Tick Season: Help Naturally Prevent Tick Bites
- Tick Paralysis. (Yes, this is real. Yes, it is terrifying.)
- Colorado Tick Fever
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Ticks are eight-legged, blood-sucking bugs. They attach to the skin and bury their head to reach the blood. As they take in more blood, ticks grow. At their largest, ticks can be about the size of a marble. After a tick has been feeding on its host for several days, it can become engorged and can turn a greenish blue color. Ticks have a way of finding warm, moist places on the body to attach. They love hairlines (or the top of the head), armpits, groin areas, elbows, behind the knees, sock lines, etc. e all may be aware of our own bodies, but tick checks are still needed after coming in from outside. It is too often that we forget to check our children. Even our tiniest loved ones are at risk for tick bites. You can be walking around with your baby in a carrier on your back, but that is not prevention enough. Actually, there is no 100% full-proof tick prevention. So please – PLEASE – do full-body tick checks each day. The sooner a tick is found, the faster a child can be treated.
Bug and Tick Spray
According to Renegade Health, the problem with DEET is: “The standard recommendation for avoiding ticks is to use DEET-based repellants, but that can be dangerous to your health. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a study in the late 1980s on 143 National Park Service employees found that 25 percent reported health effects after applying DEET, including rashes, skin or mucous membrane irritation, numb or burning lips, dizziness, diorientation, and difficulty concentrating. Headache and nausea were also reported. A more recent 2009 animal study conducted by the Institute of Development Research in France found that DEET can interfere with the activity of enzymes vital to the nervous system. In fact, the researchers noted that the chemical works in the same way as paralyzing nerve gases used in warfare.”
Natural AlternativesHomemade Tick Repellent Recipe:
- 2 C white vinegar.
- 1 C water.
- 10 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, OR citrus essential oil. All of these serve as a tick repellent. (I like orange, personally.)
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil (another tick repellent- plus it’s antibacterial).
- Use a non-toxic, plastic-free insect-repelling band, which is easier to use on children and very effective.
- Add vanilla extract to either of the above recipes, or just rub on the skin. You can also mix vanilla with witch hazel and water for a spray version.
- Plant insect repelling herbs in your yard. I grow lavender, thyme, mint and citronella near our patio and we use these fresh plants as bug repellent in a pinch.
- Rub lavender flowers or lavender oil on your skin, especially on hot parts of body (neck, underarms, behind ears, etc.) to repel insects.
- Rub fresh or dried leaves of anything in the mint family all over skin to repel insects (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, etc. or citronella, lemongrass, etc.) Basil is also said to repel mosquitoes.
RemindersGeneral guidelines from Health Renegade for protecting yourself and your family from tick bites. These include:
Habitat: Be aware that ticks live in wooded, grassy, and brushy areas. They like moist, humid environments. Avoid these types of areas, or be sure that you protect yourself when you go into them.
Direction: Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with ticks.
Clothes: Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants, and tuck your pants into your socks. When you return to the house, immediately wash clothing and put into a dryer set on high heat.
Hair: Cover, braid, or tie up long hair, and consider wearing a hat.
- Body: Shower immediately after being out in tick-friendly areas, and check your body for ticks. Remember to look in hidden areas like under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, on the back of the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs and around the waist.
If you do find a tick attached to you, remove it using a pair of tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible, and pull upward with a steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the area with soap and warm water. If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks, see your doctor and tell him about the bite. Place the tick in a plastic bag, freeze, and save to have tested if signs infection begin.
Learn more about Lyme Disease: Kids ages 5-14 are at the highest risk for contracting Lyme Disease. (Playgrounds are a favorite habitat for ticks.)