How to Combat Ticks Naturally.

Naturally Preventing Tick Bites

The warmth of spring undeniably brings happiness and excitement; it means you can finally go outside without a billion layers and, even more excitingly, summer adventures are finally in site. The warmth of spring, however, also wakes up some nasty friends to partake in the fun: ticks.  

Ticks typically like to hang out in tall grasses, shrubs and wooded areas. They commonly grab onto boots or pant legs and crawl their way up to warm blood sources. In general, having an insect burrow itself into your flesh for blood is not a pretty thought. A bite, however, isn’t even the worst part of it. Black-legged ticks, in particular, are carriers of a ruthless disease: Lyme Disease. This disease takes weeks up to years to recover from and can infect your central nervous system and cardiovascular system.

Thankfully, in Alberta, it is relatively uncommon to get bit by a black-legged tick.  The risk, however, certainly isn’t worth it. (Especially if you’re exploring southern BC) [1]

Regardless, I say it’s best to avoid tick bites in the first place. 

Image courtesy of Macleans

Image courtesy of CBH

Natural Methods to Prevent Ticks:

  • Tuck your shirt into your pants 
  • Walk on cleared paths or walkways
  • Wear high socks & consider pulling them over your pant legs
  • Wear closed-toe shoes
  • Use a natural repellent such as Geranium or Lavender oil. (Read More Below)

Thankfully, there are numerous ways to avoid getting bit by one (or some) of these blood suckers. That being said, they are sneaky and agile, so never forget to scan yourself (and your children or dog) after a day spent outside.

It is also a good idea to throw your clothes in a dryer and put it on high for at least 10 mins to kill any ticks that may be hiding in your clothes. Taking a shower or bath as soon as you can is also great help. 

(Thanks to the Government of Canada for confirming these useful prevention methods!)

Geranium Oil

Essential oils have been proven effective against preventing tick bites. This is a win in my books because above being natural and free of chemicals, essential oils boast loads of other health benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rosemary, geranium, lemongrass, cedar and peppermint are all effective choices. In my opinion, however, Geranium oil is the best pick. Why?

  1. Geranium oil is safe for both humans, including children over 6 months of age, as well as dogs. (Many essential oils are harmful to pets and children) [2a]
  2. It is gentle and safe for skin and clothing. [3]
  3. It has a soft scent and wont irritate others (except those pesky ticks ofcourse!) [4a]
  4. Geranium oil is easily available for purchase

Geranium Oil Application Methods.

Skin Ointment

Geranium oil is said to be gentle enough to apply directly to the skin. It is advised, however, to always use a carrier oil, especially if you have sensitive skin. [4b]

DIY Tick Repellent Ointment:

-> For adults, mix 12 drops of geranium oil with 2 tbsps of carrier oil 

-> Apply to exposed and target areas (neck, wrists, ankles, etc)

Carrier Oil Choices:

  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
*This ratio of oils is safe for adults. For use on children, consult your practitioner*

Body and Clothing Spray

Making a spray is handy to use as a repellent on clothes or on your body. 

DIY Tick Repellent Spray:

Ingredients:

  • 20 drops geranium oil
  • 4 oz water
  • 1/2 tbsp witch hazel (optional)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients. Shake before each use. 

*This ratio of oils is safe for adults. For use on children, consult your practitioner* 

 

On Your Dog:

First off, know that Gernium Oil is not safe to use on cats. It is, however, safe for use on dogs and be a very effective method to prevent bites and to avoid your dog bringing ticks back into your home [2b]. How should it be done?

  1. Put a couple of drops on their collar
  2.  Put a couple of drops of diluted oil between their shoulder blades and at the base of their tail. 
  3. Use a repellent spray (as explained previous) Make sure to avoid eyes and sensitive areas

(Some sources say it’s okay to apply undiluted oil directly, however, I stand by the notion that diluted is always safest and avoids irritation)

What if You Find a Tick?

If you do find a tick, it is suggested that, using tweezers, you pull the tick straight out as close to the head as possible.

Do not twist the tick out. [1b]

Do not “burn” the tick out. (Holding a lighter close to a tick is a myth. In fact, this could cause the tick to dig deeper, or even spread more toxins).  [5]

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