Can Ticks Bite Through Clothing?
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In general, ticks can’t bite through clothing. Ticks are more likely to crawl up around your clothing to get to your warm, inviting skin. There are larval ticks that can possibly crawl through clothing. If you run into a tick nest, this is where you would get bit by the tiny offspring.
Larval ticks are almost microscopic, and you would rarely get bit by one. If you did encounter a nest, you would likely be bitten by many.
Ticks on you and your pets can be a problem. While ticks can’t bite through clothing, let’s take a look at how ticks can get to your skin and how you can avoid those blood-sucking bugs.
Why Are Tick Bites Bad?
Tick bites are bad because they carry diseases that can cause a plethora of problems. In humans, ticks are responsible for Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis. These same diseases, plus several more, can also affect dogs.
Lyme disease can cause fever, headache, fatigue, and a specific skin rash. The infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system if left untreated.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has similar symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and can cause damage to blood vessels leading to organ and tissue damage. It can be fatal if not treated correctly, and death can occur within 8 days of the start of symptoms.
Where Do Ticks Live?
Ticks live in shady and moist areas, usually at ground level. They cling to tall grass and low shrubs where they can jump off to get to animals passing by (or you). You might find them around your lawn, garden, and at the edge of the woods.
The area of the country that has the most emergency department visits for tick bites is the northeast. The American Dog Tick, Black-Legged Tick, and Brown Dog Tick are all found in the Northeast. You can also find the Lone Star Tick in the southernmost states.
When Are Ticks Most Active?
According to research, ticks are most active in the early morning until around noon, although you need to have tick prevention whenever you are out in the woods.
7 Types of Clothing Ticks Can’t Bite Through
Ticks can bite through clothing if the fabric is thin or the weave is fairly loose. If a tick cannot bite through the fabric, it will wander around until it finds skin.
Clothing that is tight at the ankle should keep the tick from finding an opening to the skin, or if you treat your clothing with a tick repellent, this should keep them away.
1. Can Ticks Bite Through Pants?
It is unlikely that ticks will bite through pants. Tuck your pants into your socks or boots to prevent ticks from accessing your skin.
2. Can Ticks Bite Through Leggings?
Leggings should create a barrier that ticks cannot bite through. This type of clothing also clings to the skin and will not allow a tick to be able to access the skin underneath.
3. Can Ticks Bite Through Trousers?
Ticks cannot bite through trousers, but they can crawl inside the pant leg if you have left them an opening to reach your skin.
4. Can Ticks Bite Through Socks?
Tall, thick socks are a good repellent for ticks. Your feet and lower legs are vulnerable spots where ticks can hitch a ride and then look for exposed skin.
5. Can Ticks Bite Through Jeans?
Denim is also too thick for a tick to bite, but it can reach the skin through the pants leg or any holes in the jeans.
6. Can Ticks Bite Through Tights?
Tights can be a good option when you are hiking in cooler weather. You can wear them under your jeans for some warmth, and the ticks cannot bite through the material or access the skin by crawling underneath because the material clings to the skin.
7. Can Ticks Bite Through Pantyhose?
A tick can bite through clothing like pantyhose if the fabric’s weave is very thin.
No matter what kind of clothing you wear, always check your whole body for ticks when you get home if you think you have been in a tick-infested area.
8 Best Tips for Avoiding Tick Bites
1. Wear Long Pants and Sleeves
Long pants and long sleeves are the preferred clothing to avoid tick bites, particularly when you know you will be in an area that is rife with ticks. Ticks will drop onto clothing and then crawl under and bite where the clothing and flesh meet. You often will find ticks at your waist or lower legs.
2. Tuck Pants into Socks
Tuck your pants into your socks or wear tight-fitting clothing such as tights or leggings. The ticks will not be able to reach flesh if they are unable to crawl up the clothing.
3. Use Tick Repellant
DEET is touted to be most effective at repelling ticks but is recommended as your second line of defense. Permethrin is the way to go if you want to kill the ticks.
You can purchase clothing that is treated with permethrin, which will kill ticks after 5 to 30 seconds of exposure. This treatment can last up to 70 washings. If you treat clothing yourself, it will only last about 4-5 washings.
You can apply DEET to your legs, but wear treated clothing from top to bottom for maximum protection.
4. Avoid Brush
If you can, stay in the center of the trail to avoid brush. Adult ticks will climb up tall grass and low-lying bushes. This position gives them the perfect position to attach themselves at or above the calf.
