Bob Oley, PE, MSPH
Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Expert
Public Health and Site Consultant

Summer Soccer Camp Tick Tips

There are three types of ticks you have to worry about over the summer as your child heads off to soccer camp. They are the Deer Tick, Lone Star Tick, and Dog Tick. Any one of these ticks can bite your child and infect them with tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. And because these ticks are so very tiny (as small as the period at the end of this sentence), you may never know you were ever bitten. Recommended prevention measures you can take to keep your child as safe as possible from tick bites include:

  • Avoid areas known to harbor ticks especially those wooded, brush filled or grassy areas surrounding soccer playing fields where there can be an abundance of ticks. You are less likely (though it is not entirely impossible) to have ticks on well-maintained soccer fields where there is short grass and full sun. Ticks do not survive in too dry an environment and require higher humidity conditions.

  • Spray soccer shorts and T-shirts, socks, soccer shoes, and the outside of soccer bags and backpacks with the chemical permethrin to repel and kill ticks. This synthetic chemical can be purchased through most large sporting goods stores such as Cabela’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Clothing treated with permethrin will repel and kill ticks through 5 or 6 washings, while shoe wear and soccer bags will need to be re-sprayed every 4 weeks. Permethrin has been used in lice shampoos for years, and is safe for use on soccer clothing and accessories.

  • Apply tick repellents to exposed skin. In 2008 the CDC came out with a list of four repellent ingredients that they rated equally effective warding off ticks. The ingredients included the three chemicals DEET, IR3535, and Picaridin and the natural essential oil Lemon Eucalyptus. Any products containing these can generally be counted upon to provide protection against ticks. Whatever you do use, be sure it states on the product label that it repels ticks and for how long.

  • Put soccer clothes in the clothes drier on high heat for 20 minutes prior to your child bringing those outdoor clothes into the house. This simple routine will effectively kill any ticks, which may be crawling on the clothing.

  • Conduct full body tick checks soon after outdoor soccer activities, as well as at night before bedtime. Ticks like moist regions of the body especially those areas between the toes, behind the knee, in the groin, navel, armpits, behind the ears, and on the scalp.

  • Remove an attached tick with fine pointed tweezers and save it dead or alive in a Ziploc bag for possible future testing of the tick. You are likely to want to know what kind of tick it is, and whether it is carrying any disease organisms.