What every outdoor enthusiast in the UK needs to know.

Lyme Disease

Recent research suggests that Lyme disease may be three times more common in the UK than previously thought. With estimated cases up from 2,000 or 3,000 per year to 8,000 per year, it’s more important than ever for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the UK to take steps to protect themselves from this potentially debilitating disease.  

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi which is spread by tick bites. Ticks are tiny arachnids commonly found in woodland, moorland and other grassy areas where they feed on the blood of mammals, such as deer and birds.

In general, the longer an infected tick has been attached to the skin, the greater the risk of passing on the infection. Evidence suggests that ticks need to be attached and feeding for some time (perhaps as long as 24 hours) before there is a risk of becoming infected. 

Who’s most at risk from Lyme disease?

Lyme disease can affect anyone but, because Lyme disease is caused by tick bites, the people who are most at risk are those who spend a lot of time in the outdoors — in the areas of woodland, heathland or long grass where ticks are most common. So, if you’re a camper, walker, hunter or someone who enjoys walking your dog in the countryside, you need to be conscious of the dangers of Lyme disease — and take appropriate steps to minimise the risks.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

The most common, and noticeable, symptom, of Lyme disease is a rash (erythema migrans) that can appear between 3 days and a month after the tick bite. Starting as a small red dot at the bite site, it often grows larger over time. The centre of the spot may fade creating a characteristic “bull’s eye” appearance. People often report “flu-like” symptoms such as headaches, a sore throat, general fatigue, muscle aches and a fever.

Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious long-term complications including swelling and pain in large joints, conjunctivitis and eye pain and inflammation of the heart (myocarditis). It’s certainly not the sort of condition to ignore.

How is Lyme disease diagnosed?

Lyme disease is normally diagnosed by a physical examination. Diagnosis can be difficult, though — particularly in cases where there is no tell-tale rash. Infection is confirmed by blood tests which look for antibodies which have been produced in response to the infection. Early diagnosis is really important — and it all starts with a prompt visit to your GP.

How is Lyme disease normally treated?

Lyme disease is generally treated using antibiotics. The treatment will last for up to three weeks to ensure that the bacteria have been killed. As with all antibiotic prescriptions, it’s essential that the full course of the prescription is followed to prevent the wider spread of the bacteria.

As someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, what can I do to protect myself from Lyme disease?

Step One - Avoid Tick Bites

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to protect yourself from tick bites and there are several easy changes to your routine that will dramatically reduce the chances of getting bitten.

  1. When you’re in the outdoors, try and stay to the middle of paths and, where possible, avoid walking through long grass or thick vegetation.
  2. Steer clear of damp, boggy areas and avoid resting on logs or leaning against trees.
  3. Cover up your limbs, wear a hat and tuck in your hair.
  4. Wear shoes or boots rather than sandals or bare feet.
  5. Tuck your trousers into your socks!
  6. Consider using a chemical repellent on your clothing — or, even better, choose Rovince clothing with built-in repellency — see our recommendations below.
  7. Check yourself and your companions every few hours for ticks — remember, they can be as small as a pinhead.
  8. If you find a tick, follow the guidelines in Step Two — and consult your GP promptly if symptoms develop.

Step Two - Remove a Tick Safely and Promptly

  1. Keep calm. Only a small minority of ticks carry the infection and the risk of developing an infection increases the longer the tick is attached to your skin. If the tick is removed within the first few hours after a bite, you are very unlikely to develop Lyme disease.
  2. So, take your time and remove the tick carefully and safely — rather than in a rush.
  3. If you have a special tick removal tool you should use that. These are widely available and should be a key component in your first aid kit. The method for removing the tick varies according to the design of the tool, so read the instructions carefully.
  4. If you’re removing the tick with tweezers, choose ones with a narrow head. Grasp the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible and pull upwards steadily and gently until the tick is removed.
  5. Wash the area with soap and water and antiseptic as soon as possible after removal.
  6. Check the skin over the next few weeks to see if a rash develops.
  7. If a rash, or any other symptoms, develop make an appointment with your GP and report being bitten by a tick.
  8. Your GP will make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment if necessary. Don’t ignore the initial symptoms — the long-term complications of Lyme disease can be very serious indeed.

Clothing recommendations to help prevent Lyme disease: our top picks to stop tick bites.

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks — and the best way to do that is to cover up as much as possible. 

So, long-sleeved shirts are better than short-sleeve shirts and long trousers are better than shorts. Boots or shoes clearly offer more protection than sandals; covering your neck and tucking your hair away into a hat are also worth considering. 

Choosing clothing with built-in tick repellency is an easy, convenient way to increase your protection levels — and decrease the risk of infection from Lyme disease.

Rovince clothing with permethrin technology is the perfect choice — the application of permethrin converts regular outdoor clothing into a convenient, comfortable and effective first line of defence against ticks. Permethrin is an invisible odourless ingredient which is, in the quantities used in Rovince clothing, completely harmless to humans. It’s a contact insecticide which creates a “hot-feet effect” on insects, causing them to leave the treated substance as quickly as possible. It’s also very durable — because it’s so tightly bonded to the fabric’s fibres it retains its effectiveness for at least 80 washes.

Picks for men

Picks for women