Ticks: How you protect yourself and remove them

As a Bushcrafter, you will have to deal with ticks. How to protect yourself from ticks and how to behave if you have already been stung, you will learn in this article

from Martin Gebhardt | Bushcraft | reading time 7 Min
Updated on 30 June 2023 15.950 views 100% found this guide helpful
Ticks: How you protect yourself and remove them

Martin Gebhardt

From Martin Gebhardt. Check out my “About me” page.


👉 The key facts from this guide

  • Ticks primarily transmit two diseases: tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme disease.
  • TBE can progress severely or fatally, but there is a vaccine against it.
  • Lyme disease is transmitted by a bacterium and can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Preventive measures against ticks include TBE vaccination, avoiding tick habitats, wearing appropriate clothing, and using tick sprays.
  • If you are bitten by a tick, you should remove it gently. Use a tick tweezers and slowly and carefully pull the tick out of the skin. Avoid sudden movements and do not squeeze the tick.
  • After a tick bite, you should check the puncture site daily for up to four weeks. If you notice unusual skin redness or flu-like symptoms, you should immediately consult a doctor.
  • Home remedies such as black seed oil or coconut oil are not scientifically proven and should not be used as the sole protection against ticks.
  • Ticks are not only active in spring and summer but also in milder weather. They freeze in low temperatures and become active again at temperatures of approximately 8 degrees Celsius.

Especially in Central Europe, ticks are often found in forests and fields.

As a Bushcrafter and forest enthusiast, you will not be able to avoid this topic.

You should never take a tick bite lightly.

You will learn in this article how to protect yourself from ticks and how to behave if you have already been bitten.

Which diseases are transmitted by ticks?

Ticks in Europe mainly transmit two diseases. The tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is caused by viruses and can have a severe or deadly course.

On average, every two hundredth tick in the central European core area is infected with FSME viruses. The viruses are transmitted through a tick bite, but cannot be passed from person to person.

1-2% of people who contract FSME die from it. The rest typically suffer severe damage or paralysis. Fortunately, there is a vaccine against FSME. Vaccination is primarily recommended for people who spend a lot of time in nature in the core area.

The other disease is Lyme disease, for which there is no vaccine. However, Lyme disease is transmitted by a bacterium and can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Note: Lyme disease is not only transmitted by ticks. In rare cases, it can also be transmitted by the bite of a mosquito.

Common wood tick
Common wood tick

What preventive measures protect me?

If you spend a lot of time in the forest, you should definitely get a tick-borne encephalitis vaccination. This way, you have already eliminated the biggest risk. Make sure to refresh the vaccination approximately every five years.

Try to avoid favorite spots of ticks in nature. They particularly like to stay in the warm leaf litter on the forest floor. High, unmowed meadows are also typical tick areas.

Pay attention to the right clothing. Long sleeves and long pants cover your skin. It's best to also pull your socks over your pants legs. Rubber boots have also proven effective against ticks. Wear light-colored clothing if possible. This makes it easier to spot the small ticks.

You can find a range of tick sprays in stores. Ticks don't like their smell, so you should spray yourself with it before your adventure.

However, you must regularly renew the spray - refer to the instructions for the product. The advantage: these sprays also keep mosquitoes away.

I recommend this for spraying on clothing. It is not a spray for the skin, please do not inhale.

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I often use Anti Brumm. Although you smell like lemon afterward, it works equally well against mosquitoes and ticks for me.

An experiment indicated that ticks did not want to get on my clothes after I sprayed myself with Anti Brumm. Although mosquitoes flew around me, none landed and bit me. Conclusion: A brilliant spray.

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And this one for rubbing in, also suitable for children:

Home remedies such as black cumin oil or coconut oil are mainly discussed online as a remedy against ticks.

However, you should not rely on this, as its effectiveness is not scientifically proven.

After your stay in nature, you absolutely must thoroughly check your entire body for ticks.

If you are two, you can help each other best. Ticks prefer thin and warm skin areas.

Works particularly well on the back of the knees, in the intimate area, as well as on the stomach and chest.

Also read

Can I protect myself from mosquitoes and parasites with mud and dirt? - In this guide, you will learn whether mud and dirt can protect you from mosquitoes and parasites. You will also learn about other protective measures.

How do I properly remove a tick?

Rely on your eyes more than your intuition during your regular check-up.

Often you don't even feel a tick bite. If you are bitten by a tick despite all precautions, you must remove it gently.

Here is a graphic of the popular tick locations.

Check these areas for ticks
Check these areas for ticks

Tick pliers

To not waste any time, it's best to always carry a tick remover with you (you can get it here).

So, you can remove them directly in nature and give Lyme disease no chance. This is transmitted only about 12 hours after the bite.

You must grab the tick as close to the skin as possible with tweezers. Then slowly and carefully pull the tick out of the skin.

Under no circumstances make sudden movements. Turning is also not necessary. The mouth parts of ticks do not have threads.

This controlled approach is important to avoid crushing the tick. Otherwise, it would release dangerous bodily fluids under your skin. You definitely want to avoid that.

Removing ticks
Removing ticks

If you are unable to remove the tick immediately, do not lose patience. It often takes several attempts to remove a tick. If you cannot reach the area well, ask a companion for help.

Alcohol, Gasoline, and Co

There are many methods circulating on the internet for removing ticks, such as alcohol, gasoline, or nail polish remover.

These are completely ineffective for removal.

On the contrary, they even increase the risk of transmission. So: Stay away from such experiments!

Alcohol or iodine is only used after the tick has been removed. These substances help to soothe and disinfect the skin.

Many people are affected by more than one tick. Therefore, do not give up on precautionary measures and searching for further ticks after removing one.

Occasionally, the tick's mouth part remains stuck in the skin. It will be later expelled.

So, it doesn't matter if the tick remover breaks during removal. The important thing is THAT the tick is removed.

When do I need to see a doctor for my symptoms?

Be sure to check a puncture site daily for up to four weeks. If you notice any unusual skin redness, you must see a doctor immediately.

Tick bite
Tick bite

Just Lyme disease manifests itself in the first few days to weeks with a redness around the skin area. This becomes larger and fades in the middle. A red ring is formed. In this early phase, Lyme disease can be treated excellently with antibiotics.

Both in FSME and in Lyme disease, flu-like symptoms can occur in the first few days.

This includes fever, headaches, or fatigue. Again, if you notice anything unusual, get examined by a doctor immediately.

Conclusion

So, you see: With a few precautions, the risk of tick bites can be well contained.

Prevention before your trip into nature is just as important as meticulous checks afterward.

With this, nothing stands in the way of your adventure in the Central European nature, and you don't have to fear getting infected by ticks with a disease.


What are your experiences with ticks?

Are there many of them in your forest and meadows?

Have you ever been bitten by a tick?

Take care, Martin
Martin Gebhardt

Author of the guide


Martin Gebhardt

Hey, I'm Martin. On my blog, you will learn the basics and numerous details about living in the wild. I think survival, bushcraft and the good life in nature are the keys to happiness. Find me here on Instagram or on YouTube. You can find more about my mission on the About Me page.

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