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How to Avoid and Remove Ticks

As the weather warms up, you will no doubt want to head out and enjoy some time outdoors. Depending on the activities you partake in, you may be at increased risk of contracting a tick- borne illness. Most tick bites do not transmit harmful microbes, however there are a variety of tick-borne illnesses, Lyme Disease being the most common in Canada. A wide range of symptoms are associated with Lyme Disease which can make it hard to properly diagnose and treat. With proper preparation and treatment, you can drastically reduce your risk of contracting a tick-borne illness.

Repellent for Humans
A simple homemade repellent can be made with products you already have around the house. Mix 2 cups of distilled white vinegar with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Citrus and peppermint oil also work well as tick repellents and do a wonderful job of dulling the scent of vinegar. Add 10 - 20 drops to your spray bottle. Shake for 20 seconds to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Once the solution has been properly mixed, apply to your clothes, hair, and skin before going outdoors. In order to ensure the best results, reapply solution every 4 hours. Upon returning home, examine your hair and skin to make sure there aren’t any ticks on your body.

Repellent for Pets
In a spray bottle, mix 1 cup of water with 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. Add 2 spoons of almond or vegetable oil to your solutions. If you would like to make a repellant that also repels fleas, mix one spoon of citrus oil, lemon juice, or peppermint oil. These ingredients not only work well as a repellent, but also smell great. Spray the repellant solution onto your pets dry coat, be sure to keep the repellant away from sensitive areas such as their nose, eyes, genitals, and mouth. If your dog will be outside for extended periods of time, reapply the solution 2 - 3 times a day. If your dog will only be outside for a short amount of time, you only need to spray the solution once.

As always, upon returning home, you should always examine your skin and hair for ticks. If you find any you will, of course, want to remove them. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible with a pair of tweezers. Use tweezers with fine tips, rather than blunt ones, to make sure you are able to grasp the tick tightly. Don't try to remove with your fingers. You won't be able to get a good, tight grip on the tick. Make sure you're gripping the tick's head. Get the tweezers as close to the mouth of the tick as possible. Do not grasp the tick's body. This will cause it to inject saliva or blood into your skin and increase the chances of transmitting a disease. Cleanse the area with rubbing alcohol or anti-bacterial soap and cover with a bandage. Now that you have successfully removed the tick, you may want to save it in a pill vile or double bagged zip-lock bag to take to the doctors if you develop symptoms of tick-borne illness. Ticks can carry a variety of illnesses, having the tick will help your doctor correctly diagnose you in the event you fall ill. Symptoms of tick-borne illness can very greatly and can include but are not limited to...

  • red spot or rash near the bite site
  • neck stiffness
  • headache or nausea
  • weakness
  • muscle or joint pain/aches
  • fever or chills
  • swollen lymph nodes

Be sure to seek medical attention immediately if a tick bite results in any of the above symptoms. Most tick-borne illnesses can easily be treated if caught early, however, there are a few rare diseases that have no cure. The best way to prevent occurrences like these is to use a repellant and examine your skin regularly if you have been outside for an extended period of time in tall grass or wooded areas.

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