Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Make Your Own Natural Tick Repellent

I am in the woods a lot. Looking for mushrooms, harvesting wild edibles, bird watching. If I have time to spare, I'm outside.

Ticks - and Lyme's disease - have become a real problem in Western PA, the United States in general, and in many areas of the world. Even though it has reached nearly epidemic levels, it is still underdiagnosed and not always treated immediately. The disease can become chronic, the flu-like symptoms of aches and fatigue morphing into chronic fatigue and debilitating pain in some cases.

I want to do everything I can to avoid getting Lyme's disease. So here is what I do:

I make a homemade tick repellent from vinegar (white or apple cider), water, and essential oils.

I buy a spray bottle from the dollar store, and fill it halfway with vinegar and half with water. To this I add essential oils. Currently I am using:
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Peppermint
  • Lemongrass (or Lemon, whichever I have on hand.)
I add at least 30 drops of each oil to the bottle, often more, I am very generous with the essential oils.

I keep the bottle in the car and before heading into the woods I spray myself like crazy. All over my clothes, my hair, my shoes, socks. I also spray every part of my skin which is exposed and I rub it all in. I stink of vinegar (oh!) and essential oils (not bad), which is an odd combination but it doesn't bother me. It smells kind of good and bad all at once.

And then I check for ticks obsessively during and after the walks. This year I've only found one (knock on wood!) crawling on me, and I got it off before it bit me.

I love being in the woods and I hate the thought of Lyme's disease.

Other tips: 
  • Tuck pants into socks and tuck your shirt into your pants.
  • Pull your hair back into a ponytail and/or wear a hat
  • Wear light colored clothing because it's easier to see the ticks on them
Don't panic if you find a tick. Pull it out with tweezers or a special tick remover. We have a "Zeckenkarte" which someone gave us from Germany, and it removes ticks incredibly well (I have found them on me in the past, before I concocted my tick repellent!) I keep the Zeckencarte on hand as well. Then wash the spot, I like to dab it with an essential oil like lavender. If you use homeopathy, Ledum is a good one to take after a tick bite.

Watch the spot and if you develop a rash - bull's eye or otherwise - go to the doctor as soon as you can. Also, if you develop flu-like symptoms such as fatigue and muscle pain, even without the rash, go to the doctor. Some people save the tick in a plastic bag so it can be tested for Lyme, but I've never met a doctor who wanted to see or test the tick (but maybe yours does!) Antibiotics - usually doxycyclene - is the common treatment for Lyme's disease.

Good luck and stay safe out there!