The 3 Surprising Body Parts You Need to Check for Ticks, Experts Say
These blood-sucking creatures can hide in the strangest spots.
With summer fast approaching and long days outside just within reach, you need to be prepared for some of the risks that come with the season. Sunburns, heat exhaustion, and tick bites, are some of the unpleasant possibilities that present themselves with warmer weather, but if you know how to prevent them, you'll have nothing to worry about. When checking for ticks after a long summer day, you need to know where to look. To see the three sneaky spots these creatures usually hide, read on, and to see if your home might have this pest, check out If You Smell This in Your Home, You Might Have Termites, Experts Say.
You need to check your armpits, groin, and hair.
It's easy to assume you'll feel a tick sucking your blood or see its body burrowing into your arm, but that's often not the case. Experts say these bugs usually make a run for more concealed parts of the body. According to Healthline, once a tick is on your body, it's most likely to migrate to a more desirable spot which for them includes the armpits, groin, or hair. So, when checking for ticks, these are the spots to survey. To see what smell you shouldn't ignore, check out If You Smell This in Your Bedroom, You Might Have Bed Bugs.
Ticks love warm, moist areas.
As gross as it may sound to you, your groin, armpit, and hair are the dreamiest spots for a tick to burrow. "The best place for ticks is your armpits and groin because they are warm, moist, and a good source of blood," said pest control expert Jordan Foster. They also like to feed in dark, secluded places where the skin is thinner, explained dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare Purvisha Patel, MD.
The experts at Paul's Pest Control Melbourne explained that heat is one of the two primary ways ticks detect a host. "You'll find they mostly stick to armpits/groin/head—those body parts have consistently warm temperatures due to the increased blood flow to those general areas. Needless to say, an increased blood flow means easier feeding." They also noted ticks detect a host through odor. "The human groin and armpit emit stronger body odor because those areas are located between limbs. On the other hand, the human hair emits a stronger-than-average odor due to a fatty substance called sebum—the so-called 'grease' which helps your skin and hairs maintain their moisture levels. Since the head is the hairiest body part—that's where ticks get when they follow their sense of smell." To see if you'll be subjected to a big bug re-emergence soon, check out If You Live Here, Prepare for a Major Bug Infestation, Expert Warns.
You need to check for ticks after being in wooded or grassy areas.
"You should check for ticks as soon as you come in from a tick-infested area before you take a shower is a good idea to look for them," said Patel. According to IGeneX, a tick-borne disease testing company, the insect is usually found in places that are "higher in elevation, in wooded and grassy areas where the creatures they feed on live and roam" and "in urban areas, as well as on beaches in coastal areas." They can also be found in "moist and humid environments, which tend to be closer to the ground—such as among logs, fallen branches, tall brush, and grassy areas."
When looking for these bugs David Claborn, PhD, the director of the Master of Public Health program at Missouri State University, said to look for an insect that's anywhere from the size of a pinhead to bigger than a pencil eraser with eight legs. They vary in color and can be brown, reddish-brown, or black, but turn a dark purple color once they've been feeding for a few days. For more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
If you find one, remove it immediately.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, "if you find a tick attached to your skin, there's no need to panic—the key is to remove the tick as soon as possible." The agency advised using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin's surface as possible and then pull upward with steady, even pressure. You need to avoid jerking the tick because this can cause the mouth-parts of the bug to break off and get left behind in your skin. If any part of the tick is left behind, you should try to remove it as well, but if it doesn't come out easily, leave it be. Once the tick is out, clean the bite area and your hands. The CDC also advised never to crush a tick with your fingers and to carefully dispose of it by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. To see which bug is making a big comeback, check out These Awful Bugs You Forgot About May Soon Come Back, Exterminators Warn.