The Most Effective Tick Repellents for Humans (and Dogs), According to Science
As more and more people flock to the outdoors, it is extremely important to be wary of tick-borne diseases. And the summer months are when you’re most susceptible because “as the weather gets better, tick numbers rise,” according to Dr. Thomas Daniels, who studies ticks at Fordham University’s Louis Calder Center. Places to watch out for include wooded areas and patches with tall grass and bushes, explains Dr. Goudarz Molaei, research scientist and director of the CAES Passive Tick Surveillance program and associate clinical professor at the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale University’s School of Public Health. It’s also important to know that tick bites don’t just happen on the hiking trail. “Close to 75 percent of Lyme’s disease cases have been reported from bites that occur in people’s own backyards,” Molaei explains.
Jeffrey Hammond, of the New York State Department of Health’s public-affairs office, recommends doing “a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day, and also check children and pets” in order to protect against ticks and tick-borne illness. A proper tick check starts with examining your feet, then on to armpits, wrists, knees, and, yes, groin. “Ticks start low and crawl up,” adds Dr. Thomas N. Mather, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease and its Tick Encounter Resource Center. “So if they get to the top of your head, it’s not that they fell out of a tree. Instead, they’ve crawled all the way up your body.” But the best way to deal with a tick bite is to prevent it from happening at all. Fortunately, there are some solid, science-backed ways to prevent the pests from latching on. To find out which tick repellents actually work and which ones aren’t worth trying, we asked eight tick experts to explain tick science and share some of their favorite products for keeping them off humans and their pets.
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