How To Prevent Tick Bites When Outdoors

by Dr. David Minkoff July 17, 2023 4 min read

How To Prevent Tick Bites When Outdoors

It’s summer time, and if you plan on getting out into the woods or into the mountains, then it’s important you know how to spot ticks and remove them, or prevent them from getting onto you in the first place.

Because their bite can potentially carry harmful bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, Spotted Fever, and a series of other illnesses.

This doesn’t mean you need to be scared at all. Far from it. 

It just means that you need to be informed.

You need to know what they look like, where to look for them, and what to do if you find one.

Or, better yet, how to prevent them from getting onto you in the first place so you can have a safe adventure and enjoy the outdoors without worry.



Ticks are small arachnids (in the same family as spiders) that can be found all over the world, usually in outdoor areas with grass, brush, or woods.

In the US we have several different species in different places:

  • The black-legged tick, or deer tick, which can transmit Lyme disease, is found in the Northeast, Midwest, and along the Pacific Coast. 
  • The American dog tick, which can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, is found east of the Rocky Mountains and in some areas along the Pacific Coast.
  • And the Lone Star tick, which can transmit southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Heartland virus, Bourbon virus, and Alpha-gal syndrome, is found in the eastern, southeastern, and midwestern U.S.

These are just a few examples, but you get the idea of what they can do and why we need to take precautions to enjoy our time outdoors without issue.



Ticks can't fly or jump, instead they do something called “questing” to find someone to latch onto.

They’ll climb to the top of a blade of grass, or a leaf, and extend their front legs. Then, when an animal or person brushes against that blade of grass or leaf, it quickly climbs onto the them.

Once on you they tend toward certain areas on the body, such as the groin, scalp, and armpits, which are warm, moist, and well protected.

But even so, they can attach anywhere on the body, often in hard-to-see areas.

On pets they generally go to the armpits, elbows or hind legs. Though again, they can go anywhere.

How you check for them is simple.

And, while you can do some of this checking before coming home, the rest must be done once you get home.

Now, ticks are oval-shaped, somewhat flat, wingless, and have eight legs. Adults are about the size of an apple seed, while nymphs (young ticks) are about the size of a poppy seed. They can be brown, reddish-brown, or black.

But they’re small, so you have to look closely. 

Do this:

Thoroughly check your entire body for ticks. Use a full-length mirror to do this so you don’t miss anything.

Be sure to check these parts of your body, your child's body, and any pets you have:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the hair
  • Between the legs
  • And around the waist

And, again, finish it up with a full length mirror examining your whole body to be sure.



If you find a tick attached to your skin, don't panic. The key is to remove the tick as soon as possible, but to do so gently and completely.

Do this:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with a steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • Dispose of a live tick by flushing it down the toilet, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or freezing it.
  • Never crush a tick with your fingers.

If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor.

And be sure to tell them when the bite occurred, what the tick looked like, and where you most likely acquired the tick. This is so they can more easily identify what type of tick it is and know what to test for.

Tick bites are generally only dangerous if not addressed soon after, so don’t get worried, just go see your doctor.



Of course the best course of action is just to work to prevent ticks from getting on you in the first place.

And it’s pretty simple:

  • Wear appropriate clothing to limit their ability to get to your skin: Long sleeves, long pants tucked into your socks, and closed-toe shoes (no sandals). Light-colored clothing can also make it easier to spot ticks on you. In short, make it hard to reach your skin.
  • Also, you can use tick repellent. There are actually organic versions, so you can keep the toxins off you, but make sure you follow the directions.
  • And you can treat your clothing and gear with natural tick repellents.
  • Avoid tick-infested areas: If there is a lot of tall grass or marshy places, see if you can avoid it. Otherwise, tuck in your shirt and tuck your pants into your shoes before going through, and do a quick check right after.
  • Lastly, always check for ticks after coming back home, as covered above. This includes your gear and pets, as ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets and then attach to you or your family later.



Ticks are part of life and you're bound to run into them at some point. But they’re no reason to not get out, go hiking or walking through the forest, or have a good time.

Be smart about it and apply the above and you should be just fine.

I hope this helps.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.