Ticks are nasty! Their bites can cause untold misery. The infections they transmit can cause disability and even death. We know too many people who have experienced bouts of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. Some other tick-borne illnesses include: Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Colorado tick fever, ehrlichiosis, Powassan disease, tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF), tularemia and 354D rickettsiosis. You definitely want to avoid these diseases by preventing tick bites.
The Death of Dr. Neil Spector:
Our hearts are broken because of the death of Neil Spector, MD. He passed away on June 14, 2020, at the age of 63. Our interviews with Dr. Spector reveal the challenges of getting an accurate Lyme disease diagnosis. Dr. Spector was a giant in the medical community and a dear friend of the Lyme community. To learn about this cancer researcher and Lyme disease victim, please read his obituary at this link.
The Importance of Preventing Tick Bites!
This reader has been feeling cooped up because of the coronavirus. He wants to get outdoors, but does not want to get too close to other people. He wants to know how he can avoid picking up ticks while walking outside.
Q. I can’t stand staying inside all the time, but I don’t like walking on a path with lots of other people. That means I have to step into the underbrush or go hiking in the woods.
I am concerned about ticks. A friend had Lyme disease and it was devastating. What’s the best way to avoid tick bites?
A. Even when it’s hot, wear long pants tucked into your socks. Spray your shoes and socks with DEET.
Preventing Tick Bites with Gaiters:
An alternative would be to wear “gaiters” that have been treated with permethrin such as Outdoor Research Tick Gaiters or Lymeez Tick Gear . Ticks are not fond of permethrin. When they come into contact with this insecticide they tend to retreat.
Preventing Tick Bites with Other Approaches:
Bill shared this “home remedy” from his youth:
“When I was growing in Alabama in the 1940’s and 50’s, we spent a lot of time in the woods. Our mother used to make us wear long sleeves and pants and tightened the cuffs with rubber bands and then sprinkled sulfur powder around our wrists and ankles before we went out. I don’t ever remember having a tick on any of us. I wish I knew if there was any scientific reason behind this.”
Don offers this somewhat intriguing approach to preventing tick bites:
“I read somewhere that wearing panty hose as an additional undergarment while walking in woods or fields provides another layer of protection against ticks. I haven’t tried it myself, but perhaps other readers have.”
Jill points out that it is impossible to prevent 100% of tick bites:
“If you are worried about tick bites I suggest reading 2 books “Healing Lyme” and “Unlocking Lyme.” Both are written by doctors that have Lyme. No matter what you use, it is impossible to prevent 100% of tick bites. And all it takes is one bite to get sick. Add to your arsenal the weapons to fight off an infection if you do get bit!”
We would add to that Dr. Neil Spector’s book:
Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician’s Search for True Healing
We always suggest that when you get home from a walk in the woods or in any field, always check your body carefully for ticks.
Two Physicians Describe What It’s Like to Have Lyme Disease:
Preventing tick bites is the first step to avoiding Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses. Getting a proper diagnosis and prompt treatment if you end up with a tick-borne illness is critical.
If you would like to listen to two powerful People’s Pharmacy interviews with Dr. Spector, here are the links.
Show 996: Mystery and Lyme Disease Misdiagnosis
Dr. Spector describes his misdiagnosis with Lyme disease and shares the reason he wrote the book: Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician’s Search for True Healing.
Show 1081: What Do You Need to Know About Lyme Disease:
Lyme disease isn’t always easy to diagnose, and it can cause serious long-lasting damage. How can you be alert for this tick-borne infection?
Please share your own experience with ticks in the comment section below. What are your strategies for preventing tick bites?