By Lindsey, Contributing Writer
Every spring, I’m so excited to shed the shackles of winter and embrace the sweet smell of spring. I fervently take to hiking and foraging for my spring favorites, forgetting the cautiousness I usually take. It only takes one or two trips before I’m reminded of that tiny outdoor foe, the tick.
It’s been years since we’ve been bitten (we always catch them crawling on our clothes) but every year I swear the next I’ll be ready. Well, the time has come. I am building my tick kit, and I want to share with you the whys and hows so you can be ready too.
Ticks: What Are They and What You Need To Know
Ticks are small invertebrates that feed on blood. They often carry diseases, the most well-known being Lymes disease. When they bite, they exchange fluid in as well as sucking out the blood, and that is how they spread the diseases. A few others are rocky mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, Colorado tick fever, and alpha-gal syndrome to name a few.
Like many other invertebrates, they have different sizes based on type and what stage they are in development. For example, at the beginning of its life cycle, a deer tick is the size of the tip of a pencil.
You’ve Been Bitten, Now What?
So you found a tick on you or someone you love. Now what? Instead of scrambling and panicking, here is a comprehensive list of what to do and what you need to do it.
When you remove a tick, you want to be sure to remove the whole thing. This can be a little tricky if the head is really buried. Some people can safely remove ticks with their fingers, others are more comfortable with a device to help remove the whole tick. Here are a few recommended devices:
Small Jar/Plastic Bag/Tape
While I don’t usually advocate for plastic bags, this is one I’ll look the other way on. If you like, you can send the tick out for testing to see what diseases it has. We had a tick bite during hunting season and opted to send it out for testing. If you decide you want to send your tick out for testing, here are a few recommendations:
Here is an example of what the results might look like:
Once you’ve removed the tick, you can apply drawing salve to the bite. Drawing salve is made up of herbs and minerals that help pull toxins out of the body through the skin. It has gotten a bad rep, mainly because of the herb bloodroot. There are plenty of drawing salves that have safe ingredients. We use Earthley’s Black Drawing Salve, it’s made with activated charcoal and bentonite clay, both of which have drawing properties.
Treating the Host
Once you’ve been bitten, you can choose to treat yourself like the tick is diseased, wait to get test results back before treating, or wait for symptoms to appear.
Standard treatment for a tick bite is a long course of doxycycline, a heavy hitting antibiotic. It is usually recommended to take a course of antibiotics for two to four weeks.
There are two remedies that are consistently recommended if you’ve been bitten by a tick. The first is Ledum Palustre. This is a homeopathic remedy that is known for its inflammatory properties and is also an antioxidant. You can take this when bitten to help get ahead of any potential infection. For dosing, read here.
The second is the Buhner Protocol. Steven Buhner has several books and has developed a protocol of natural remedies to take if infected with a tick borne disease. It is discussed more in depth there.
Other things you can do to support the body include:
- Immune system support with elderberry: You can make elderberry syrup, or if you’re not into DIY you can use Earthley’s elderberry tincture.
- Increase vitamin C intake: A super antioxidant, vitamin C is in a ton of foods like peppers, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, and broccoli.
I can now hike a little more relaxed now that I have my kit assembled. Having a plan and the tools in case of a tick bite are all you need to embrace being outdoors.