When tick season arrives, it is important to use every means possible to prevent tick-borne disease. An initial step is to wear treated clothing to keep them off.
Q. I enjoyed your article about ticks, but you left out an important strategy my family uses: permethrin treated clothing.
In tick season we spray our shoes with permethrin every month and have a couple of treated outfits we wear when we are walking the dog in the woods. Forest Service staff use clothing that has been pretreated, but we spray ours.
I like that better than coating ourselves and our kids in DEET before they go out to play.
A. Keeping ticks off is the best tactic in preventing tick-borne diseases like Lyme. That is why we suggested tucking pants legs into socks and treating them and shoes with repellent.
Treated Clothing Offers Protection
A comparative study found that BioUD was more effective than permethrin and just as effective as DEET against lone star ticks (Medical and Veterinary Entomology, Jun., 2011).
Another tactic is to dust socks and shoes with powdered sulfur. This old-fashioned approach can help, though you may need to ask the pharmacy to special order the sulfur. They don’t always carry it in stock any more.
Take care not to inhale it, as it can be irritating to the lungs. All the other usual precautions are also important, such as wearing light-colored clothing. That allows you to see ticks as soon as they start climbing around looking for a place to bite.
Thorough tick checks at least once a day (or better, every time you come in from outside) are a must. The risk of infection rises with the length of time a tick remains attached.
Diseases from Tick Bites
You can learn more about Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, and bartonellosis, caused by various Bartonella species, in our hour-long interview with Edward Breitschwerdt, DVM, and D. Robert Mozayeni, MD.