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  1. #1
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    Question Avoiding ticks while wearing shorts?

    I'm from California. Backpacking in the Sierra has spoiled me- once you're above about 5,000 feet there is no poison oak, about 7,000 feet and no ticks, about 8,000 and no rattlesnakes. Mosquitos and the occasional bear are manageable. Every time I think I'll do a trip wearing long pants it fails by day 2 and I finish the trip wearing my swim trunks. I can wear a long sleeve shirt but the thighs really need ventilation.

    Ticks and Lyme disease scare me more than anything else about hiking the AT. (Hot, humid weather is a close 2nd)

    On to the question- With permethrin-treated socks and boxer briefs under shorts, and deet or picaridin on my legs will I be safe from ticks? I get a tic just thinking about ticks.

  2. #2
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    1) You will never be safe from ticks.
    2) You will probably experience getting a tick (or ticks) if you hike the AT long enough and far enough.
    3) All the permethrin in the world does not eliminate the need to check yourself daily for ticks.
    4) Getting Lyme disease is common and commonly treated quickly and effectively with Doxycycline, especially if caught early (some people carry Doxycycline with them on the trail).
    5) If you get in the routine of quickly checking for ticks on your legs and ankles throughout the day, whenever you stop for a bit, and a thorough tick check every night (with mirrors and/or by touch and/or with a partner's help as needed) you will likely find any ticks either before they start to burrow in or in the early stages of burrowing in. Doing so almost completely eliminates the risk of contracting disease from the ticks. It generally takes more than a day for the tick feeding to get to the point that they pass on pathogens to their host (you).

    Fear of ticks, until you've encountered them, is not unlike fear of bears or snakes in the wild. They are all something to be cautious about. BUT, as long as the appropriate precautions are taken, the risk is thoroughly managable.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  3. #3
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    Yeah you're never gonna be completely safe from ticks even in winter most of the time as you need 10 days or more of below 30 degrees for them to "hibernate ".

    You want something else to worry about Google the lone star tick
    Coming to a woods near you soon.

  4. #4
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    Having lived for several years within a 2 hr drive of Lyme Connecticut (yes, the namesake of the disease), I have certainly pulled buried ticks from my skin and my wife's skin. I have removed over 10 ticks from my legs and ankles after walking five minutes into the woods behind our house (not buried, just crawling around). I have not, however gotten Lyme disease, thank goodness.

    But, the point being, you get used to dealing with the little pests and managing the associated risks. I was always pretty cavalier in the winter time. Sure, they might be around and active, but it's rare, and unless I'm digging round in forest duff or walking through a bunch of high grass, I wouldn't pay too much attention.

    In general, when out hiking, I would pay pretty close attention to my legs and ankles to see how many ticks I might pick up. And, if I never saw any ticks on my legs & ankles, I'd be pretty casual or careless about whole body checks. But, if the little buggers start showing up, then I'd start getting pretty meticulous about checking more completely and regularly. It's no more hassle to check for ticks every night than it is to take a shower. It just becomes part of regular self care.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  5. #5
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    All of the above for me. I do treat my clothes, and I do wear shorts when it's warm. I check often, especially in areas where I'm more likely to pick up a tick: grassy or brushy areas, power line crossings, etc. I rarely find ticks when on a well-used trail in the woods, but do an extra close check if I duck off trail for whatever reason. I also treat my hammock and its suspension. It's just become part of the routine to check often.

  6. #6

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    dont see the long pant/vs shorts issue.. actually probably better off with shorts. Ticks cant crawl up your pant legs.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dropdeadfred View Post
    dont see the long pant/vs shorts issue.. actually probably better off with shorts. Ticks cant crawl up your pant legs.
    Pants treated with permethrin that's. I agree with the shorts that's all I wear. The deer tick is a ground dweller or hanging out on grass so they will be coming up.

    The other ticks whatever you call them dog ticks or whatever will drop out of the trees and land on you start sucking like a vampire in heat....

  8. #8
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    Thanks everybody. Wearing long pants in August through the Mid-Atlantic would probably kill me before I get to Lyme County.

    Jim

  9. #9
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    New to tick checks. How do you check for ticks in less visible private areas? Selfies you hope never accidentally upload to social media? Acrobatics with a mirror?

    Do shaved legs help? Started shaving when bike racing so used to shaved legs. Does the lack of hair make it harder for ticks to climb or make them easier to see?

