Summer is in full swing and so is Lyme Disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25,000 to 30,000 cases of the infection are reported annually. Ick! And with your little dudes playing outside, infection is a real risk.
Symptoms can often be mistaken for other common illnesses, like a cold or flu, and the telltale bulls-eye rash is only present in 20-30% of the cases. To make matters worse, tests aren’t always accurate because it takes 4-6 weeks post infection for your body to crank out enough antibodies to be detectable. Sigh.
So your best bet is to play some defense. Do everything you can to prevent these nasty little deer ticks from attaching themselves to you or your kids. And here are some ways to go about it:
Prep Your Yard – mulch, especially made from cedar, acts as a tick repellant. So spread mulch between any wooded areas and your lawn. Also, place kids’ swing sets, sandboxes and other toys as far from wooded areas as possible.
Wear Light Colored Clothing – ticks are blackish in color and can be as small as a freckle. They’re much easier to spot if they’re crawling on white or light colored clothing.
Use Bug Repellent – bug spray with at least 20% DEET works best to repel insects. If you are an anti DEET kind of mom (which I totally get!), they try some natural alternatives such as citronella, lavender and eucalyptus. Stores like Whole Foods and most drug stores carry these oils and sprays. They actually smell amazing. People will think you’ve just come from the spa!
Channel Your Inner Urkel – dorky as it may sound, tucking your pants into your socks when you’re outside will help keep ticks off your skin. Obviously if you’re wearing shorts, this isn’t an option (unless they’re REALLY long short) but do the best you can to cover up as much skin as possible if you’re in a wooded area. And gardeners should always wear gloves.
Shower, Wash, Repeat – once you’re done channeling your inner trail blazer, shower immediately and put your clothes through a full wash and dry cycle. The dry cycle is actually more important because these hardy little critters can survive a good cleaning but can’t handle the heat of a dryer. Then click hereto learn how to perform a full body check. If (gasp!) you do find a little bugger on your skin or scalp, immediately remove it with a fine-tipped tweezer. Grab it firmly and pull swiftly, making sure to remove the whole bug but being careful not to squeeze its body, which may release Lyme bacteria.
SpecTICKular advice, don’t you think?
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