Tick Bites: Prevention and Safe Removal


As spring and summer time method and we spend extra time outdoors, we additionally danger encountering ticks. Sadly, ticks aren’t simply biting bugs (technically, they don’t chunk -they sting). However they’re additionally infamous vectors for sicknesses like Lyme illness and Rocky Mountain noticed fever. 

Understanding how one can stop tick bites is essential for staying protected throughout out of doors adventures. Right here’s how one can avoid tick bites and benefit from the nice outdoor worry-free.

Are Tick Bites Harmful?

In a phrase, sure. A minimum of, they definitely could 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 circumstances of tick-related sickness in the US every year.

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

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 likely to cluster across the northeastern United States. Nonetheless, in keeping 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 circumstances reported by the CDC from 1990 by means of 2021.

Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine have the best incidence price of Lyme circumstances. Information from 2022 exhibits a median of about 200 circumstances per 100,000 individuals occurred in these three states. Midwestern states are additionally experiencing elevated circumstances in recent times. 

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

Lyme illness is continuous to unfold to different states, so be proactive and do what you may to cut back your possibilities of tick bites. The spring and summer time are the best danger, as ticks are busy hatching and searching for their subsequent meal. 

Find out how to Examine for Ticks

Engorged ticks are straightforward to identify, however some could 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, fastidiously 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

Relatively 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 means that you can type by area, kind, maturity levels, feeding levels, and even by the illnesses varied kinds of ticks might 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 just a few extra kids, I nonetheless don’t like coping with ticks, however I’ve realized what to do once I encounter one. For those who’re a seasoned father or mother or have pets, you’ve probably confronted this case earlier than. Nonetheless, in case you haven’t, right here’s what to do:

Examine to see if the tick is connected. For those who spot a small, flat tick crawling in your garments, pores and skin, or flooring, it’s a superb signal, because it probably hasn’t bitten anybody or fed lately. Nonetheless, in case you encounter a big tick with a swollen, spherical physique, it’s extra regarding as it might have already fed and indifferent from a pet or particular person within the house.

If unattached, don’t attempt to kill it. If the tick is unattached, resist the urge to crush, burn, or destroy it. (It’s onerous, 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 connected, right here’s what to do (and to not do): 

How NOT to Take away a Tick

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

I don’t care a couple of tick’s emotions, but when the tick is irritated, it will probably 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 right tick removing code has been to make use of a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and pull it straight out. Whereas this could work, it will probably additionally depart the tick’s head or mouth-parts embedded within the pores and skin. 

(Sidenote: I can’t inform you the variety of occasions I’ve felt an invisible tick crawling on me whereas penning this put up!)

What to Do As an alternative: Protected Tick Elimination 

As an alternative, use a tick-removal gadget 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 maintain one on my keychain throughout tick season.

In contrast to the tweezer technique, this gadget is more likely to end in 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.

For those who don’t have a tick removing instrument, use tweezers, however remember to 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. Strategy the tick from the aspect with a tick gadget or tweezers.
  3. Slide the notched tick removing gadget 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.  Be sure that 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 could be useful.
  7.  Wash the chunk space with cleaning soap and water and apply an antimicrobial, like rubbing alcohol, to the world. 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 ceaselessly inaccurate. The ELISA check sometimes run by healthcare suppliers in native clinics typically comes again adverse when different exams present an an infection. In reality, it might miss over half of all Lyme circumstances. A Western Blot check could also be extra correct, however solely when interpreted by completely different requirements than the CDC’s. 

Some of the trusted laboratories for Lyme illness testing is Igenex.. Along with Lyme, additionally they display for different tick-borne sicknesses. One instance is ehrlichiosis, which targets white blood cells. One other is babesiosis, which impacts crimson blood cells. Additionally 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 presents complete Lyme panels. They will detect completely different borrelia species in addition to co-infections widespread with Lyme illness. These firms permit sufferers to request a house check or ship the tick (lifeless or alive) to have it examined for infections. 

