Spring is here! And so are ticks…
Having lived in the Northeast for almost 30 years, I know all too well how Lyme and Tick Borne Diseases can affect us, our families and our pocket books. Lyme has affected my family, friends, and of course numerous patients my husband and I treated and helped over the years.
Despite the cold winter we have just endured, ticks have become more resistant to die off in cold weather. Ticks are just about everywhere, so as we and our children get out more in the spring and the summer, the word must be vigilance!
Here are 5 things you can do to keep you and your family healthy and happy during the warm months to come:
1. Environment: Keep it Cut and Dry!
Ticks and nymphs can’t survive in a dry climate! Get rid of piles of leaves and closely cut the grass and use organic tick repellants around your home and garden. Not only do we want to protect our children and ourselves, but our pets and neighbors, our environment, and our water supply. Ticks are found in the shade, and in warm/humid environments. I recommend removal of shrubs and ground covers located too close to the house and I have heard some people suggest wood chips as they are dry and might provide a modicum of prevention.
2. What to Wear:
Although this is tricky, it’s worthwhile to dress in long sleeves and long pants tucked into socks when spending time in nature. The color should be white or as light as possible. That way you’re keeping a barrier between you and the ticks (and the sun!), and your light clothes help you spot ticks before they can bite!
3. What to Spray:
Essential oils are great natural repellents. One of my favorite combinations is essential cedar wood oil, and a citrus essential oil in witch hazel. Ticks, fleas and other insects are repelled by the odor of the cedar oil. I do not suggest DEET. There are many options out there today both commercially and in custom preparations.
4. Homeopathics that Help:
Ledum Palustre and Spiro Nil (Teasel Roots) are preparations that can be used preventatively I used to give it to my dog, Paris, every day in her water when we lived in a Deer/Tick Infested area in VA. In all the years we were there, she only had 2 tick bites. These remedies are great for kids, adults and pets.
5. When You Come Inside: Tick Check!
Hiking and camping certainly represent great risks, but your back and front yard also present a significant risk. Always do a tick-check on yourself and your family after coming in from playing in the grass or planting in the garden.
Nymph ticks are about the size of a poppy seed, so they are easily missed. The secret to tick checking: BUY A LINT ROLLER. Just roll over clothes and skin to catch any rogue ticks!
Just washing clothes in hot water won’t kill ticks. Remember, they like the warm, humid environment. Throw your clothes in a very hot dryer for a few minutes after coming inside.
Is there a lot to do before heading out? You bet! It is worth it? I promise you it is.
Tick Spray Recipe:
- 4oz Spray Bottle
- Witch Hazel (wild harvested or organic)
- Essential Cedarwood Oil (NOT fragrance oil)
Fill the bottle with witch hazel. Add 15 – 20 drops of the Cedarwood Oil
(Apply a small amount to skin prior to using to make sure skin irritation does not occur.)