We protect our pets from ticks, but during these warm summer days when we’re spending more time outdoors, the last thing most of us think about is protecting ourselves. This tiny insect’s bite is worse than its bark, however. The potential health risks that come with a tick bite can be scary, but they can also be prevented. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself safe!
Ticks live in grassy, bushy areas. Their three-year life cycle includes four stages – egg, larva, nymph, and adult. To progress to the next stage in the life cycle, ticks need a host to draw blood from. They start with small animals, such as mice and birds, and progress to larger hosts, such as humans and dogs.
Ticks can’t fly or jump. Rather, they hold onto grass or leaves and wait for a host to brush past, then climb onto them. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours for the tick to attach itself to the skin, depending on the species of tick; some search for areas where the skin is thinner. Once the tick is done feeding, it typically drops off from the host.
Some ticks are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterium that causes Lyme disease. This can be transmitted to humans through a tick’s saliva.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash – a red ring with clear skin at the center, or a bull’s eye pattern.
Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to arthritis, neurological problems such as facial paralysis, and heart problems.
The good news is that most cases of Lyme disease are successfully treated, even if treatment doesn’t begin until later stages of the illness. Prevention is still your best option, however. Be sure to use insect repellent, and wear long pants and long sleeves when walking in grassy or wooded areas. When you come back indoors, check your body for ticks. Bathing may be enough to remove a tick if it hasn’t attached yet.
If you do find an attached tick, carefully remove it with fine-tipped tweezers. Grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull gently so that the tick remains intact; twisting or forcefully tugging on the tick can cause it to tear, possibly leaving pieces of the tick under the skin. After disposing of the tick, cleanse the area with antiseptic. If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, call your doctor to begin treatment with antibiotics right away.
All of the below essential oils work great on doggies as well as people for natural repellent of fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Just mix ten drops of any of the below with about 32 oz of distilled water. I use it in oil for my skin to keep the pests off.
The next time you’re applying flea and tick repellent to your pet, remember that it’s important for you to play it safe too! Using insect repellent spray and performing tick checks are simple ways to protect yourself from tick bites and Lyme disease. It will be worth the effort!
For more information about tick removal, visit the CDC’s Lyme disease home page.