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  • Writer's pictureNanci Miklowski, ND

Tick Season is Not Over

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Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease: Prevent Tick Bites

Adult ticks are still active right now and they can be any time temperatures are above freezing. In some states like California and Virginia, they can be active all year. These arachnids attach low and crawl up, with a goal to reach the head of their host. They do not jump, fly, or drop from trees. Ticks are typically found in leaf litter, tall grass, shrubs along forest edges, and other moist, shady environments. You can use this resource to learn about ticks that live in your area, what time of year they are active, and what diseases they carry.

Certain ticks can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease and the best protection against Lyme disease is to not get bitten. This includes knowing how to protect your skin and clothing to repel ticks, how to properly scan for ticks that have latched on, and how to remove a tick. Time is of the essence when it comes to removing a tick you find on the skin – yours or a pet. If removed promptly, there is a significantly reduced likelihood that the tick can transmit the infection.

Protect Yourself From Tick Bites

  • Wear clothing that covers your limbs during hikes, gardening, time spent in parks, etc. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks. Tuck pants into your socks to prevent ticks from crawling under.

  • Treat clothing, shoes, and gear with tick repellants. There are many types of repellents that are recommended by the EPA and CDC. I use this product on my family's clothing. One application will last 6 weeks or 6 washings, whichever comes first. It both repels and kills ticks (as well as mosquitoes, chiggers, and more). If you have a skin condition that might be aggravated by chemicals in repellants, please talk with your holistic healthcare provider first. A chemical-free clothing alternative that is impenetrable to ticks is RynoSkin.

  • Apply repellant properly to yourself and children. This spray did a great job at repelling ticks when my daugther was in forest school for several hours a day. Make sure to reapply every 30 minutes. Even sprays that contain DEET or picardin lose effectiveness after a half hour. For an overview of tick repellants visit: Using Insect and Tick Repellants Safely

  • Don't forget to also spray pets with a natural repellent. This is my favorite.

  • Walk in the center of trails and walkways in wooded areas.

  • Watch for signs that indicate high tick activity such as an overabundance of deer and reconsider your activities in light of that information.

  • Check yourself, children, gear, and pets after spending time outdoors. Thoroughly check the skin around the ears, neck, scalp, underarms, waist and belly button, back of knees, and the ankles. If you had sandals on, check the top and bottom of the feet and between the toes. Be sure to have a family member help with areas you can't see or reach.

  • Before getting into the car, use a lint roller on clothes to remove any ticks. Consider changing your clothes.

  • Check children who are too young to thoroughly check themselves.

  • Shower within 2 hours of returning home, after checking for ticks.

  • Wash and dry clothing used outdoors in hot water and high heat.

What To Do If a Tick is Attached to Your Skin

First, don't follow any gimmicks or urban legends about removing a tick such as putting nail polish or a recently lit match on the tick. The best way to learn how to remove a tick is to see it being done properly. The Tick Bite Bot walks you through removal of a tick from the skin. Dr. Crista also does a great job at showing how to properly remove a tick.

Once removed, place the tick in a resealable plastic bag. Tick Report is a place you can send the tick to have it tested. It does not need to be alive for accurate testing. TickSpotters is a fantastic and free resource that allows you to upload a picture of the tick from which you will be provided with the species, life stage, and estimated time attached. This information can help you and your practitioner decide if testing is needed.

Whether the tick is tested or not, it's important to remove the tick immediately, treat and monitor the area, and follow-up with your holistic healthcare practitioner.

Additional Resources

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