The keys to reducing the risk of Lyme disease are to:
Reduce or Avoid Tick Habitats
Reducing or avoiding tick habitats can reduce your chances of being bitten. To do this:
Wear Proper Clothing
Proper clothing can help protect you from tick bites. When spending time outdoors in areas where there may be ticks, you should:
Use Insect Repellent
Apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothes and exposed skin. Carefully follow directions for use. Insect repellents containing permethrin can be applied to pants, socks, and shoes. Wash the repellent off your skin when you return inside.
Check for and Remove Ticks
The tick usually must be attached to your skin for at least 24-48 hours for the bacteria to get into your bloodstream. To ensure quick removal of any attached ticks you should:
Doctors vary in their recommendations concerning taking preventive antibiotics following a tick bite. Antibiotic treatment given within 72 hours of a tick bite has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of developing Lyme disease. Treatment is indicated in locations where 20% or more of ticks are known to carry the Lyme bacteria. If bitten by a tick, you should check with your doctor to see if taking an antibiotic is appropriate for you.
A history of Lyme disease, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymeDisease/Pages/history.aspx. Updated March 29, 2011. Accessed September 26, 2012.
Lyme disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114365/Lyme-disease. Updated August 15, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Personal protection. Lyme Disease website. Available at: https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/ticks/personal-protection. Accessed September 26, 2012.
Preventing tick bites. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/index.html. Updated July 26, 2012. Accessed September 26, 2012.
5/28/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114365/Lyme-disease: Warshafsky S, Lee DH, Francois LK, et al. Efficacy of antibiotic prophylaxis for the prevention of Lyme disease: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2010;65(6):1137-1144.
Last reviewed November 2018 by David L. Horn, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014