There is a lot of talk about ticks and the dangers of Lyme disease as we are amid what is being called “the worst year” in terms of the number of ticks out there. In the last few weeks I have stumbled upon several posts going viral that are actually pretty dangerous to follow if you do have a tick.
As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” Ideally you want to prevent ticks from being on your body.
- Wear shoes and socks (I even tuck my kids pants into their socks for extra measure)
- Keep your grass trimmed and when possible avoid long grass and wooded areas.
- Always check yourself and your children after being outside.
Insect repellants are an issue here.
I see a lot of homemade recipes that are fabulous for mosquitoes but are going to be less than effective for ticks. Keep in mind-a tick is technically not an insect (It has 8 legs). According to most research DEET and Permethrin are the only effective ingredients. Unfortunately both are toxic to humans so you need to balance it with your needs and environment. (I may consider treating my clothes if I were hiking in the woods or camping. For my children playing outside everyday on their swing set I am choosing to rely more on prevention and checking them afterwards)
This year I have carefully researched essential oils for repelling ticks. None are recommended by the CDC (so keep that in mind). Various MLM companies list many and I generally take that with a grain of salt. Repeatedly, I found info and testimonials about rose geranium (NOTE: This is not a mix of geranium and rose in a bottle it is the actual rose geranium oil). I have chosen to use that as part of our prevention this year. (Warning: It STINKS! If I were a tick I would stay away from us!) So far no ticks-but you should know we don’t frequent the woods, however do live with woods in our back yard and along the kids school playground.
Prevention aside, what happens if you do get a tick? A few weeks back I saw a video going viral with a drop of peppermint oil being applied to the tick and it backing out of the person’s arm. It was being shared and people were discussing how they would all be carrying peppermint oil. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS! While peppermint oil is wonderful (I spray my mailbox to keep the spiders out J), you do not want a tick to back out. Smothering ticks in Vaseline, oil, or a dose of peppermint oil, nail polish or even burning them can cause them to regurgitate up their bacteria right into your skin.
A second item I have seen making the viral scene on Facebook is twister devices. Remember, twisting the tick can cause its head to break off. You want to pull straight out.
To remove a tick safely you want to grasp the tick close to your skin with tweezers. Slowly and firmly pull the tick away from the skin without twisting. You should then wash and disinfect your skin as well as your tweezers.
Lyme disease is serious. I am all for keeping the toxins away but use your research and environment to carefully weigh your options in different situations.