Tick Bites: Prevention and Safe Removal

As spring and summer season strategy and we spend extra time exterior, we additionally threat encountering ticks. Sadly, ticks aren’t simply biting bugs (technically, they don’t chew -they sting). However they’re additionally infamous vectors for diseases like Lyme illness and Rocky Mountain noticed fever. 

Understanding methods to forestall tick bites is essential for staying secure throughout out of doors adventures. Right here’s methods to keep away from tick bites and benefit from the nice outside worry-free.

Are Tick Bites Harmful?

In a phrase, sure. A minimum of, they definitely may be! Many people are conscious of the seriousness and widespread epidemic of Lyme illness, which is now extra widespread than breast most cancers. Whereas it’s potential to contract Lyme in different methods, black-legged ticks are overwhelmingly accountable. Lyme illness comes from spirochete (spiral-shaped) micro organism known as Borrelia burgdorferi.

Different much less widespread tick-borne infections embody noticed fever rickettsiosis (together with Rocky Mountain noticed fever), anaplasmosis, and babesiosis. There’s additionally ehrlichiosis, Colorado tick fever, and tularemia. It’s even potential to get tick-borne encephalitis, aka, mind irritation.

Many of those infections trigger the identical signs as Lyme illness. Though these are much less widespread than Lyme, they’re liable for a number of thousand instances of tick-related sickness in the USA every year.

Lyme illness could cause all kinds of signs. Some individuals develop a persistent fever, rashes, or complications. Others have persistent joint ache and swelling which may be misdiagnosed. Those that are particularly delicate could have allergic reactions to the micro organism. Some could even develop extreme or debilitating neurological problems. 

Lyme illness is an particularly troubling situation as a result of it may be troublesome to diagnose. Dr. Jay Davidson explains extra on this podcast.

The place Are Ticks a Drawback?

Circumstances of tick-borne illness are inclined to cluster across the northeastern United States. Nevertheless, in accordance with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC), a minimum of one case of Lyme illness has occurred in each state. Try this map of instances reported by the CDC from 1990 by means of 2021.

Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine have the best incidence price of Lyme instances. Knowledge from 2022 reveals a mean of about 200 instances per 100,000 individuals occurred in these three states. Midwestern states are additionally experiencing elevated instances lately. 

However Lyme isn’t restricted to the Northeast and the Midwest. As of 2015, nearly half the counties in the USA reported the presence of black-legged ticks. The CDC continues to watch the upward pattern.

Lyme illness is constant to unfold to different states, so be proactive and do what you’ll be able to to scale back your probabilities of tick bites. The spring and summer season are the best threat, as ticks are busy hatching and in search of their subsequent meal. 

Find out how to Verify for Ticks

Engorged ticks are simple to identify, however some may be as small as a pinhead. They like to cover in heat, moist, coated areas of the physique. 

First, bathe off to take away any unattached ticks. Then, rigorously examine for ticks by totally analyzing the hair and again of the neck, utilizing your fingertips. Listed here are another locations ticks like to cover out:

  • Behind arms
  • Behind the knees
  • In or across the ears
  • Stomach button
  • Between the legs
  • Across the waist

Slightly than play naturalist, I’ll level you to the very best tick identification instrument I’ve discovered. This helpful chart that includes photos of ticks lets you kind by area, kind, maturity levels, feeding levels, and even by the ailments varied varieties of ticks could transmit. The deer tick (black-legged tick) is the principle one to look out for, nevertheless it’s not the one one which causes issues.

What to Do If You Discover a Tick

I’ll always remember the day I leaned in to take a look at a darkish spot on my child’s head, solely to discover a TICK feasting on her scalp. I want I might say I remained composed and knew precisely what to do, however that wasn’t the case in any respect…

After a couple of extra kids, I nonetheless don’t like coping with ticks, however I’ve realized what to do once I encounter one. Should you’re a seasoned father or mother or have pets, you’ve doubtless confronted this example earlier than. Nevertheless, if you happen to haven’t, right here’s what to do:

Verify to see if the tick is hooked up. Should you spot a small, flat tick crawling in your garments, pores and skin, or flooring, it’s a very good signal, because it doubtless hasn’t bitten anybody or fed just lately. Nevertheless, if you happen to encounter a big tick with a swollen, spherical physique, it’s extra regarding as it could have already fed and indifferent from a pet or individual within the dwelling.