  10. #10
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    I've never read any good detailed recommendations on how to do tick checks. During the day, I just look up and down my legs and ankles feeling gently with my hand in areas I can't see. Then at night I've done it several different ways.

    At times I will check everything visually and with a mirror everywhere including between my toes and yes, cracks and crevices of my private areas. Sometimes it requires a flashlight and mirror combination to see into all the deep dark areas. And yes, if you don't have a mirror or cannot contort yourself enough to see your mirror adequately, a few pictures, (quickly deleted of course), can prove to be very helpful.

    As long as I'm wearing underwear (or compression shorts) that fit tightly (i.e. not baggy boxers or loose running shorts), and, I don't find ticks during the day or at night anywhere easier to see, I often skip the areas hardest and or most awkward to see, figuring that if there weren't any down low, it's unlikely they'd get up higher.

    If I don't have a mirror, or I'm too tired to contort myself around to see what I need to see in a mirror, I often gently run my hands and fingers over my skin to feel for ticks in areas I can't see. I would hesitate to use the touch/feel method until you've tried it out a bit on ticks, or other soft bodied bugs, you've found (before your remove them) so you know what they feel like and how gently you need to touch to make it work.

    If I have my wife, a kid, or a buddy with me, and ticks are pretty bad or we've been sitting or laying down where they might crawl into our hair, we will check each other's hair and hard-to-see, not-so-private-areas in the evening. To check your own hair, you can run a very fine toothed comb through your hair to pull out any loose ticks and then feel your scalp for any imbedded ticks. The ultimate comb for this purpose would be a nit comb like the kind used for combing lice out of your kid's or your hair, although, if your hair has tangles, this can be problematic.

    If I am with my wife (or other appropriate willing partner in years past), and concerned about being extra thorough looking for ticks, we will check each other in all our awkward dark private parts as part of our evening routine.

    Good luck.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  11. #11
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    [QUOTE=Kittyslayer;2283771. . . Do shaved legs help? Started shaving when bike racing so used to shaved legs. Does the lack of hair make it harder for ticks to climb or make them easier to see?[/QUOTE]
    What kind of question is that. Shaved legs always help!

    I have pretty light hair and have never thought about it one way or the other. I can see ticks fine through it and they don't seem to struggle moving on either smooth or harry surfaces. That being said, if one has lots of very dark hair, I would imagine that finding ticks in the jungle might be a fair bit harder. Many people certainly shave their heads (and other areas) to make it harder for ticks to hide.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  12. #12

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    FWIW, I have used Deet (100%) for a number of years which seems to have worked well over a few thousand miles overall. I will use Permethrin on trail clothing (shorts, pants (or convertibles), socks, and shirts. Though that's a relatively new product for me, the added protection does a lot for peace of mind. Nsherry61 is right though, nothing works 100% so "safe from ticks" is relative. Not much beats the close inspection after a walkabout in the woods, though the ticks I have been bitten by tend to be the Wood Tick (aka Dog Tick) which are larger and easier to spot than the Deer Tick which carries Lyme disease.

  13. #13
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    Not on the AT, but we have ticks here in the Alps, too.

    I've learned about Permethrin-threated trousers here on WB a few years ago and find this to be a real godsend.
    Since I'm spraying my outdoor trousers with Permethrin I've never found a tick lodged fast on me again. When hiking in infested areas, especially bushwhacking, usually several to many ticks are gathering on the lower parts of the trousers legs, but they are gone within a few minutes. Sometimes I happen to watch a few of them trying to climb up the trousers obviously feeling themselfs extremely uncomfortable, a minute later they are gone.

    Last year I did a dayhike with a friend along a hunters/deer trail for a full day.
    He was wearing shorts, and has very hairy legs, and he had ticks crawling up his legs every minute. Due to his plentiful hair he actually did feel them crawl.
    I had my Permethrin threated long-leg trousers and not a single tick on me the whole day.

    I would highly recommend to treat the clothes in question, and if wearing shorts to NOT shave the legs. You won't feel crawlies on shaved skin.

  14. #14

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    I usually spray lower legs and socks with Deet, which works for me. I also wear shorts (can't stand pants above about 50F) and it seems easier to spot them early in their journey toward nether regions.

    A few years back I got some of those RailRiders InsectShield pants with the permanent (70 washings) Permethrin treatment. Brand new, never washed, I wore them into the local woods and about halfway thru my little 4mi walk I spied a deer tick working its way up my new magic britches. Seemed the treatment didn't faze the little rascal at all. So I let him (or her?) crawl onto my finger and then I sat down on a rock and put him/her on the thigh area and just kinda coralled him/her around for about 15 minutes... just crawled around with absolutely no signs of distress or an urgent need to escape.

