The weather is warming up, and this always means my inbox is full of emails from patients asking how they can reduce their chance of tick bites while still connecting to the earth outside.
Ticks carrying the Lyme disease bacteria (Borrelia Burgdorferi) have been found in all 50 states, so don’t be fooled into thinking its only something that folks in the northeast have to be concerned with.
But I really *really* don’t want you to limit or stop your healing practice of connecting to Mother Earth outside daily. This healing practice is, to me, as crucial as eating or hydrating or breathing to staying healthy over a lifetime. The earth has food, air, water, and electrical support all waiting to restore you back to full health.
So instead of staying indoors, let’s dive into all of the things you can do proactively each time you go outside to prevent lyme disease.
Preventing a tick bite is the single most important thing you can do to avoid Lyme disease.
This is the area where you can really empower yourself to be completely aware and diligent so that you never ever need to fear being outside or let fear of ticks keep you from enjoying Mother Nature.
8 Ways To Prevent A Tick Bite:
The easiest thing you can do is to keep your yard and outdoor living space trimmed, mowed low (don’t let grass grow long, ticks love long grass) and remove piles of leaves and other debris — this will automatically reduce your chances of having ticks in your yard.
Add a few free roaming chickens to your yard space and you will have a tick monitoring and disposal system that is practically self running!
Chickens eat ticks and constantly scavenge for ticks and other pests that are harmful to humans… and you get to enjoy some delicious organic free range eggs to boost!
Add a fence:
Likewise, it’s important to ensure pets don’t bring ticks into your yard and home (which are one of the most common ways that humans get tick bites!) The best thing to do is ensure pets that live in the home with you do not roam in wooded areas.
Installing a fence or keeping pets confined only to yard areas that are mowed short is one of the single most important things you can do to decrease human exposure to Lyme.
Daily brushing and inspecting the pet for ticks after time spent outside, !(before bringing your pets in to the home!) will help prevent ticks from catching a ride into your living space.
Keeping pets out of bedrooms and off of furniture during tick season (late spring, all summer & early fall) will decrease the chance that you or your family members will get a tick bite after a tick has dropped off a pet.
Talk to your veterinarian for more strategies on keeping ticks off of your family pet.
Use Cedar Oil as a natural tick deterrent:
Topically it’s so easy to holistically and naturally repel ticks — no toxic chemical required.
Simply spray exposed skin with cedar oil… cedar oil is safe, all natural and no nasty DEET or other toxic chemicals that cause neuronal cell death. Repels ticks as well as flying insects.
I use this so often that my daughter tells me that this cedar oil spray is — and I quote her here: “the smell of my childhood.” She says that every time I spray it and she catches the scent. I just love that!
Spray directly on skin, pets, around doorways and porches and windows — safe to use directly on the skin.
I even carry a little 1 oz. bottle of it in my purse and car as part of my travel Lyme prevention kit, to use while outside on hikes, at sporting events, parks, road trips, picnics, etc…
Even with doing the first 5 tips, you still need to physically double check your body for ticks every time you are outside.
Throughout the day and prior to bathing, double check your body, groin, armpits, scalp, hair and clothing for ticks.
Going directly into a shower after spending time outside is the best way to make sure ticks don’t drop off into your home or stay attached to you long enough to transmit Lyme.
If you can detect a tick before it anchors on, you’ve just prevented transmission entirely. It’s worth it. I recommend you strip off clothing and place directly into the wash after working outside, then hop in a shower to wash up.
Tuck in, Pony up:
Wear long sleeves and pants whenever possible to help keep ticks from reaching your skin… tucking in your shirt at the waist and if possible tucking pants legs into your socks.
Put long hair into a ponytail, bun, or even better — tucking it all up under a hat is a very easy way to cut your risk of tick bites dramatically because ticks love to grab onto long hair when walking through long grasses and wooded areas.
Use Your Dryer:
Simply running your clothes, bedding, towels, garden gloves, hiking boots, etc… through your dryer will kill any ticks you don’t see. All it takes is one hour tumbling on high heat (or 90 min on low heat) and even fabrics or shoes that you can’t wash or get wet can still have all the ticks removed and killed just by a spin through your dryer.
And if you are on a vacation, especially vacations with hiking or lots of time spent outdoors or to wooded areas, try to stay in hotels or cabins with dryers — simply strip down and run your clothing and shoes through the dryer every time you return from exploring outside and you slash your risk of Lyme disease greatly.
Let your clothes take a tumble while you do a tick check and grab a shower and you have gone a long way to preventing Lyme disease entirely!
If prevention fails and you do have a tick bite from an infected tick, getting treated for Lyme disease immediately is the best thing you can do to prevent long term sequelae from becoming an issue.
So what do you do if you are bitten by a tick? It’s okay!
Just follow these 3 Steps
to decrease your chance of contracting Lyme:
Remove the tick
Simply gently and firmly remove the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible (not squeezing the body of the tick, which may help enable the bacteria to squirt into your bloodstream!) and most importantly: save the tick!
2. Test the tick so you know if it carried Lyme or not — this can give you instant peace of mind!
It is infinitely easier to get a tick tested than wait and see if you become infected with Lyme. First of all, human Lyme tests can be inaccurate and delay prompt treatment.
Second, the myriad of symptoms for Lyme disease (as we will discuss next) is a great mimicker for hundreds of other illnesses and there is no one reliable way to diagnose Lyme through symptoms.
And lastly, Lyme treatments become much less effective as time goes on.
So submitting a tick for testing (just place it in a plastic ziplock bag with a moist paper towel) by giving it to your local physician is the best way to know if you need Lyme prevention treatment or not.
Or you can simply head over to tick report.com to have a tick directly tested.
This is a service that allows you to send a tick in directly to a lab and have results emailed back to you within three days — awesome for getting quick answers without any delay for treatment and doesn’t even need to involve a visit to your family doctor…
(…although you may prefer to go directly to your family physician, who can give you an antibiotic to have on hand to take immediately if the results do come back positive for Lyme.)
It’s important to note that less than half of folks who contract Lyme disease actually have the classic bulls eye rash reaction at the bite site.
Of course if you see a bullseye rash, report this immediately to your physician.
But other symptoms of Lyme are more insidious and actually more common… symptoms like:
fever, joint pain or swelling, muscle pain and weakness, irritability, headache, mood changes, increased susceptibility to other infections (as your immune system compromises over time) and most common: fatigue.
So testing a tick and getting immediate antibiotic treatment for Lyme is the best thing you can do to prevent chasing vague symptoms like fatigue and headache for years to come.
3. Boost Your Immune System
What can you do while you wait for tick test results?
Starting some immune boosting supplements is always a good idea after a tick bite while you are waiting for tick test results.
My favorite is Vit D, Vit C, Probiotics, and a Immune Boosting Supplement called Quick Defense by Innate Resources (available right here in my online dispensary.)
Go ahead and boost your immunity with supplements right after any suspected exposure and you will have given yourself a head start in treating Lyme before it’s even had time to express symptoms.
Now that you are armed with a ton of very effective holistic tips on avoiding tick bites and decreasing your chance of developing Lyme disease (plus a few tips to help speed recovery if you do get a tick bite!)… it’s time to wish you a very very happy upcoming summer!!!
Keep going outside and enjoy the beautiful display that Mother Earth brings us each spring without fear!