove a tick is to use fine tipped tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull away from the skin with steady even pressure, without twisting or jerking,” says Walz.

Walz says while we do not have the type of ticks in our area that carry Lyme disease, we can however develop RMSF (Rocky Mountain spotted fever), which can be a fatal illness if not treated.

Walz says to watch for symptoms of fever, chills, aches, and pain after removing any ticks.

Walz says that since people are starting to get out more, they should watch for ticks and make sure to take proper precautions.