Avoiding Tick Bites
Why Do I Need to Avoid Tick Bites If I Already Have Alpha-gal Syndrome?
- Additional tick bites can make your AGS reactions worse or reactivate them.
- If you avoid tick bites, your AGS reactions may grow milder.
- Ticks transmit many tick-borne diseases.
What Time of Year Do I Need to Worry About Ticks?
Throughout much of the range of the Lone Star Tick, they are active year-round, but bites are most common in late spring and early fall.
- Avoid tick bites year-round, even in the winter.
- Exercise extra caution in late spring and early fall.
- For more precise information about which tick species are active at different times of year in your area, see the Current Tick Activity page of the TERC website.
Do Only Adult Female Ticks Feed on Blood?
- This is a myth. Both male and female Lone Star Ticks feed on blood.
- All stages of the Lone Star Tick feed on blood.
- Nymphs and females are responsible for most Lone Star Tick bites.
What If I Can’t Completely Avoid Ticks?
- Sometimes you can’t avoid tick-infested areas.
- When this happens, you need to take precautions to avoid tick bites.
For many years I had only a raw pain in my stomach and migraines after eating beef, but no other obvious symptoms. In 2017 I was bitten by a Lone Star Tick again and a week later my throat closed up and I had trouble breathing from the smell of cooking beef gravy. Not long after, one night I had just five Cheez-its. The next thing I know I had full blown anaphylaxis. That’s when I learned I was newly reactive to whey and dairy in general, in addition to the red meat. Everything changed after that bite. Even trace amounts affect me.
Dress to Avoid Ticks
- Wear light-colored clothes, to help you see ticks more easily.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Tuck your shirt into your pants.
- Tuck your pant legs into long socks.
- Wear tick gators.
- Wear boots.
- Rynoskin Total is a brand of clothing designed to help reduce the likelihood of tick bites. We are not aware of any research confirming the efficacy of Rynoskin Total clothing, but some people with AGS have find it helpful.
Treat Your Clothes and Gear with Permethrin
1. Treat boots, clothes, and camping gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent is a popular choice.
- You should not apply permethrin to your skin or underclothes.
- Permethrin can be toxic to some pets, such as cats.
- Be sure to follow the instructions provided when applying permethrin.
2. Buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear, but keep in mind that the permethrin eventually washes out.
3. Use a service that treats your clothing with permethrin, like Insect Shield.
Use Repellents on Your Body and Clothes
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents, such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.
- More information about these repellents can be found on the EPA site.
- Some repellents can be used on your body, some on your clothes, and some on both.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
- This EPA tool can help you find the right repellent for you.
- For more information about which repellents are effective against ticks read The Most Effective Tick Repellents for Humans (and Dogs), According to Science
Watch Where You Walk and Sit
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Don’t linger in one spot for too long. Keep moving.
- Don’t sit in tick-infested areas.
Check for Ticks
- While outdoors, check yourself and your children for ticks frequently.
- Some people find it helpful to run a lint roller over their clothes to pick up small ticks that they don’t see.
When You Get Home
- When you get home, do a full-body tick check.
- Remove any ticks you find immediately.
- Check your clothes, pets, and gear for ticks.
- Get a shower as soon as possible to wash off unattached ticks.
- Tumble your clothes in a clothes dryer on high for at least 15 minutes to kill ticks before washing them.
- See Removing Ticks and After Removing Ticks for more information about proper tick removal and what to do next.