"The scourge of the wilderness..."
Ticks can be found on nearly every continent of this planet so your chance of avoiding them completely doesn't really exist. The best you can do then is learn to live with them in their habitat. By practicing these preventative measures, you can reduce the likelihood of a bite and contracting a tick-borne disease!
Before You Go Outdoors
Tick Habitat Although you can find ticks on any continent, you will typically find them in wooded areas and amid tall grass. Although they are typically dormant in winter, they can still be active as long as the temperature is above freezing. Since ticks do not drink water to survive, they rely on high humidity to keep hydrated. This means ticks will be most active in summer months. You can minimize your likelihood of picking up ticks by keeping out of areas where vegetation will come into contact with your clothing or skin.
Clothing It may be uncomfortable in summer but wearing long pants and long sleeves while out in tick habitat can keep them from getting on your skin immediately. This barrier can make a difference when attempting to avoid tick bites and tick-borne diseases as your clothing will make it more difficult for a tick to find a good place to bite.
Repellent Using insect repellent can help keep ticks off of your clothing by making your clothing an irritant to them. DEET is a highly effective ingredient of insect repellents that can be used against ticks. Usually the higher the concentration of DEET the better! For a more natural defense, you can use oil of lemon eucalyptus to create your own home brew repellent.
After You Come Indoors
Do a tick check of your clothing before you come indoors. Ticks may still be hiding on your clothing regardless of whether you sprayed with repellent or not. You can wash your clothes in hot water and run through a high heat dry cycle to kill any ticks that might be hanging on to your clothing.
Shower after being outdoors to wash off any ticks that have not yet latched on and give yourself the opportunity to find any that have. Speaking from personal experience, you will likely tell when one has bitten you as it will cause an irritation much like any bug bite.
Check under your arms, in and around your ears, behind your knees, in and around your hair, and around your waist. Ticks will prefer a hiding spot in darker areas where they are less likely to be discovered.
Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
Pull upwards with a steady and even pressure. Do not twist and try your best not to squeeze the body. This can cause mouth parts to break off in the skin or the tick to regurgitate into your body increasing the chance of contracting a disease
After removal, examine the bite for evidence of mouth parts left behind and using the tweezers, remove the mouth parts. If you cannot, allow the skin to heal on its own.
Thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands to kill any possible diseases carried by the tick.
Keep hold of the tick, if it bit you, by wrapping it securely in tape and storing it in a freezer. Monitor the bite area for signs of disease or infection such as a fever or rash within several weeks of removing the tick. Bring the tick to your doctor for testing at these early signs if possible.