Nymph or larval ticks will crawl up from the leaf litter, so apply permethrin and/or DEET to your shoes and socks for a good barrier.
5. Check Daily for Ticks
No matter what protection you use, don’t forget to do a daily “tick check” from top to bottom. Check your hair for ticks as well.
6. Protect Your Pets
Pets can get ticks because they are closer to the ground. They can also suffer from tick-borne illnesses. Dogs and cats can also bring ticks into your home, which can then crawl onto humans.
Getting tick preventative for your pets is important, but you must also realize that some dogs and cats are sensitive to the chemicals in those products.
Talk to your veterinarian about tick prevention products and possible tick-borne diseases that might be prevalent in your area.
Make sure you check your dog regularly, particularly after a hike or if your dog has been in the brush. You can also remove any tick habitat in your yard. If you find a tick on your dog, remove it.
Tick-borne illnesses may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your pet closely for changes in behavior or appetite if they have been bitten by a tick.
7. Shower After Outdoor Excursions
Take a shower after a hike or walk in the woods. At the very least, strip off clothing and check for ticks.
8. Wash Clothes After Being Outside
These insects might still hang around in or on your clothing, just waiting for an opportunity to bite. Take everything off and wash your clothing to keep them from having a chance to bite you later.
Hot water is recommended to kill the ticks. Cold or warm water will not kill them. You can also put the clothing in a hot dryer to kill the ticks.
FAQs About Ticks
1. Do Ticks Hide in Clothes?
You can bring ticks in on your clothing. Ticks can also drop off and hide in your bed, sheets, pillows, and blankets, where they can wait to feed on a human host.
Wear light-colored garments to make it easier to spot a tick crawling on you. Ticks can also latch more easily onto course-weaved clothing, so opt for smoother, tightly-woven fabrics.
2. How Long Can Ticks Live on Clothing?
Ticks can live on clothes for 2-3 days or a minimum of 24 hours.
3. Do Ticks Hide in Hair?
Ticks can certainly burrow into your hair and attach to your scalp. They gravitate to any place where they can hide and find skin to bite.
4. How Long Can Ticks Crawl on Your Body Before Biting?
A tick can start biting you when it finds a piece of skin to feed on. If a tick can live for 2-3 days on your clothing, it can attach at any point in time.
5. Do Extreme Temperatures Kill Ticks?
The temperature must be at least 10°F or below for a sustained number of days to kill off ticks. Certain types of ticks are not active in the fall and winter. They become dormant when cold weather arrives.
6. What Are the Best Tick Repellents?
Wondercide Insect Repellent: This DEET-free repellent is safe for kids and babies. It repels mosquitoes and ticks for up to two hours.
Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent: Ideal for protecting your clothing and gear, Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent contains Permethrin. It’s effective against more than 55 kinds of insects and reduces the likelihood of a tick bite by 73.6 times. Each trigger spray bottle treats five complete outfits.
Yaya Organics Tick Ban: Made with DEET-free ingredients, Tick Ban is made from plant-based ingredients and made in the USA with certified organic and non-GMO soybean oil, castor oil, and other natural oils. You can use this product on children, dogs, and horses. The alcohol-free formula keeps away ticks, black flies, gnats, and other bugs.
If you don’t mind using chemical-based products, as mentioned above, anything with DEET or Permethrin works well and lasts for hours.
7. How Do I Remove a Tick That Has Attached?
Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Do not twist or jerk the tick, which can cause mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, try to remove the parts with the tweezers.
After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with alcohol, soap, and water.
Dispose of the tick by:
- Flushing down the toilet
- Wrapping it tightly in tape
- Placing in a sealed bag or container
- Putting it in alcohol
Final Thoughts on Avoiding Tick Bites
Ticks are a part of nature, but that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace nature without the fear of being bitten. Wear clothing that will prevent ticks from getting to your skin, or use tick repellents and clothing treated with permethrin.
Always check for ticks after you have been in the woods or brush. Above all, don’t let the chance of a tick bite keep you from enjoying the outdoors.
Terri Nighswonger and her husband Todd are full-time RVers and work campers. They have been living full-time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Minnie Australian Shepherd, Remi.
They originate from the Midwest but plan to enjoy the west for a few years, wintering in Arizona and summering wherever the road may lead. Writing is Terri’s passion, but she also loves hiking, kayaking, walking her dogs, and anything she can do outdoors.