If unattached, don’t attempt to kill it. If the tick is unattached, resist the urge to crush, burn, or destroy it. (It’s arduous, I do know.) Don’t contact the tick along with your naked arms. As an alternative, use tweezers or a chunk of tape to seize it. Put the tick in a sealed plastic bag or small jar within the freezer. This each kills the tick and preserves it for identification if signs of Lyme illness develop.

If hooked up, right here’s what to do (and to not do): 

How NOT to Take away a Tick

There are many dwelling treatment options for tick removing, however these could do extra hurt than good. Burning the tick, utilizing important oils, or greasing it with petroleum jelly could sound like good concepts. Nevertheless, these methods can irritate the tick, making issues worse.

I don’t care a couple of tick’s emotions, but when the tick is irritated, it could possibly vomit the contents of its abdomen (pathogens included!) into the pores and skin. That’s precisely what we don’t wish to occur!

For years, the correct tick removing code has been to make use of a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and pull it straight out. Whereas this will work, it could possibly additionally go away the tick’s head or mouth-parts embedded within the pores and skin. 

(Sidenote: I can not inform you the variety of instances I’ve felt an invisible tick crawling on me whereas penning this submit!)

What to Do As an alternative: Secure Tick Elimination 

As an alternative, use a tick-removal machine like this one. It resembles a spork. You insert it between the tick and the pores and skin, then twist gently till the tick releases. I hold one on my keychain throughout tick season.

In contrast to the tweezer methodology, this machine is more likely to lead to a clear removing. The prongs on both aspect assist make sure the tick mouth doesn’t bend too far to the aspect and snap off whereas rotating.

Should you don’t have a tick removing instrument, use tweezers, however make sure you seize the tick as near the top/mouth as potential.

Find out how to Take away a Tick

  1. First, attempt to ignore the super-mom adrenaline pumping by means of your physique!
  2. Method the tick from the aspect with a tick machine or tweezers.
  3. Slide the notched tick removing machine beneath the bottom of the tick head and the pores and skin. If utilizing tweezers, apply them firmly as near the mouth/pores and skin as potential.
  4. With a agency, slight lifting movement, gently spin the tick remover till the tick detaches itself. If utilizing tweezers, pull up firmly however repeatedly. Don’t jerk or twist.
  5. Put the tick in a sealed bag, mark it with the date, and put it within the freezer. This kills it and saves it for identification if Lyme signs come up.
  6.  Make it possible for there aren’t any tick components left embedded within the pores and skin. If there are, pulling it out with tweezers like a splinter or utilizing a drawing salve may be useful.
  7.  Wash the chew space with cleaning soap and water and apply an antimicrobial, like rubbing alcohol, to the realm. Diluted lavender or this germ-fighting important oil mix are additionally good choices.

How/The place to Ship a Tick For Testing

Testing for tick-borne sickness in people is incessantly inaccurate. The ELISA check usually run by healthcare suppliers in native clinics typically comes again unfavourable when different assessments present an an infection. In actual fact, it could miss over half of all Lyme instances. A Western Blot check could also be extra correct, however solely when interpreted by completely different requirements than the CDC’s. 

One of the crucial trusted laboratories for Lyme illness testing is Igenex.. Along with Lyme, additionally they display for different tick-borne diseases. One instance is ehrlichiosis, which targets white blood cells. One other is babesiosis, which impacts pink blood cells. In addition they check for infections like anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain noticed fever. These co-infections can manifest signs much like Lyme illness. 

