Mind where you’re going, and avoid areas that are especially attractive to ticks, like tall grassy fields, said Dr. Weber.
“Ticks don’t fly and they don’t jump,” Dr. Weber said. “They live on grasses, and when a human goes by, they leave the grass and attach themselves to the human.” He recommends staying in the center of a trail when walking in the woods and avoiding bushy areas and grasslands. Avoid sitting on downed logs, where ticks like to nestle, Ms. Leland said.
Use insect repellent on exposed skin
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency recommend using mosquito repellents that have as their active ingredient either DEET; picaridin; IR3535; oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD); or 2-undecanone.
Only DEET, picaridin and IR3535 are effective agents against ticks, and will require higher concentrations than when used against mosquitoes, so read the package labels carefully and reapply as needed. (Wirecutter, a New York Times Company that reviews products, has a list of the best bug repellents.)
Adults should apply repellent to children, but not to very young infants, Dr. Weber said. Babies under 2 months should not use repellents and OLE and PMD should not be used on children under 3. For all children, avoid putting repellents on their hands, or near their eyes and mouths. If you’re also using sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first, and then the mosquito repellent afterward.
Check yourself for ticks after a hike
Take a shower after your hike and check yourself for ticks. Make sure to feel your scalp under your hair, and check folds of skin, your private parts, behind your ears and behind your knees.
Parents should check their children, and adults should have someone else check their backs.
“Look in your clothes for ticks,” Dr. Weber suggested, and throw them in the dryer on high heat if you’re concerned. “Do a full body check by looking in a mirror, and check hidden spots: behind the knees, the waist area, the bellybutton. That’s where they like to hide.”