Prevention of Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease Tick - iStockphoto

To prevent Lyme disease, avoid grasslands and wooded areas where incidence of the disease is high. When outside in these areas, apply insect repellent containing DEET (n,n-diethyl-m toluamide) to exposed skin. Apply permethrin (kills ticks on contact) to clothes and avoid getting this substance on the skin because it is toxic.

Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into boots may prevent ticks from reaching the skin. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to see ticks.

Check clothing and skin carefully, especially where clothing touches the skin (e.g., cuffs, underwear elastic). Shower after all outdoor activities; if a tick is on the skin but unattached, it may wash off.

Run the fingers gently over the skin. An attached tick feels like a small scab. The tick must be attached to a person for 2 to 3 days to pass on the infection, so removing it within 36 hours will significantly reduce the risk for Lyme disease.

Carefully examine these areas on the body:

  • Behind the knees
  • Between fingers and toes
  • Ears (inside and behind)
  • Hairline and top of the head
  • Navel (belly button)
  • Neck

Publication Review By: John J. Swierzewski, D.P.M.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 24 Sep 2015