The most dangerous thing you can encounter in airsoft isn’t a too-hot HPA death machine. It’s probably one of these horrible little things:
This isn’t an enjoyable subject but it is an important one. If you spend some of your weekends crashing about in the woods and fields we use for airsoft, you need to know about ticks and about Lymes Disease. I caught Lymes a few years ago and it made me pretty unwell for a while until diagnosed and treated. I never found the tick, I didn’t have the bulls-eye rash but I’m now much, much more careful.
I’m not going to much go into Lymes and its prevalence in the UK. For this, I’d recommend the NHS or wider HMG pages on the subject. A good leaflet is here. I want to concentrate on what you need to know as an airsofter:
- Make it hard for the bastards to bite you
- Check yourself every time you come home
- Know how to remove one safely, if you have been bitten
Make it hard for the bastards to bite you
- Use insect repellent on your ankles and cuffs. And if you’re super keen or are going to spending loads of time in long bracken etc, on your collar as well. This will make it less likely that the ticks will get onto you and start moving to the dark, sweaty bits they like.
- You can also tuck trousers in, use trouser twists etc and keep sleeves down although #herosleeves are ally…
- Hats are good as well.
Check yourself every time you come home
- After a game, check over yourself. The science says that it takes an infected tick at least 8hrs or so to transfer any bacteria to you so you’ve got a decent window to remove any ticks before you’re at risk.
- When you get home then, have a shower give yourself a check over. Pay special attention to the backs of your knees, groin, backs of arms, head and neck. A very good mate of mine spent the first night on his honeymoon having his brand new, official Mrs remove a tick from a very intimate area – definitely an early test of trust and love.
- Also keep an eye out for rashes, funny marks etc – things like the pic below – in case something bit you and then dropped off.
Know how to remove one safely, if you have been bitten
- Not every tick carries Lymes but some do (as well as other disease). But, you do find one, you need to know how to remove it safely.
- Forget anything you’ve read or been told about burning them off or drowning them in vaseline – these methods will cause the tick to vomit into you, giving you a full dose of whatever it’s carrying. You need to remove it safely, not just remove it.
- This is super easy. Use tweezers or a tick specific tool to grab as much of the little bastard as possible, and then gently pull. There’s no clockwise twisting or anything like that, just grab it as close to your skin as possible, and gently pull.
- Once it’s out, chuck it down the loo and commit it to the deep. Some people recommend keeping it for testing but UK medics don’t seem to go in for that in mt experience, your may vary.
If, after having been bitten you have any of the following symptoms, get thee to the GP ASAP and tell them you might have Lymes Disease and want to be tested for it.
- Multiple flu-like symptoms such as fever and sweats, chills, fatigue, neck pain or stiffness, headaches, joint or muscle pains
- Nerve pains, which may be sharp or prickly
- Tiredness, fatigues
- Loss of concentration, memory and other neurological weirdness (not a clinical term)
There is a blood test but generally, treatment is an immediate boat-load of antibiotics for a couple of weeks, after which you’re as good as new.
So, that’s what you need to know. Forewarned is forearmed. It was the achy joints, fatigue and insomnia, coupled with a more sluggish memory and brain in general that tipped me off. Because I had a lot of the secondary symptoms, it wasn’t clearly Lymes so they did a bloody test and when that came back positive, out came the antibiotics.
Lymes disease – based on my personal review, not recommended by Airsoft J2