Lyme Prevention Basics

Lyme Prevention Basics

The first step in preventing Lyme disease is something many of us learn as we begin to explore the great outdoors–avoid tick bites.

When out in grassy areas, leaves, or woods, wear long sleeved and light colored clothing, and pull your socks over your pants.

But Did you know that you don’t have to go into the woods to get ticks?

Most ticks are found within the inner three yards of your tree line.  Stone walls make perfect mice hotels, trees provide shade, and leaves provide warmth for mice and other rodents, who serve as hosts for ticks. A staggering eighty-six percent of ticks are found within this perimeter of your lawn, but leaf removal, cleaning out stone walls, and increasing sunlight past the perimeter of the lawn will decrease ticks on your property by ninety percent.

Take additional precautions by setting up your children’s swing set or play area away from the tree line in order to reduce their exposure to the area of highest tick concentration.

Natural Yard Sprays To Protect Your Home

You can also utilize natural sprays that are safe for honeybees and amphibians, as well as humans and pets, which can keep ticks at bay. 

Spraying for ticks should be done in the early spring, summer, and late fall, and should be applied to the entire lawn, well past the perimeter and into the woods. Consider recycling paper towel tubes into tick tubes that help to eliminate ticks from rodents like the white footed mouse which is the main spreader of tiny nymph ticks. 

Natural Tick Repellants To Protect Your Family

There are many natural tick sprays that do not use DEET but contain essential oil of chrysanthemum or cedar, which is effective in repelling ticks and other insects.

Insect Shield is a company that treats special clothing/gear for outside activities (hunting, fishing, rock climbing, hiking) with tick repellant and lasts seventy washes. Regardless of precautions taken, it is important to perform tick checks on yourselves, children, and pets after being outside. Pay special attention to the hair line, arm pits, belly button, back of knees, and groin.

Recognizing the types of ticks that carry Lyme disease and co-infections is also crucial.

Most people are aware that a deer tick ranges in size from a sesame seed to that of a poppy seed, while a dog tick is much larger. 

What most people do not know is that a fully engorged deer tick is the same size of a fully engorged dog tick!

Nymph ticks are harder to spot, as they are much smaller than an adult deer tick, are a translucent/pale color, and are as small as the period at the end of this sentence. It is very common to not realize that you have been bitten by a tick, and to never find the tick that transmitted Lyme disease to you. These ticks are usually hidden well enough to become fully engorged and drop off without your awareness, which is how most people contract Lyme and other co-infections.

"...less than half of people diagnosed with Lyme have a history of a known tick bite or bullseye rash."

Remember, you do not need to have found a tick on your body or to have developed Erythema migrans to be diagnosed with Lyme disease. In fact, less than half of people diagnosed with Lyme have a history of a known tick bite or bullseye rash. If you do develop any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor about proper testing, or find a Lyme literate practitioner who knows how to diagnose and treat appropriately.

"It is important to know that the lifestyle and nutritional imbalances we experience as a society create chronic, systemic, low-grade inflammation that make it harder for us to overcome infection as well (Ruiz-Nunez, 2013). As a naturopathic physician, I believe that this is where we as individuals can make the greatest difference in the fight against Lyme and tick-borne disease."
-Dr. Myriah Hinchey
When we think about why Lyme disease so easily takes over the human body, we see that inflammation plays a huge role.

If the body is constantly “putting out fires” from everyday exposure to events or substances that cause inflammation (such as stress, sugar, environmental allergens, food sensitivities, chemicals, nutrient deficiencies, vitamin D3 deficiency, etc.), it has a much harder time when a real threat enters the body.

We have to focus on creating a foundation for health, which is simple but sometimes hard to implement in modern life. Rather than subscribing to a particular diet or detox to achieve this goal, I instead recommend returning to the basics. Eat food in its original unprocessed form. Limit sugar and alcohol intake. Drink fresh, filtered water as often as possible. Move your body. Create a healthy sleep schedule and take time during your day for short mental health breaks. Prioritize stress-relieving activities that bring you joy and peace. If it is too overwhelming to implement all these at once, work on one aspect of health at a time, and build upon that. It’s never too late to start improving your body’s resilience.

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