There is so much wrong and misunderstood about Lyme, especially when it comes to chronic lyme. And while many are lobbying for things to change, as they have for decades, the professionals insist that prevention is the key. I always agree prevention should be a mighty tool and yet there is no comfort in this because the prevention information we are receiving is not only wrong, many pieces are missing. So I am writing this blog to share beyond the traditional prevention tips that are out there.
Removal is key
Regardless of time attached, proper removal can be mean infection or no infection. So I strongly encourage people to learn proper removal. Many tools have been developed to eliminate the human factor. They are supposed to protect us from making human error when removing a tick, but they dont always work in every situation too. Many suggest that tweezers allow for human error, but I disagree. I believe regardless of what you use you must understand the key principles to removal:
1) You must not stress, push, pull, twist, drop oil on the tick. That will only cause it to get upset and possibly regurgitate the bacteria in to you.
2) it is more important to take you time to remove it properly that to rapidly rip it off however you can.
3) You must get as low as you can to the attachment site to make sure to remove the whole tick, including the head.
4) If using tweezers apply consistently pressure and pull directly up.
5) Clean the area with an antiseptic such as alcohol
There is actually a product that is not only a deterrent, it will kill the tick on contact. It is not meant for use on your skin, but is highly recommended for spraying on your clothes. It is an insecticide and as such, should not be inhaled. But if you take your clothes to a well ventilated area (like outside) and spray with permethrin, it will dry within 2 hours and will bind to the outside of your clothing leaving no residual vapours that can be inhaled.
Health Canada does not approve this product for human use, so it is not as easy to obtain. Yet the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends it (with the above qualifier from Health Canada). It has been used in the military for years. Ironically, it the same ingredient you will find in horse spray (and applied by humans) at a percentage of 50%.Since this is not promoted by Canada it is not always as easy to get, but not impossible. So a few suggestions to acquire it:
1) I have ordered it through Amazon, a few came to me no problem, but one product was held up at the border. However, I have the same issue with many of my vitamins.
2) There is a company in the U.S. that you can mail certain articles of clothing to and for a reasonable fee they will spray them for you and return them. They are considered sprayed for up to 70 washing (which I am told is past the life of most clothing). They will ship to Canada, however you must be aware that you will be responsible for ship both ways and duty.
3) You can buy pre-sprayed clothing at some outdoor stores (but mostly in the US).
4) I am also told you can buy the clothing spray at some outdoor stores such as Bass Pro.
I understand the spray is very harmful to cats, as a word of caution. There is no pretending, it is a chemical, so it must be something you consider all of the options, before using. For me, I will be spraying all my families hunting clothes. The alternative for me has been a lifelong, once debilitating disease that is not treated in my country (using most of my retirement saving). Not really a question in my mind. Here's more info for you to decide for yourself.
At the moment DEET is recommended as a direct on skin repellant spray for humans. The good news is there are newer products on the market that are performing just as well as DEET at a lower percentage (20%) and are considered safer.
Picaridin (sometimes listed as Icaridin): This can be obtained in Canada, just not everywhere. You will only find it at 20% and can find at large box stores where insect spray is usually found and I know it is at MEC. I have also ordered this from Amazon.
Avon Skin So Soft has it as an ingredient at 10% (which just means it many need to be reapplied more frequently). However, I haven't found it in stores yet, but did receive it by mail quite easily.
There are other newer ingredients that seem to be performing well. I have not been able to investigate their acquisition in Canada, but I encourage you to visit the US Environmental Protection Agencies tool on their site. It will not only help you find the right repellant for you, it will give you all the info you need re: application and longevity. Great site.
There are natural alternatives but it is hard to say which ones work. I cannot find tests or studies that compare them. However a natural solution has to be better than none. I am sharing one for Dr. Josh Axe, a published doctor on the treatment of chronic illness and Lyme disease.
The 24-36 Hour Rule
One last quick and important piece of advice is - not to assume you are okay by the rule that says you cannot be infected until after 24 hours. The rule comes from the fact that it usually takes 24 -36 hours for a tick to feed and fill up on you. It is generally understood that is the point where it "overfills" and the lyme bacteria can be regurgitated into you. But that assumes so many factors, such as:
1) It was not feeding on something else and fell off
2) It was not pushed, pressed on or moved in any way
3) It was not stressed at any point, when they're known to regurgitate
4) The removal was perfect
There are many studies revealing infection from a tick can happen well within the 24 hour period, such as one that infection was as early as 6 hours. ( I will site these studies shortly) Myself, I believe the tick was attached for around 8 hours and I was infected likely for many of the reasons I mention above. Another study has shown that some of the co-infections that accompany lyme, infected within 10-15 minutes. Seek treatment, it is your next best prevention after a bite (another blog to follow on treatment info).
Among other handy tips that are available on-line, you can always use a sticky roller (white) to see if you have any ticks on you upon return. You can put your clothes in a dryer and do a really good tick check before showering.
Happy and Safe Outdoors My Friends!
Happy and Safe Outdoors My Friends!