For a extra budget-friendly different, there’s Vibrant Wellness. Whereas akin to Igenex, it comes at a decrease price. Vibrant Wellness provides complete Lyme panels. They’ll detect completely different borrelia species in addition to co-infections widespread with Lyme illness. These corporations permit sufferers to request a house check or ship the tick (lifeless or alive) to have it examined for infections. 

Likelihood is doubtless that every one shall be nicely if the an infection is caught early and dealt with correctly. However that stated, right here’s what to search for: 

Signs of Tick-Borne Sickness

In response to the CDC, potential signs of a tick-borne an infection are:

  • A relapsing fever and chills (flu-like signs)
  • Achy joints or muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • A big round rash that appears like a bullseye across the chew website (known as erythema migrans)

The bullseye rash doesn’t all the time happen, so it’s crucial to examine for different signs. Youngsters will generally develop tick paralysis, which causes non permanent numbness and tingling. For a whole checklist of signs, see the CDC’s tick web page. 

Dr. Jay Davidson provides {that a} sore sternum (the bone over the breast) could also be one other signal of contracting Lyme.

Should you suspect tick-related sickness, seek the advice of with a physician straight away, as early intervention could assist. Dr. Davidson recommends taking Ledum palustre, a homeopathic treatment, as a pure first help. An alternative choice is to use andrographis tincture on the recent chew to assist forestall illness transmission all through the physique. 

Tick Prevention Is the Finest Remedy (for Now)

You may take some preventative measures to keep away from ticks within the first place, decreasing your threat of tick- and different insect bites. The choices for battling ticks aren’t excellent (particularly if you happen to choose to keep away from chemical substances, as I do), and I can solely hope we now have extra choices for controlling the Lyme outbreak on the horizon. 

Till then, listed here are among the steps we are able to take immediately to let our youngsters go adventuring with out fear:

1. Tick-Proof Your Yard

It’s most likely no shock that I don’t suggest skilled chemical sprays for the yard, even to scale back ticks. Whereas many corporations tout this as “secure,” if it kills ticks, it most likely isn’t good in your pets or youngsters, not to mention the surroundings and different innocent bugs in your yard.

There are fairly a couple of logical (and pure) steps to discourage ticks:

  • Maintain the grass brief. Ticks are generally present in lawns, significantly in areas with tall grass, dense vegetation, and leaf litter. Maintain your garden well-maintained by mowing frequently and eradicating tall grass, brush, and leaf litter.
  • Prune dense landscaping. Trim again overhanging branches and prune shrubs to permit extra daylight to succeed in the bottom. Ticks choose shaded, humid environments, so rising daylight publicity could make the garden much less hospitable for them.
  • Mulch with cedar chips. Research present ticks and cedar oil don’t combine. Since ticks crawl and don’t fly, strive mulching the perimeter of your yard with cedar chips or between your yard and grassy areas to discourage them from crossing.
  • Strive including nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic worms which are pure tick predators. You should purchase them on-line or at backyard shops and introduce them into your yard, backyard, or surrounding wooded areas whereas watering. Don’t fear — They’re non-toxic and don’t hurt useful bugs like ladybugs. However they could be a large assist in controlling tick populations.
  • Take into account Tick Tubes: Tick tubes are cardboard cylinders crammed with handled cotton that mice carry again to their nests. The handled cotton kills ticks on the mice, decreasing the probability of ticks attaching to people.
  • Get yard chickens! Apart from offering recent eggs, they eat ticks! Chickens are pure foragers and can peck at bugs they encounter, together with ticks. They may help scale back ticks within the areas surrounding your own home.

2. Use Pure Bug Repellent

Though the EWG (Environmental Working Group) concludes DEET is a fairly secure possibility at decrease concentrations, it’s not beneficial for pregnant ladies or kids below six months. Many research additionally level to potential negative effects from utilizing DEET and different insect repellents like permethrin, together with dizziness, complications, and even seizures.

