Did you or someone in your family just get bit by a tick? Here’s what you need to know to deal with the bite as effectively as possible and increase your chance of catching any pathogens that tick was carrying. This is what we do now in our family every time someone gets a bite. Had we known to take these steps from the beginning, perhaps I would not be infected with so many pathogens now.
Please note: I am not a Doctor. And this is not medical advice. I am just relaying what I have found in my research of the evidence and through my own experiences with these terrible diseases.
Step One: Remove the tick as quickly as possible!
The longer the tick is attached the greater your risk of it transmitting the pathogens it is carrying to you. Do not wait to remove it! In fact, I carry tweezers with me everywhere I go just for the purpose of removing a tick because you never know where or when you might pick one up.
Articles on the internet will tell you all sorts of ways of removing a tick such as burning it with a match, or applying oils and other substances to the bite. DO NOT DO ANY OF THESE THINGS!!!! All of these methods have the potential to upset the tick which has been scientifically proven to cause ticks to regurgitate into the host(you)…transmitting more pathogens.
Get a pointy tweezer, grasp the tick as close to the head as you can get it and pull gently but firmly until the tick is removed from the skin.
Step 2: What do I do with this nasty thing now?
Opinions vary greatly, and we have done several different things ourselves over the years. First put that nasty little blood sucking parasite in a ziplock bag or other containment area and seal him up where he will be safe. We need to leave the tick safely contained while we move on to the next step. We’ll return to this step again soon now that the tick is safely contained. Now we need to deal with the bite it left behind.
Step 3: Apply Drawing Agent and antibacterial to the site
Mix some bentonite clay (a drawing agent which may help keep the pathogens from entering you through the bite) with a small amount of water, or better yet, some andrographis tincture (an herbal antibacterial that can also help lower the risk of infection if applied soon after the bite). Apply a glob of this pasty mix to the site of the bite, and cover with a bandaid. For extra good measure you can apply fresh clay and andrographis several times a day the first couple of days following a bite.
Step 4: If you do not have chronic lyme, consider taking Astragalus 3,000 mg for 30 days, and 1,000 mg thereafter, as recommended by herbalist Stephen Buhner.
(Note: in endemic areas, Buhner recommends taking 1,000 mg daily for prevention and good immune function)
Try homeopathic Ledum 200c taken every 3 hours for the first day, followed by twice daily for a week. This is then used twice weekly for a month and then once per week for another month.
This is the time to decide if you think natural therapy is enough, or to consider also taking antibiotics. (Remember ALL TREATMENTS will be most effective the soonest they are taken following a bite) At our house, we decide this based on what type of tick we removed, what it statistically may have been carrying in our location, and then base our risk on that.
So, if someone was bitten by an american dog tick where we live, the chances are fairly low of contracting infection (about 6% carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in my area). So we use the herbal therapies above and begin a watch for any strange symptoms that may develop.
However, if bitten by a deer tick, which is statistically much more likely to infect a human (67% of adult deer ticks in my area carry Lyme Disease, 40% carry Babesia, 20% carry anaplasmosis, and about 5% carry Powassan Virus) there is a much higher risk of infection(s). In this case we take 6-8 weeks of antibiotics just in case.
(if you need antibiotics, you may have trouble getting a doctor to prescribe that long of a course of antibiotics. Go to more than one, an Emergency Room, Urgent Cares, anywhere you need to go to get the antibiotics and clear the infection before it spreads and becomes chronic and harder to treat!)
Step 5: Decide what to do with the little blood sucker you removed from your skin and trapped in a jar. I tend to just keep them in the jars. I know I am a little weird. Sometimes I even let them out of confinement to observe their behavior or take a picture. I keep thinking I will bring my collection of ticks with me as a powerful visual to show to my new Town Supervisor when I go to discuss my chicken problem, but I haven’t followed through with that one yet. Maybe one day.
Some people like to send their tick out to a lab who will test the tick (for a fee) and see which of the most common pathogens it was carrying. Google can help you with this if you want to know where to send it. Just remember that this testing will only tell you what the tick was carrying, not what the tick actually passed on to you.
Some states are beginning to collect the data from tick testing, to use for research purposes and to better define risk. I recently read that Pennsylvania is now offering free tick testing and using the results for statistics. If I lived in Pennsylvania, I would definitely send them all the little blood suckers we have found on us here so that the data could be added.
Congratulations! You have now safely and promptly removed the tick, and taken measures to prevent infection. Have a rest and get warm by the fire, like little Cocky Locky (our first rooster) so loved to do.