Lyme disease can wreak havoc on both your body and your spirit. It makes sense that you would want to do whatever you can to steer clear of contracting this terrible illness. Here are several steps you can take to keep yourself healthy and Lyme-free.
Keep your home free of ticks
Because ticks are carriers for Lyme disease, you’ll want to make your home and garden as unfriendly to them as possible. Here are some tips for protecting your home:
Keep your grass and weeds cut short
Tall grass and weeds end up creating nice homes for ticks. They like the shadows and shade that the blades create, as well as the cool, damp environment they provide. Ticks also use tall blades of grass or weeds to climb up and then look for any mammals that might pass by that they can attach to (whether that’s a deer or you!). It’s recommended to cut your grass to at least 10 centimetres to keep ticks away.
Create a mulch moat
Wooded areas can be another hangout for ticks. If you have this type of environment on your property, it can be helpful to build a mulch moat. Try adding a 91-centimetre wide barrier of mulch around your property. The mulch can consist of either dry wood chips or mulch – make sure not to purchase the damp or shredded kind, which can actually entice ticks. The moat will help to create a little more protection for the perimeter of your property.
Clean up fallen leaves or debris
It’s important to make sure your garden is kept tidy all year round. Clean up any fallen leaves or grass clippings by bagging them up and disposing of them. Ticks won’t have as many places to reside on your property if this type of debris is unavailable to them.
Kill any ticks that might be around
To ensure that you’re completely ridding your property of ticks, you can take steps to kill the ticks that are residing on your land. Some people choose to spray their gardens with a pesticide, while others worry that this method could be dangerous for animals and people. One option is to use tick-killing agents to treat the fur of mice or deer, which can carry the ticks onto your property. There’s even a product that consists of cardboard tubes stuffed with cotton that has been treated with permethrin (a chemical that kills ticks). Mice can take the cotton back to their nests. The chemical binds to the oils on their fur – this kills the ticks, not the mice.
Protect yourself outdoors
If you want to keep yourself safe from ticks when you’re outdoors, here’s what you should do. Always wear protective clothing when out in nature. This includes wearing long-sleeved shirts, trousers and closed-toe shoes. You can even tuck your trousers into your socks to make sure you’re not leaving any skin exposed. Many people choose to spray an insecticide on their skin to try to deter any ticks. You can also use a chemical like the above-mentioned permethrin to treat your clothes. This can be a more convenient option since you only need to reapply it every couple of months. It’s also crucial to remember to be careful any time you’re outdoors. Stay mindful of places where ticks can be hiding – that means sticking to well-worn paths or hiking trails when in nature. Walking through overgrown areas means you’ll likely come upon some ticks.
Remove ticks as soon as possible
Any time you head back indoors after being outside, do a thorough check to make sure that no ticks have attached to your skin or clothing. Remove ticks as quickly as possible with either a pair of tweezers or a tick removal kit, which can be purchased specifically for this use. Taking a shower can also be helpful to wash away any ticks that might be on your skin. Washing your clothes and running them through the dryer can also improve your chances of killing any remaining ticks.
Have ticks tested for Lyme disease
If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick, you have the option of sending in the tick to have it tested. You can then see if the tick was a carrier for Lyme disease so that you’ll know if you’re at risk of contracting the condition.
Watch for any symptoms
Worried that you did contract Lyme disease? Pay attention to any physical symptoms you might be having. Some people with Lyme disease experience a red bullseye rash that appears on the skin at the site of the bite. This can show up anywhere from three to 30 days after the initial bite. Other symptoms can include extreme, unexplainable fatigue and joint pain. Some individuals also experience flu-like symptoms, such as low-grade fevers, headaches and dizziness. Even if you don’t notice any of these symptoms immediately after the bite, there’s a possibility you still have Lyme and the symptoms just haven’t presented themselves yet. It’s best to stay in tune with your body and observe if you start noticing anything unusual in how you’re feeling physically.
Get checked out
It’s always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor if you think you might have been bitten by a tick. They can run the appropriate tests and can then start you on the right treatment protocol. If you’re concerned about Lyme disease, let your doctor know. Not all medical professionals are educated about the dangers of Lyme disease, so it can be helpful if you mention your worries upfront.
It’s understandable that you might be worried about Lyme disease, but there are plenty of steps you can take to keep yourself safe.