Ticks are those nasty little critters that like to burrow into/under your skin, and sometimes can cause some serious health issues – think Lyme Disease!
Unfortunately, we in the northern hemisphere have way too many of them and there’s little we can do except be alert and prepared in case we do get one or more.
These little beasties have toxins in their bodies that can cause a serious condition – Lyme Disease – but only if not caught in time. If they do “get under your skin” you need to be very careful about how you remove it. How to remove a tick – Use a fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist the tick or rock it from side to side. If part of the tick stays in the skin, don’t worry, it will eventually come out on its own. Place the tick into a jar or zip-lock bag. Then after removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Call or go see your doctor right away if possible – they might want to see the tick.
It is also very important to not discard or throw away the tick once removed, as it should be tested to properly identify what type of tick it is and if it is infected, thereby infecting you. If you have it tested, normally they will start treatments to help prevent the possibility of you contracting Lyme Disease.
If you or your family member has a red-ringed rash or skin that is red and irritated, have flu-like symptoms, have joint pain or swollen joint(s), or facial paralysis, it’s important to see your doctor right away to determine if it is Lyme disease or not.
If you have a dog that has ticks, it’s just as important to get rid of them as quickly as well, using the same procedure mentioned above. Try to do this within 24-36 hours of the bite especially if your dog has been out in an area where they can pick up ticks (and should be checked every day). If they come in and start scratching or biting them-self in a specific spot, check them immediately and thoroughly. They like to hang out in the groin, between toes, around the ears, around the anal area, their eyelids and tail. If you’re concerned your dog may have contracted tick disease, save the tick in alcohol for testing.
As ticks are a serious issue, it’s wise to use a tick repellent when you know you are going to be exposed to them. DEET is not a safe chemical but you can use a few essential oils as natural repellents, such as a blend of 20 drops Rose Geranium Essential Oil, 10 drops Sweetgrass Essential Oil, 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil, 5 drops Citronella or Lemon Essential Oil along with 4 oz of rubbing alcohol (or witch hazel, vodka, apple cider vinegar or distilled water). Place in a glass spray bottle, shake well and spray on your clothes before going outside.
If you live in a tick area, you can help prevent contact by wearing panty hose under pants, don’t walk in high grassy areas, keep your grass cut, don’t sit on logs, wear hats when walking in the woods and if you have long hair make tight braids, a pony tail or a bun, wear clothing, with elastic on the wrist and ankles, that covers the skin along with boots or shoes that are tightened at the ankles, tuck pants into your socks, walk in the center of trails, shower within two hours of coming indoors, and inspect your clothes and body – under arms, around ears, inside belly button, back of knees and in your hair.
If you live in an area that is known for ticks and you are handy in the garden, you could plant lavender, sweetgrass, lemongrass, rosemary, citronella, wormwood, eucalyptus that all act as a natural defense against blood sucking ticks.
One thing that you should NOT do is to crush a tick with your fingers. Another is to avoid using nail polish or vaseline (petroleum jelly), or heating the tick as it might force it farther into the skin.
As I mentioned above, these little beasties are nasty and need to be dealt with as soon as possible after you have been in contact with them. Please be safe outside this spring, summer and fall – also in winter if you live in a warm climate.
I won’t assume that the southern hemisphere doesn’t have the same issue, so it’s always wise to keep an eye open for these types of creatures that can have devastating affects for us all.
Have a marvelous day and week ahead.