Summer in New England is such a wonderful time to do all sorts of outdoor activities. But the threat of ticks and the illnesses they can carry prevents some people from enjoying themselves. That threat is real and we should definitely take protective measures.
Sometimes, though, it’s confusing to figure out exactly what we can do to protect ourselves and our kids and our pets. In this guest post, Paula Jackson Jones tries to set us straight on steps we can take. Paula has become an expert on the subject. Unfortunately, she had her own encounter with a tick and not only developed Lyme disease but several other tick-borne illnesses. It took 18 months to get a diagnosis and three years of treatment before she went into remission.
In 2014, Paula co-founded Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education (MLDSE) with Angele Rice. Angele was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and two other tick-borne illnesses 17 years after she was bitten by a tick as a child. She has had ongoing treatment for the past nine years. You can read Paula and Angele’s stories on the MLDSE website.
When their paths crossed, they realized that through their own arduous journies, they had both accumulated a wealth of knowledge. They decided to create their organization to “raise awareness, foster education, advocate for change and provide support for those affected by Lyme Disease and other tick-borne associated diseases.”
In addition to the information and resources on their website, they also host an annual Lyme Disease conference that brings in experts from around the country. Paula also has a newspaper column and writes a blog called Lyme Time. This guest post pulls information from her blog.
What about repellents?
Skin, clothing, pets, home, and yard are all important areas to focus on as these are areas ticks come into contact with us. What you choose to put on your skin is a personal preference. Whether it’s Deet, Picaridin, essential oils or other natural repellent balms and salves, there is no wrong answer. But some products are safer than others (for children and pets) so carefully consider before purchasing.
Wearing white clothing and tucking your shirt into pants, pants into socks does not repel ticks, it only makes them easier to find. You want to repel and you have options!
Permethrin, a product derived from the chrysanthemum plant that kills ticks on contact, is FDA approved in over 1400 products and used by the military on their uniforms and gear. You can purchase this at the local hardware store and do it yourself or, for those with health or environmental concerns, you can purchase clothing already infused with a heavy concentration such as tops, pants, vests, socks, hats, gloves and blankets. You can also send your clothing to have it infused with a heavier concentrated application (email me for more information).
Visitors, did you know that you can connect with a local vet and have your pet protected while you’re here on vacation? Local vets can connect with your vet back home and get an instant health history and be able to prescribe the best product based on the age, breed and overall health condition of your pet.
Cleaning cabins and cottages with products containing Lemongrass and Eucalyptus creates a safe and natural deterrent for ticks. There are also safe and natural products to use on the outside such as Diatomaceous Earth to repel ticks. For higher infested areas, consider contacting a service provider who uses organic repellent sprays. Remember, we want our visitors to enjoy their stay tick-free!
DO YOUR TICK CHECKS!
Always check for ticks when you come in from spending time outdoors.
- Look over your body top to bottom for nymph and adult ticks that you may have unknowingly brought inside with you.
- Ticks crawl from the ground up looking for the perfect place to feed upon and they thrive in moist, dark areas.
- The best way to do a tick check is to remove your clothing, toss in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes and then check the following areas:
- Under the arms, in/around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in your hair, between the legs/groin area and around your waistline.
- Nymph ticks are no larger than a poppy seed and are often missed. Use a mirror for hard to see places.
- You can also shower using products containing rosemary, eucalyptus and tea tree oil that repels and washes out any ticks you may have missed while checking your hair (Remember: tea tree oil is not safe for pets).
What to do if you find a tick
If you have a tick encounter, save the tick and have it tested so that you will know for certain if/what you have been exposed to.
By using prevention practices and doing daily tick checks, you are taking charge and reducing your chances of being exposed to a tick ~ and can enjoy outdoor life in Maine as it should it be!
If you’d like more information about ticks, Lyme Disease, and other tick-borne infections, be sure to check out Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education.