How to protect yourself from Lyme disease this summer

Returning to the glory of nature after months of hibernation during the winter chill is an exhilarating annual rite. Exercising your legs on a brisk bush-walk, you might spy a vantage point with a panoramic view of the ocean that would be perfect for a Facebook post. But the high brush and grass you have to walk through to get there is where you are most likely to come in contact with a tick. So, before lacing up your shoes and frolicking in the warm air, it’s important to be aware of some simple precautions to prevent Lyme disease.


When hiking, wear pants and socks and stay in the middle of paths as much as possible, avoiding tall grass and leaf piles where ticks tend to hide. Tuck your pant legs into your socks to prevent ticks from scaling your legs. Also, wearing white or light colors will make it easier to detect ticks on your clothes.


Products containing DEET or Picaridin are considered best for protecting the skin and clothing from ticks. If you don’t like chemicals, ircaridin and lemon eucalyptus extract are acceptable alternatives to DEET.


You can also treat camping boots and gear with Permethrin, an anti-parasite spray(don’t apply permethrin on your skin). Permethrin is hard to remove from clothes and provides protection for a long time. You can also buy clothes that have built-in tick repellent.


If you think that a tick might still be lingering in your gear, put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for a minimum of 20 minutes.  This should kill any ticks that may be tucked in the crevices of your clothing. Also, you can give yourself and your partner a full-body tick check.  Start at the top by combing through your hair. Check your pets for ticks as well, as a tick can catch a ride on a pet and then attach to a human.


You should also take a bath or shower in hot water as soon as you’re in your home. This will help to wash off and easily find ticks that may be stuck on your body.


If you find a tick attached to your body, the best way to kill it is by dousing it with a freeze spray. Keeping a freeze spray handy is a good idea as they can quickly stop the tick from releasing more saliva, and allow it to fall off on its own.


If you don’t have a spray, use tweezers to grab the tick and pull it quickly from your skin. You should pull upwards on the tick in one clean and smooth motion. Do not wrestle or squeeze the tick as this will provoke it to inject you with more bacteria. Save the tick in a plastic bag or a container, and show it to your Doctor so they can identify the type of tick. This will help them to provide the best possible Lyme disease treatment.


Early symptoms of Lyme disease, occurring in the first two or three weeks after a tick bite, can include a skin rash (called a “bull’s–eye” rash), flu-like symptoms, joint pains, swollen lymph nodes, fever and headache.


If left untreated, Lyme disease can develop into a chronic infection with a wide variety of symptoms affecting every organ system, including the heart and brain.  Chronic Lyme disease can also mimic the symptoms of many other illnesses.


It is vital that you find a physician experienced in treating Lyme Disease to treat you as early as possible. Dr. Dobie is one of the most renowned doctors who offer the best Lyme disease treatment in Australia.

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