Summer is almost here and most of us will be getting outside a lot more often. Spending time in nature has a vitalizing effect, boosting energy, lifting mood and lowering stress. Blame it on the warmer weather, but The NYT’s recently reported that incidents of disease borne by mosquitoes and ticks such as Lyme and Zika are on the rise. Good news- you don’t have to avoid spending time outdoors to stay safe.
- Wear clothing that creates a barrier to your skin, especially around feet and ankles even if it’s hot.
- Spray insect repellent (details below) especially around feet and ankles.
- Pull your hair back and consider a hat.
- Stay on the trail....avoid walking thru grasses or sitting on logs where ticks like to hang out.
Natural Insect Repellent: OLE!
If you want to avoid harsh chemicals like DEET, there is a healthier alternative.
One of the CDC recommended insect repellents is one containing
oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) as the main ingredient. This natural oil will act as your personal bodyguard, kicking pesky insects to the curb. Note that it has a strong scent and you should avoid allowing it to have any contact with your eyes.
The Consumer Reports most highly rated OLE based insect repellant is Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent2
Another tactic is to tick-proof your clothes using Permethrin, which is a synthetic and stable form of an insecticidal compound naturally produced by the Chrysanthemum plant. It is registered by the EPA and has a quick repel and kill effect on ticks...BuhBye. It is still a chemical, however, so inform yourself with this Permethrin Fact-Sheet
Once you are back from your frolic in nature, get naked and check for ticks. After a tick bites you, it takes about 24-36 hours for the pathogen to transmit into your blood. If you remove it early, you are probably ok. Did you know ticks can be the size of poppy seeds? Here's how to check like a boss.
What if you find a tick? Here is a video on the correct and easy way to remove a tick. Hint: It is not by burning it out!
Not all ticks transmit disease, but if you do find a tick, consider sending it off to a lab to have it tested.
If you do develop an expanding rash, fever or flu-like symptoms after a tick bite, don't wait, go and see a doctor. This is one of those rare times you will want to take antibiotics. The earlier you start treatment, the better your chances of an easy and full recovery.
Getting out in nature is very important for our sense of relaxation and well being. Be prepared so you can enjoy it safely!