Likelihood is probably that every one shall be effectively 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 chunk website (known as erythema migrans)

The bullseye rash doesn’t all the time happen, so it’s vital to test for different signs. Youngsters will typically develop tick paralysis, which causes short-term numbness and tingling. For an entire 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.

For those who suspect tick-related sickness, seek the advice of with a health care provider straight away, as early intervention might assist. Dr. Davidson recommends taking Ledum palustre, a homeopathic treatment, as a pure first support. Another choice is to use andrographis tincture on the recent chunk to assist stop 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 danger of tick- and different insect bites. The choices for battling ticks aren’t excellent (particularly in case you choose to keep away from chemical compounds, as I do), and I can solely hope now we have extra choices for controlling the Lyme outbreak on the horizon. 

Till then, listed below are among the steps we are able to take at the moment to let our children go adventuring with out fear:

1. Tick-Proof Your Yard

It’s in all probability no shock that I don’t advocate skilled chemical sprays for the yard, even to cut back ticks. Whereas many firms tout this as “protected,” if it kills ticks, it in all probability isn’t good on your pets or youngsters, not to mention the atmosphere and different innocent bugs in your yard.

There are fairly just a few logical (and pure) steps to discourage ticks:

  • Preserve the grass brief. Ticks are generally present in lawns, significantly in areas with tall grass, dense vegetation, and leaf litter. Preserve your garden well-maintained by mowing recurrently 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 growing 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 can be pure tick predators. You should buy 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 helpful bugs like ladybugs. However they could be a large assist in controlling tick populations.
  • Take into account Tick Tubes: Tick tubes are cardboard cylinders full of handled cotton that mice deliver again to their nests. The handled cotton kills ticks on the mice, decreasing the probability of ticks attaching to people.
  • Get yard chickens! Moreover offering recent eggs, they eat ticks! Chickens are pure foragers and can peck at bugs they encounter, together with ticks. They might 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 protected choice at decrease concentrations, it’s not advisable for pregnant girls or kids beneath six months. Many research additionally level to potential uncomfortable side 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 significantly, I favor utilizing pure bug repellents, particularly since research present important oils like citronella could 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’t see in a tick test. In spite of everything, 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 might assist from the within out. Astragalus is an herb from Conventional Chinese language Medication which 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 chase away ticks.

3. Examine for Ticks Each day

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

I do know it’s not straightforward 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 tooth step. This website has a free exercise e-book for instructing younger kids how one can test for ticks.

4. Follow Good Mountain climbing Hygiene

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

However I refuse to let ticks spoil our love for mountaineering, tenting, and simply being outdoor in the summertime. Be good when mountaineering and observe the following tips for avoiding ticks:

  • Put on protecting clothes: Put on long-sleeved shirts when mountaineering in a high-tick space and tuck pants into socks. This observe might help stop ticks from crawling onto uncovered pores and skin. Mild-colored clothes additionally helps make ticks extra seen.
  • Select excessive boots slightly than athletic sneakers: Once more, you’ll wish to keep away from simply accessible pores and skin. 
  • Put on a wide-brimmed hat: Vast-brimmed hats can maintain 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 compounds, 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 value 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 test: Examine 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 mountaineering garments and put them instantly within the dryer for 10 minutes on excessive warmth to kill ticks.
  • End up with a superb soak: Bathe or bathe as quickly as potential after mountaineering. Be certain to take action inside 2 hours of coming inside.

It would appear to be a wierd household exercise, however we maintain robes within the mudroom! That approach, we are able to strip off after mountaineering, throw every little thing within the dryer, and head proper for the showers.

5. Defend Pets

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

Last Ideas

Whereas these strategies might help scale back your danger of tick bites, it’s nonetheless vital to do common tick checks, particularly throughout peak tick season (Could by means of August). For those who discover a tick connected to your pores and skin, take away it straight away –the best approach– to cut back your danger of tick-borne illnesses. For those who do develop signs, like rash, fever, or muscle aches, search medical consideration instantly.

Have you ever ever had a tick chunk? What did you do? Do you’ve gotten different concepts to stop them?