What do I need to wash after we picked up a tick?
November 3, 2016 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday, my son and I went to a wolf sanctuary! This morning, I found a deer tick munching on him. The tick is being tested for Lyme via the town lab. Do I need to wash his sheets and blankets? (He wore clean pajamas last night but we didn't notice the tick when he changed into them.) My sheets and blankets? (I also put on clean pajamas before bed.) What about the jackets, all hanging together overnight on the coat rack? What about the fabric interior of the car?
posted by xo to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As someone who grew up in the back woods with lots of ticks: you don't have to do any of the above. Wash the clothes you were wearing at the time, but it's unlikely a tick would have hitched a ride on your body, not bitten you, and then gotten off on other clothes or sheets or car. I'm not aware of any health department advising people to wash everything (like you would with bed bugs, for example). Maryland's Department of Health, for example just advises how to remove the tick and then wash your hands. (PDF link)
posted by alligatorpear at 12:52 PM on November 3, 2016 [24 favorites]

I don't think you need to wash much, unless it's for peace of mind. Ticks are self-contained. It's not like they're laying eggs or like there's a bunch of them , as with lice or fleas. I would inspect everything thoroughly, for sure, and make sure there aren't any other interlopers. Good luck - hope your tick was Lyme-free!
posted by jhope71 at 12:52 PM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

The risk is from the bite, not just contact with the tick. Inspect the bed and the jackets for more ticks and you'll be fine.
posted by Etrigan at 12:52 PM on November 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

Are you thinking of washing items because another tick could be on them? (It could.) Or because you're worried that items a tick touched could be infectious? (They aren't.)

Washing alone won't kill ticks unless the water temperature is quite high. Putting things in the dryer is more effective. Here are some recommendations.

I personally wouldn't bother to put anything in the dryer except possibly clothing that was worn yesterday or that came into close contact with clothing worn yesterday. No one's bedding is very likely to have ticks in it, because a tick wouldn't get off a person to go wandering around in the bed.
posted by Redstart at 12:54 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, and if you do decide to wash things for piece of mind, use high heat and also use high heat on the dryer -- anything less won't necessarily kill deer ticks, at least.
posted by alligatorpear at 12:55 PM on November 3, 2016

No need to wash anything but do thoroughly inspect your coats. Also check your scalps. FWIW I've had ticks in my (long) hair which I didn't notice until a shower the next day when they made their way to my scalp.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:03 PM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I fucking hate ticks and they gross me out like few other things do. That said, I have picked many a tick off myself and my animals. The one (only) good thing about ticks is that they really, really like warm blood-sacks like you and me. They aren't going to be hanging out on bedding forever or breeding in clothing and there is really no need to wash anything other than for your own sanity. That said, you need to get someone you *really* like to search every inch of you including your scalp and ...every nook and cranny.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:09 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

It sounds like you found it with 24 hours, so infection is quite unlikely. "Since the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease must feed for >36 hours before transmission of the spirochete, the risk of acquiring Lyme disease from an observed tick bite, for example, is only 1.2 to 1.4 percent, even in an area where the disease is common."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:52 PM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

get him a course of doxycycline antibiotic (I am not a doctor) as soon as you can. my parents have done this frequently when bitten by ticks and it has reduced complications.
posted by evilmonk at 4:44 PM on November 3, 2016

Did you do a full tick check? I'd wash the sheets he slept in and his clothes, but most of all, I'd do a thorough head-to-toe tick check. And don't forget the check behind the ears - one sucker got me there one time...I was so mad.
posted by Toddles at 9:02 PM on November 3, 2016

Having lived almost all my life in a deer-tick-infested part of the country, I can say that the standard procedure is simply to do a thorough visual inspection of the body. Ticks are almost always found directly on the body of their host, rather than on associated clothing or bedding. Also, if you found the tick then it probably didn't transmit lyme; conservatively speaking, they need to be attached for at least 24 hours before there's a risk of transmission.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:42 AM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

I guess what I'm saying is that ticks are not fleas or bedbugs, where they continue to infest the area where their hosts live. They go straight to the skin and burrow in, and then if left to their own devices they'll drop off and have their babies somewhere outside. They don't infest houses, bedding, cars, or clothing. There's a small chance of a stray tick somewhere in his clothes, but it's small. 90% of the countless ticks that I've found on myself have been on my skin, not my clothes. I've never found one in my bed, car, etc.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:45 AM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

« Older Where's a good beginner swing dancing class in...   |   Remove empty folder in bash script? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.