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This TGO answer recommends putting possibly tick-infested clothing into a dedicated dryer, where they will be killed by desiccation. The source used in the answer, the Appalachian Mountain Club, should know.

But what about finding/removing/killing ticks in one's hair? Every source says to examine one's body carefully to find and remove ticks. Easy to say, but I have often wondered how to examine the portion of my head, or someone else's head, covered by hair.

What is the best way to search for ticks that may have taken up residence in the forest of one's hair, particularly the ticks that carry Lyme's Disease? This year will probably be a banner year for ticks in the Northeast of the US, so this question is a real concern.

Eventually, the tick will dig in, and then itch, and it will be easier to find, but still not easy to zero in on it and tweeze it out. The dryer answer suggests that one might be able to eliminate the search and use a hair dryer.

Is there any information on the best way to find a tick on one's head, and/or the efficacy of a hair dryer to desiccate the tick to death?

(Please, no answers about covering up or using DEET or other repellants or avoiding long grass or foliage :) Assume a tick.)

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    Why the united-states tag? Just asking because e.g. here (Switzerland, central europe) ticks are rampant as well and I'd imagine finding them in hair shouldn't differ by location (if the ticks are different at all). – imsodin Apr 29 at 11:22
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    @imsodin The most worrisome ticks where I live are those carrying Lyme Disease, and they are very small. – ab2 Apr 29 at 12:40
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    I only know about one kind of tick here, and they do carry lime disease. I have no clue whether they are dog or deer and how big they are in comparison, but they aren't that easy to spot. Essentially, I still think this question is useful outside of the US as well ;) – imsodin Apr 29 at 15:17
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    Much as I wish the USA had a monopoly on tiny, Lyme-disease-carrying ticks, they're widespread in Europe as well. In the US they're either Ixodes scapularis or I. pacificus; in Europe they're the closely related I. ricinus. All can carry Lyme disease and all are < 2 mm long in the nymph stage. In Europe many also carry tick-borne encephalitis (even less pleasant than Lyme disease and potentially fatal). The I. ricinus range also spreads well into Asia. I agree with @imsodin that this is not a US-specific question. – Pont Apr 29 at 16:29
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    I imagine using a lice comb would work to remove any that aren't embedded yet as most normal combs would not be fine enough to dislodge small ones. – topshot Apr 30 at 13:40
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TL;DR: comb your scalp systematically with your fingers, wash your hair to remove them from hair (be careful with laundry carrying ticks home too), and try to catch/prevent them getting into your hair in the first place.


Great question. I worked in the woods with long hair under a hard hat, and wow did I accumulate ticks. I'd reliably find >5 per day. I did end up getting Lyme, thankfully diagnosing and treating it early - I share that caveat to say, take my advice with a grain of salt! Still, I got a lot of experience finding ticks from that. When I was in tick prone areas, it became habitual to do tick checks of two sorts: 1) in-field quick checks to clear off clothing, and 2) end of day thorough checks to clear off body.

1) In the field: At any breaks in the day we would do a quick 'pat down' of ourselves, quickly touching and visually inspecting our bodies from head to tow. Hair was mostly neglected in these checks, but getting rid of ticks you spot in these checks reduces the chances they'll be able to settle into your hair. An important note about hair and all body parts is that we kept mostly covered, even despite brutal heat and humidity, to avoid ticks and other bugs. Pants tucked into socks, shirt tucked into pants and outer shirt over that, sometimes gloves and bandana mask when bugs were very bad. I had long hair, and I learned the importance of neatly tying my hair up in a bun resting at the back of my head and tucking it under my hard hat. For one, hair gets messy in the woods in general, and two, the way hair accumulates messiness can also accumulate ticks. Don't give them any easy platforms to catch on to, and keep your head and hair out of the bushes and grass they linger in if possible.

2) At home: Pretty soon after returning home, some privacy and a shower is necessary. Put all your clothes in the wash and/or dryer ASAP (or store them separate from 'tick-free' areas at least), clean yourself off, then touch every inch of your body with your finger tips head to toe. Get in the habit of being excessively detailed about it, you want to see and touch every part of you to catch any little bump and inspect it. It's good to get in the habit of inspecting yourself anyway. Showering before thorough inspection is helpful, especially with long hair, as the soapy water can release loose ticks from hair. When you inspect your head, the same principle of detailed inspection applies: touch every part of your scalp, combing it carefully with your finger tips. Do this systematically in rows so you cover every spot of your scalp. If you washed your hair, you've reduced the chance that some ticks are stowing away there. With long hair, doing additional feel-throughs while it's clean between trips to the woods is a good idea to catch stragglers.

Other than that, keep an eye out for symptoms and bullseye marks when you've worked in a tick prone area. Lyme is unpleasant but what makes it really debilitating is misdiagnosing it for months or years: if you have potential symptoms, insist on tests or preemptive treatment.

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