When Waterton resident Christie Low went for a short family walk around town on April 1st, she was unpleasantly surprised to find two tick bites on her torso—and a tick still attached to one bite!
“Because we weren’t hiking or on any trails, I did not even think to do tick checks,” said Low. “I was not wearing any DEET or repellent.” Whether you’re up in the mountains or walking around town, ticks are out and looking for a bite.
While there are various repellents you can use to deter ticks, an easy way to prevent bites is to wear appropriate clothing. Low was wearing boots with calf-high socks, loose dark-coloured blue Levi jeans, a sweater and a long light-coloured rain jacket, and two little ticks were able to make it to her torso.
Here are 10 Clothing Tips to Avoid Tick Bites:
Mark's WindRiver (tick- and mosquito-repellent clothing)
1. Tuck your pants into your socks
This dorky look is popular for a reason: it works! Wearing long socks and tucking your pants into them will make it more difficult for a creep to crawl in.
2. Wear tall, thick socks
Tall, thick socks are a must for hikes in any season, but especially during tick season (primarily March to October). Your feet and lower legs are a vulnerable place for ticks to hitch a ride and begin searching for exposed skin.
3. Wear repellent-specific clothing
Did you know there is clothing that is infused with repellent for mosquitos and ticks? While this technology is readily available in the United States, in Canada, Mark’s is the only Canadian company with a line approved for sale by Canadian regulatory agencies. It took 10 years to gain approval.
WindRiver is Canada’s first tick- and mosquito-repellent clothing and accessories brand, exclusively sold at Mark’s. The technology, called No Fly Zone® by Burlington Product, contains 0.5 per cent permethrin which is proven to repel ticks and mosquitoes. This odourless and invisible treatment lasts up to 70 washes. A liner separates the treated fabric away from the skin.
The line includes men’s and women’s clothing, and the company is working on approval for pet accessories.
4. Long sleeves and pants
When the Canadian winter finally lifts, we are eager to shed the layers and get outside in shorts and t-shirts. During tick season, this skin exposure puts you at risk for bites. Find lightweight, long sleeve shirts and stick to pants to protect your skin. Ticks can’t bite through leggings.
5. Avoid loose clothing
While you’re choosing long sleeves and pants, opt for ones that fit snugly at the ankles and wrists. Any loose clothing provides an opening for ticks to sneak up and in. And be sure to tuck your shirt in!
6. Treat your clothes with essential oils
While DEET repellent will always be recommended over essential oils, if you want to give it a go, garlic oil, rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, peppermint, thyme and geraniol essential oils are believed to help repel ticks.
7. Wear closed toe shoes
This seems obvious with all the advice given on keeping covered, but wearing closed toe shoes is also important. While hiking sandals are comfy, even that little bit of skin exposure increases your risk of a bite.
8. Avoid mesh
Leggings with mesh patterns are cute in the yoga studio but best keep them off the trail. Mesh provides too much skin exposure and increases your risk of a bite. And as most mesh is black, a tick could hide on it for a while before you found it.
9. Wear light-coloured clothing
I have often heard that it’s better to wear light-coloured clothing during tick season, never really knowing why. It simply makes them easier to spot as ticks tend to be very dark-coloured.
10. Tick check!
This has nothing to do with the clothing you wear, but always check your body, your child’s body and your pets all over for ticks at the end of a day outside. Key spots include:
- In your hair
- In and around the ears
- Under your arms
- In your belly button
- Around the waist
- Between the legs
- Behind your knees
Also be sure to throw your clothes in the dryer for 5-10 minutes so the heat can kill off any ticks that may be latched on.
As for Low, the results came back that the ticks were unlikely to carry Lyme disease but could potentially carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and “other diseases.” Since then, she has been watching for a rash, fever or any other flu-like symptoms which could indicate a transfer of disease that might require treatment.
“I was absolutely shocked considering the seemingly benign ‘adventure’ we had. In the future, the only thing I would do different is wear tighter fitting jeans and make sure to do my tick checks!”