We’re now moving into tick season. If you look for advice on ticks, almost all sources say the same thing. Here, for instance, is what it says at Wild Survival:

Dress for the outdoors by wearing light colored clothesl Wear long pants tucked into socks or boots. Long sleeves protect bare arms. Do not go barefoot or in sandals. Routinely inspect clothing for ticks.

You can find similar advice at the Columbia County Board of Health or the Nassau County Health Department or the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

So, there you are, in the middle of summer, wearing your shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, long sleeves, hat. You might as well be wearing a space suit. At least a space suit has air conditioning.

The advice we see here looks typical of a lot of advice that is given. Somebody, somewhere, made a best guess, and then everybody else just picks up on it without really analyzing it. We see that a lot when it comes to the myths regarding bare feet. Somebody makes a guess, and it becomes “accepted wisdom” without any strong factual basis.

How do we really dress for the summer? Shorts. Light clothing.

So, if you are wearing shorts anyways, does wearing shoes really make much of a difference in regards to ticks? Probably not. But then again, maybe it does. Because the socks that are being worn give the ticks a new hiding place while they search for a place to attach.

The solution to that is, ta-da, go barefoot. If you are not into completely wrapping yourself up for the summer (yuck), then the best solution is to expose as much skin as possible so that you can see the ticks. Wear shorter shorts; go barefoot.

That way, it is very easy to spot them before they have a chance to attach anywhere. After or during a barefoot hike, I have occasionally found one climbing up my leg, but I have never had one attach. The only time I’ve ever had ticks attach was when my dog brought one home.

So, bottom line? Going barefoot adds no additional risk from ticks, and in fact may reduce the risk by making it easier to find them before they attach and can transmit disease. And once again, the common “advice” is promulgated without actual knowledge.


4 Responses to “Ticks”

  1. Dave Says:

    As an avid nudist, it is common knowledge in nudist circles that wearing less provides more protection from ticks and the Lyme disease they are known to carry. This is because ticks will look for a snug place to attach, which clothing can provide where it constricts against the body. As you mentioned in your article, spotting a tick underneath clothing is much more difficult than spotting a tick walking across open skin. I’ve returned from nude hiking many times and had to swat off multiple ticks, but never once had one attach. While we cannot unfortunately hike nude all the time, we can at least hike barefoot and have no fear of a tick getting lodged in our footwear.

  2. Wendy Says:

    Hubby wore shoes and socks to mow the lawn yesterday and ended up wtih a tick between his toes! So much for shoes and socks as protection!

  3. Ticks | Living Barefoot Says:

    […] Ticks: “ […]

  4. Mike Says:

    This is, quite possibly, the dumbest thing I’ve read in quite some time.

    Being in a field which works out doors, I find the fact that someone chooses to not have protection on their feet, to be both absurd and idiotic.

    Wearing shoes isn’t something that people “blindly follow because of a best guess that someone came up with”. Shoes provide protection, and yet one more line of defense against things that bite, stab, poison, and cause general discomfort.

    If you’d like to go barefoot, or even nude, that’s your choice. God bless America. But suggesting it’s a better alternative than wearing protective garments designed to reduce things like disease, infection, and injury, is pompous, arrogant, and holds no water in an argument against self-preservation.

    I’d like to read how you protect against chiggers, melanoma, and sharp sticks.

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