Whereas I take ticks and the specter of Lyme illness critically, I favor utilizing pure bug repellents, particularly since research present important oils like citronella may be as efficient as DEET. My pure bug spray recipe makes use of a number of important oils proven in research to repel ticks: geranium, citronella, and lemon eucalyptus.

Pure bug repellent is very helpful (and efficient) for repelling these tiny nymph ticks you can not see in a tick examine. In any case, it’s higher to be distasteful to ticks so that you don’t get bitten within the first place!

Taking sure herbs as a complement could assist from the within out. Astragalus is an herb from Conventional Chinese language Drugs that will assist repel ticks whereas supporting the immune system. Lyme professional Stephen Buhner recommends adults take 1,000 mg of Astragalus day by day to beat back ticks.

3. Verify for Ticks Every day

I do know it’s not enjoyable, however, with apply, it turns into a behavior. Put a full-length mirror within the lavatory, and/or train youngsters to examine themselves and one another. The black-legged tick nymph most frequently transmits Lyme illness, and it’s solely concerning the dimension of a poppy seed. That is essentially the most complete checklist I’ve discovered for methods to conduct a whole tick examine.

I do know it’s not simple to get youngsters to cease what they’re doing and sit nonetheless, so we construct it into the routine earlier than lunch, dinner, and bedtime, together with the wash arms/brush enamel step. This website has a free exercise e-book for educating younger kids methods to examine for ticks.

4. Observe Good Mountaineering Hygiene

Ticks love wooded trails, tall grassy fields, and areas with dense brush.

However I refuse to let ticks spoil our love for mountain climbing, tenting, and simply being outside in the summertime. Be sensible when mountain climbing and observe the following tips for avoiding ticks:

  • Put on protecting clothes: Put on long-sleeved shirts when mountain climbing in a high-tick space and tuck pants into socks. This apply may help forestall ticks from crawling onto uncovered pores and skin. Gentle-colored clothes additionally helps make ticks extra seen.
  • Select excessive boots quite than athletic sneakers: Once more, you’ll wish to keep away from simply accessible pores and skin. 
  • Put on a wide-brimmed hat: Huge-brimmed hats can hold ticks from crawling from tall brush onto the again of your neck or hair.
  • Take into account permethrin clothes: I don’t love the concept of utilizing chemical substances, however I really like the concept of Lyme illness even much less! Permethrin is an artificial model of a pure insecticide present in chrysanthemum flowers. It kills ticks on contact and could also be price contemplating for these adventuring in high-risk areas.
  • Keep on the paths: Ticks love the comb and tall grass. They’re simply ready so that you can enterprise off into the rugged terrain!
  • Do an after-hike tick examine: Verify for ticks earlier than getting within the automotive after a hike, or use a sticky lint curler on garments to catch tiny ticks.
  • Head to the laundry room! Take away mountain climbing garments and put them instantly within the dryer for 10 minutes on excessive warmth to kill ticks.
  • End up with a very good soak: Bathe or bathe as quickly as potential after mountain climbing. Make sure to take action inside 2 hours of coming inside.

It’d seem to be a wierd household exercise, however we hold robes within the mudroom! That means, we are able to strip off after mountain climbing, throw the whole lot within the dryer, and head proper for the showers.

5. Defend Pets

Pets are additionally vulnerable to tick-borne ailments, and it’s typically tougher to find ticks due to all that fur. Verify canine and cats totally earlier than permitting them in the home. You may also strive making use of a couple of drops of geranium important oil round a canine’s collar however don’t use this methodology (or any important oils) on cats.

Last Ideas

Whereas these strategies may help scale back your threat of tick bites, it’s nonetheless vital to do common tick checks, particularly throughout peak tick season (Might by means of August). Should you discover a tick hooked up to your pores and skin, take away it straight away –the fitting means– to scale back your threat of tick-borne ailments. Should you do develop signs, like rash, fever, or muscle aches, search medical consideration instantly.

Have you ever ever had a tick chew? What did you do? Do you will have different concepts to forestall them?

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