First Aid and Natural Home Remedies for Tick Bites
Ticks are small arachnids, ectoparasites that live by feeding on the blood of mammals and birds, amphibians and reptiles.
Ticks are common enough throughout the world but prefer warm, moist environments. Ticks hang out in grassy and leafy areas and they can be as small as the head of a pin or as large as up to 11 mm (.43 inches) when fully engorged. After you’ve been messing about in the woods or playing in old leaf piles, check your body for ticks. They migrate toward warm, moist areas on your body.
Tick bites are usually harmless but if you are allergic you may have a serious reaction. Ticks also can carry diseases that can be transmitted to pets and people through bites. If you are bitten by a tick, you will want to remove the offender before further treatment.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
If you are bitten in a geographical region that is known to be at high-risk for tick-born diseases (i.e. Lyme disease), see a doctor to start an antibiotic treatment. If you are allergic you might develop:
- Breathing difficulty
- Pain or swelling
If the tick has passed on a disease to you, watch for the following signs which can appear within a few weeks and call for a visit to your doctor:
- Muscle or joint pain
- Rash that spreads over your body
- Red spot or rash near the bite
- Stiff neck
- Swollen lymph nodes
MEDICAL FIRST AID (standard)
- If you find a tick on your body, one removal method is to use a pair of fine-pointed tweezers and grasp the tick from the side close to your skin and slowly pull away, being careful not to bend of twist the tick. The longer the tick is in your skin, the greater the risk of infection. There is controversy about whether or not any mouth parts left behind are harmful but if you can, do not leave any tick parts in the bite. If you are unsuccessful, you can see a doctor to complete the removal.
- Clean the bite area with soap and water and wash your hands well. You can follow some of the suggestions under Mosquito Bites or Spider Bites to reduce any inflammation or itching.
- Another method is to spray an aerosol freezing spray or ether-containing spray to kill the tick. This is recommended for those with tick allergies. However, you may not have access to such a spray. You could substitute a product used for freezing off warts. Once the tick is dead, you can let it fall out naturally or you can use tweezers or forceps to remove it.
- Freeze the tick in a plastic bag and save just in case you need treatment—identification will be helpful.
- Cover the bite area with some oil and apply a bandage.
These can be used to repel ticks, encourage ticks to back out of your skin, or to treat the bite once the tick has been removed. For a repellent spray, use water with a combination of oils or use oil as the base and rub on.
- Palo Santo
- Rose geranium
For antiseptic treatment after tick has been removed:
- Catnip oil
- Lemon Eucalyptus
OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS
- Garlic (best to eat it)
- Vitamin B complex
OTHER THINGS YOU CAN TRY
- After removal, Intermittently apply an ice pack on the area. No more than 15 minutes once each hour for several hours.
- Apply a paste of diatomaceous earth and water on the tick while it is attached to you and it will eventually die and fall and come out (still save that tick in a plastic bag for a while just to be sure you develop no symptoms of infection). This is not ideal because it will be provide more time for infection.
- Mouthwash applied topically on the tick
- Onion applied to the bite after the tick has been removed
- Orange juice applied topically on the tick
- After removal, watch for signs of infection.
- Be sure you have removed all of the head and mouthparts. If you are unsure, visit your doctor.
- Do not use any method of removal that may encourage the tick to secrete its “blood meal.”
- Do NOT use heat.
- Seek medical attention if you develop a red circle around the bite; it might indicate Lyme disease.
- If you have ticks in your own living area, you can use diatomaceous earth on the ground. Beware that it will kill good bugs as well as nuisance bugs.
- Introduce nematodes into your lawn or garden.
- Keep mice and deer away from your property.
- The best prevention, other than to avoid grassy and leafy areas, is to cover as much of your skin as possible when in Tick Territory.