Warm weather is here which makes most people happy and excited about being able to enjoy outdoor activities. However, with the warm weather also comes an increased number of ticks and since we are in Connecticut, where Lyme disease was first discovered, the concern and fear about getting infected also increase. Ticks are not supposed to be a problem during the winter because of the low temperatures which slow down their replication; unfortunately, our winter was not that cold this year and we have had patients complaining about finding ticks on their pets or themselves in the middle of the winter which means we might have a pretty active Lyme season.
Here are some tips on what to do during the season:
- Tick prevention outfit- Wear light-colored clothes so it’s easier to find ticks. Put your hair up and tuck it in. Wear long pants and long socks over them, this creates a barrier to your skin. If it’s not too hot, wear light colored long sleeve shirts and tuck them in to create a barrier. Wear a light-colored hat, it’s harder to see ticks on your hair or head.
- Tick Removal- Carry fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool with you whenever you think you’ll be exposed to ticks (hiking, camping, gardening, walk in the forest, etc). Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upwards with steady and even pressure. Do not twist or pull briskly because you could leave pieces of the tick inside and it will go into the bloodstream. After removing the tick, clean the area and also your hands with either soap and water, rubbing alcohol or whatever you have in hand that can sanitize the area.
- Tick testing- after removing the tick, you could get it tested for tick borne diseases by some laboratories. Contact your provider to determine what is the best option in your area. To keep the tick viable for testing, place the tick on a damp paper towel and put it in a sealed plastic bag.
- Pets- Check your pets every time they come in the house after being outside. To remove the ticks, use the same technique explained above. Don’t use your hands to squeeze or crush the ticks.
- Checking yourself- If you don’t have someone that can help, use a mirror to check yourself for ticks. Check yourself as soon as you get in the house. Ticks have an anesthetic in their mouth so you won’t feel the bite if you get bit by one. They seem to love warm regions like armpits, groin, behind knees, etc. Don’t walk around the house with the same clothes you wore outside, if you have ticks attached to your clothes, then they can attach to couches, pillows, sheets, etc
- After checking yourself- Take a shower and put your clothes in the dryer at high heat, ticks will die from the heat.
- Repellent: Cover yourself and your pets with pest repellents. Make sure the one you use for your pets is safe for animals. Here is a recipe of a natural pest repellent (some of the ingredients might not be safe for pets, ask your veterinarian and modify):
- 20 Drops of Rose Geranium Essential Oil
- 10 Drops of Sweetgrass Essential Oil
- 5 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil
- 5 Drops of Citronella or Lemon Essential Oil
- 4oz of Rubbing Alcohol, Vodka, Apple Cider Vinegar, Witch Hazel or Distilled Water
- Glass spray bottle
*Recipe source: https://commonsensehome.com/natural-tick-repellents/
If you develop a rash, have unexplained symptoms or get bit by a tick, contact your healthcare provider to help you determine what you should do. Lyme is a very serious disease, protect yourself and your family and seek medical help when needed.
Dr. Yarilis Vazquez, ND
Naturopathic Doctor- Sophia Natural Health