    This is the tick of my tale, crawling on the pants in question... Tick_01.jpg

    Needless to say, I ain't a big believer.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

  15. #15

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    I spray gear an clothes with permethrin, use ChiggAway, a sulfur based tick repellent on myself, then spray DEET on myself. My understanding is that sulfur handles one type of insect, typically crawling things with multiple legs, and DEET handles another type of pest, typically flying, things.

  16. #16

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    Spandex cycling or rowing shorts to keep them out of the private parts. Worn w/o undies, chafing is eliminated.

    White sun leggings help see the little buggers. Water applied to the leggings cools you down even better than bare skin.

    I treat hunting pants/trousers with Permethrin and it seems to work but who wants to wear pants hiking in hot weather? 100% deet works but the smell is horrible and it can damage clothing. I apply from the knee down. Treat your pack with Permethrin, ticks like to hitch hike. Anytime I have to go thru brush or high grass, I stop and inspect my legs immediately after passing thru. I just try to be careful and inspect. I have found a few on me this year just on pre-hike trainings. If you learn to recognize deer paths, where they eat, and where they bed, avoid like the plague. Having had Lymes once, I have antibiotics in my FAK.

  17. #17

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    I treat everything but the boxer shorts with permethrine.I also take some supplements like Apple cider vinegar capsules,garlic,and B complex vitamins.Ever since going to the aforementioned combination I have not found a tick on me.Prior to that,I was treated twice for Lyme's but fortunately did not suffer repercussions.

  18. #18
    Leonidas
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimqpublic View Post
    I'm from California. Backpacking in the Sierra has spoiled me- once you're above about 5,000 feet there is no poison oak, about 7,000 feet and no ticks, about 8,000 and no rattlesnakes. Mosquitos and the occasional bear are manageable. Every time I think I'll do a trip wearing long pants it fails by day 2 and I finish the trip wearing my swim trunks. I can wear a long sleeve shirt but the thighs really need ventilation.

    Ticks and Lyme disease scare me more than anything else about hiking the AT. (Hot, humid weather is a close 2nd)

    On to the question- With permethrin-treated socks and boxer briefs under shorts, and deet or picaridin on my legs will I be safe from ticks? I get a tic just thinking about ticks.
    Just a side note, the permethrin instructions mention not applying it to under clothing, so you don't want to treat your boxer shorts.
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  19. #19

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    I forgot to mention mice and other rodents. Don't sleep where they like to crawl around on you

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    A few years back I got some of those RailRiders InsectShield pants with the permanent (70 washings) Permethrin treatment. Brand new, never washed, I wore them into the local woods and about halfway thru my little 4mi walk I spied a deer tick working its way up my new magic britches. Seemed the treatment didn't faze the little rascal at all. So I let him (or her?) crawl onto my finger and then I sat down on a rock and put him/her on the thigh area and just kinda coralled him/her around for about 15 minutes... just crawled around with absolutely no signs of distress or an urgent need to escape.
    ...
    Needless to say, I ain't a big believer.

    I too ponied up some $$ to have insectshield treat a few dedicated hiking outfits (3 pair Dickies workpants, 2 SS shirts, 1 LS shirt, 4 pr Darn Tough socks). It's been some years but I'm still well under 70 washings. A couple years back I remember a tick sauntering along on my pants like the one you pictured. It didn't seem to have a care in the world! So have I merely been lucky, or does the product actually work? I'm reminded of the xkcd cartoon about why you can't always rely on averaged ratings:

    tornadoguard.png

    FWIW I also have a supply of permethrin which I have on occasion diluted and used to treat packs and such. It is the low-odor stuff (maybe Martins brand?). The regular ag brands have a strong petroleum smell. You don't want that in your washer or dryer. Anyway if I lose faith in my IS-treated clothing I can manually refresh them as needed. Anyone considering this should take extra care to keep cats away - it's highly neurotoxic to them.

    I agree that it's easier to find and remove ticks if you're wearing shorts. But long pants - if you can stand them - really help avoid scrapes in less-traveled trail areas where thorny vines and such are common. With Dickies workpants on, I can usually just stride through unscathed. I'd be regularly cut up if I didn't wear them whenever possible. Sometimes it's just too hot though, and I get that.

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