It’s Tick Season! Tips for Preventing and Responding to Tick Bites
With warmer weather comes… tick season! Knowing how to prevent tick bites and respond to one if it happens is key to enjoying spring weather without fear. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” as the old saying goes, so let’s go over some quick ways to avoid tick bites, and then how to respond if prevention measures fail.
Following these suggestions may prevent tick bites:
- Wear long pants and tuck them into socks when outdoors
- Wear light colored clothing to be able to spot ticks easily and quickly
- Wear tick repellant spray or pre-treat clothes and gear with permethrin
- Apply essential oils including geranium, grapefruit, yellow cypress, Texas cedarwood, and lemongrass to exposed skin before going outdoors (add some citronella and mosquitoes will avoid you too!)
- Avoid tall grass and brush when possible
- Perform head-to-toe tick checks when you come in from outdoors, paying special attention to any areas with skins folds (behind ears, armpits, groin, etc)
- Designate an area of the house to take clothes off when coming in from outside to avoid ticks falling off in other places in the house
- Put clothes just worn outside in the dryer on high heat for 6-10 minutes
Tick control Strategies:
- Landscaping: rake leaves, clear brush and debris from grass & gardens, keep grass short, trim shrubs & low branches, create paths in the yard made of wood chips or stone, keep bird feeders at perimeter of property, remove any Japanese barberry shrubs (which create a prime tick habitat), plant deer-resistant plants in the yard (Bee balm, Brunnera, Catmint, Golden Marguerite, Jack in the pulpit, Japanese painted fern, Lily of the valley, Lungwort, Meadow rue, Sea holly, Sweet woodruff, Turtlehead, Virginia bluebells, Wild ginger).
- Tick tubes: can purchase from farm stores and online (Damminix Tick Tubes® – www.ticktubes.com; Thermacell Tick Control Tubes – www.thermacell.com/products/tick-control-tubes). Mice take the permethrin-treated cotton from the tick tubes back to their nest, where it kills the tick larvae infesting the nest without harming the mice.
- Pet management: conduct tick checks after time outdoors, limit pets’ presence in sleeping and living areas of the house as much as possible, consider tick repellent collar (Seresto, K9 Advantix II, Vectra 3D) or essential oil spray (Cedarcide Tickshield – www.cedarcide.com).
So you took all the prevention steps and still got a tick bite… now what?
- Remove the tick immediately, being careful not to squeeze the tick body
- Clean the bite site
- Send the tick in for testing so you know if/what that tick was carrying
- If available, you may choose to start taking Ledum 30c immediately, 5 pellets 3x a day for 4 days
- Call our office to schedule an Acute Tick Bite visit, a 20-30 minute telehealth visit with one of our doctors to customize a tick bite response plan for your unique needs and health history
- Addressing a tick bite sooner rather than later is always the best course of action
Don’t let fear of ticks stop you from enjoying the beautiful New England spring!