Tick Season: Help Naturally Prevent Tick Bites

We are all at risk for tick bites. It seems that no where is safe anymore. You don’t need to live in a wooded area, surrounded by deer, and spend 10 hours a day outside… No, instead, you can find a tick in your home in the middle of the city nowadays. With Lyme Disease being the fastest growing epidemic in the history of our society, ticks are tiny creatures to be feared. Not only can a tick transmit Lyme disease, but there are several other life-altering conditions that can come from a tick that takes hold. Some of these include:
  • Tick Paralysis. (Yes, this is real. Yes, it is terrifying.)
  • Colorado Tick Fever
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Tularemia
  • Ehrlichiosis
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. We 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.” Children Friendship Togetherness Smiling Happiness Concept

Natural Alternatives

Homemade 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).
Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle and apply to clothing and skin before going outside- particularly to the socks and pants. It’s a little stinky, but no worse than bug spray- and it doesn’t have the same toxicity concerns. Another homemade recipe can be found at CampWanderer.com And another recipe, HERE at Wellness Mama, where she also lists the following as prevention methods:
  • 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.
Badger and Babyganics brands now make a bug spray that can be used on children (deet-free).

Reminders

General 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.)
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