Prevention of Lyme and Ticks
My intention with this Series on Lyme Disease is to help bring awareness about the many ways that Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases can present themselves and imitate other chronic diseases. I also wanted to instill optimism in the integrated approach to healing Early, Late and Chronic Lyme. Avoiding getting Lyme in the first place is essential. So, this Episode is about Preventing Lyme by avoiding Ticks and Protecting your Body and Environment as much as possible. Prevention is always the Best Medicine! It is worth the extra efforts too…
About Ticks and Lyme Disease
Ticks are small crawling bugs in the spider family. They are arachnids, not insects. There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks in the world. Many of them carry bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that causeTicks don’t start out being infected with Lyme. They get it by feeding on an infected animal, often a mouse or other small rodent. Then, they pass it along to the next animal or person they bite.
How long does it take the tick to transmit Lyme?
Experts disagree about how long it takes a tick to transmit Lyme disease. 30% of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite. If people don’t even realize that they were bitten, how could they know how long the tick was attached? The longer a tick stays on you, the more likely it will transmit disease. It’s important to find and remove any tick as soon as possible.
Can other bugs give me Lyme?
Researchers have found spirochetes in mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects. But it has not been proven that they can transmit the infection. Spirochetes have co-evolved with ticks over millions of years. Tick saliva contains immune suppressors that help disseminate the bacteria throughout the host’s body. And, because ticks feed on many different animals, they can spread the disease widely.
Where do we find ticks?
Generally, you can find ticks where the animals they feed on live. This usually includes wooded and grassy areas. An adult tick “quests” for its next blood meal by climbing up grasses and bushes to wait for an animal to pass by. Nymphs and larvae are typically found in layers of decomposing leaves underneath trees. Ticks thrive in damp environments and are less active in hot, dry weather.
Adult ticks feed and mate primarily on deer. You may also find adult ticks on dogs, horses, and other domesticated animals. Nymphs feed primarily on smaller animals. These include squirrels, mice, lizards, rabbits, and birds that feed on the ground. Migratory birds help distribute ticks throughout the country.
A multitude of environmental and human factors has created a near “perfect storm”.
Over the past 20 years leading to a population explosion of ticks throughout North America.
Protection and Prevention from Ticks
Your best defense against tick-borne illness is to avoid contact with ticks in the first place. Your next best defense is to quickly find and remove ticks that may latch on to you.
Avoid Tick Habitat
Ticks tend to be near the ground, in leaf litter, grasses, bushes and fallen logs. High risk activities include playing in leaves, gathering firewood, and leaning against tree trunks. When you hike, stay on cleared trails instead of walking across grassy fields.
Dress to Protect
Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves. Tie back long hair and wear a hat. Light-colored clothing helps you spot ticks before they cause trouble.
Natural Tick Repellants
Essential Oils not only smell great, but they are also known to be natural tick repellents. Ticks hate the smell of lemon, orange, cinnamon, lavender, peppermint, and rose geranium so they’ll avoid latching on to anything that smells of those items. Other Essential Oils that make great Tick Repellants are Eucalyptus, Cedar, Tea Tree and Citronella. Any of these or a combination can be used in DIY sprays or added to almond oil and rubbed on exposed skin. Use 100% certified organic essential oils.
Check For Ticks
When outdoors, periodically inspect your clothing and skin for ticks. Brush off those that aren’t attached and remove any that are.
Once home, take a shower right away. This will wash away unattached ticks and offer a good chance to thoroughly inspect yourself. Feel for bumps that might be embedded ticks. Pay careful attention to hidden places, including groin, armpits, back of knees, belly button and scalp. Parents should check their children.
Dry Clothes at High Heat
Running your clothes in a hot dryer for 10 minutes before you wash them will kill any ticks that may be there.
Protect Your Pets
Ticks can infect dogs and cats, too. Also, their fur can act like a “tick magnet,” carrying ticks inside your home. Consult with your veterinarian about tick-protection for your pets.
- Don’t squeeze, twist or squash it. Don’t burn it with a match or cover it with Vaseline.
- Use fine-point tweezers or a special tick-removing tool. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. If you don’t have tweezers, protect your fingers with a tissue
- Pull the tick straight out with steady, even pressure.
- Disinfect the bite area and wash your hands.
- Save the tick for testing (alive if possible) in a small bottle or plastic bag with a green leaf or damp piece of tissue.
- Label it with your name, date, site of bite and how long tick was attached.
If you’ve been bitten, you can send the tick to test and determine if the tick is carrying the pathogens that can lead to tick-borne illness to the following organizations:
Whether or not you find a tick, stay alert for symptoms of tick-borne illness. A bull’s-eye rash indicates Lyme disease, though not everybody with Lyme gets one. You might have a different rash or none at all. You may develop flu-like symptoms—fever, headache, nausea—or joint pain or dizziness. Consult a physician as needed.
- eliminating birdfeeders, birdbaths, and salt licks.
- erecting fencing around the property.
- clearing away woodpiles, garbage, and leaf piles.
- removing stonewalls that provide homes to wildlife.
- having your property chemically treated.
Dr. Gabrielle Francis is a Naturopathic Doctor, Chiropractor, and Acupuncturist that supports patients recovering from Lyme disease with Natural Medicine.