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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Prevention

If you are in a region where Lyme disease is more common, you can:

  • Avoid woods, high brush, and grasses where ticks hide

  • Wear long pants and long sleeves; white clothing makes is easier to spot ticks

  • Examine your skin for ticks soon after returning from wooded areas or areas with high grass or brush

  • Apply tick repellents (especially those that contain DEET) to the skin and clothing

Antibiotics are not prescribed for every tick bite, because the risk of getting Lyme disease is quite low, ranging from less than 0.1% in most areas to 5% in some areas of the Northeast and Midwest. For people that live in areas where Lyme disease rates are high, one dose of doxycycline can usually prevent disease if taken within three days of a tick bite. So for those at highest risk, early treatment may be appropriate. A Lyme disease vaccine is not currently available for humans..

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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