Lyme Disease Prevention Part 2: What To Do If You Get Bit
As we transition into the summer months and increase our outdoor activities, it is easy to forget about the need to protect ourselves and our families from a common but serious health threat: Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Thankfully, as discussed in the previous article “Lyme Disease Prevention Part 1: How to Avoid Getting Bit” (as outlined by Dr. Myriah Hinchey, Lyme Literate Naturopathic Doctor, Founder/Medical Director of Tao Vitality LLC, and co-founder of LymeCore Botanicals) there are practical and simple ways to reduce the chances of getting bit and subsequently contracting Lyme disease and other co-infections that can have damaging long-term effects. And if you do get bit, taking proactive measures to quickly address a potential or active infection can be done using proven natural methods, often in conjunction with more conventional approaches.
With Covid-19 concerns still lingering for an undetermined amount of time, optimizing health is on everyone’s mind. Time outside getting adequate sunshine/vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise are vital to immune function and overall well-being, but what do we do if preventative measures for Lyme fail and we suddenly find a tick embedded in our skin?
There is a much better chance of avoiding acute and chronic Lyme disease if the tick is removed properly, if the pathogenic status of the tick is determined through testing, and if preventative measures are taken and symptoms are identified effectively within a critical time period after getting bit.
This approach can help to prevent an active infection and determine a treatment protocol should the tick contain the Lyme disease-causing bacterial spirochete, borrelia burgdorferi, and/or other co-infections. Important recommendations to follow if you get a tick bite include:
The #1 recommendation: The most important thing to keep in mind if you find an embedded tick on your skin is to avoid irritating, suffocating, or doing anything to causes the tick to pull its head out of your body. If it does, it will regurgitate its contents -- including the Lyme-causing bacteria -- back into you.
Stay away from the old wives’ tale methods of tick removal: Do not put alcohol, fingernail polish, or Vaseline on the tick. Also, do not try to burn the tick with a head of a match, or do anything that would irritate a tick and prompt it to pull away.
Proper tick removal: When removing a tick correctly, you want to use flat tip tweezers. Firmly grasp the tick at the base of its head as close to the skin as possible. You want to take the edge of the tweezer and line it up parallel so that it's touching the skin and then gently pull with a gentle, steady force until the tick releases itself.
Avoid the following when removing a tick: Do not use sharp pointed tweezers, grab the tick in the center, try to pop its bag, twist or turn the tick, or use an apparatus to try to spin the tick out. The longer you engage with the tick the more likely that it is going to regurgitate its contaminated contents back into your body, and the higher probability you have of contracting an infection.
After removing the tick: Once you've removed the tick, it is recommended to clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and use a topical product called After Bite, soaked in a cotton ball and applied with a Band-Aid. You can mix the After Bite with bentonite clay which has a detoxifying drawing action.
Testing the tick: Testing is optional, but highly advised as it can offer peace of mind and inform you if you need to seek treatment from a qualified practitioner. To get the tick tested, there are websites such as www.tickreport.com that provide accurate and quick results. For this particular company, there is a basic panel or an expanded panel that tests for a wider array of pathogens. Place the tick into a Ziploc bag (alive, the way that it is), fill out the online order form, enter an all the standard identification for yourself, and record the serial number on the plastic bag itself. After the mailing process is completed, the lab will issue an identification number and perform an in-depth analysis of the tick (whether it is male or female, if it was partially engorged, etc.). The results are securely delivered to you via email within 3 business days after the tick arrives at the lab. It is ideal to send the tick by FedEx overnight for the fastest service in order to receive the results back in 72 hours. This gives you the ability to go on doxycycline within that critical four-day treatment window.
What next? Initially, a proactive natural approach after sustaining a tick bite is recommended using proven herbal supplements. This includes taking 3000 milligrams of Astragalus drops four times a day for 30 days, 30 drops of Andrographis three times a day for 30 days, and 30 drops of Echinacea three times a day for 30 days. Additionally, you want to watch for visual signs of an active infection which include expanding of the redness around the bite and/or a classic bull’s eye or other forms of a rash, and any sort of heat in the area itself. If you develop systemic symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, muscle or joint aches, fatigue, or headaches, or if you receive positive results back from your tick analysis, it is advised to see a medical doctor to prescribe antibiotics. It is also recommended to seek care from a Lyme Literate Doctor who can create an individualized herbal protocol that complements and enhances traditional methods of treating tick-borne infections. Using evidence-based, clinically effective, pharmaceutical-grade, anti-pathogenic herbs verified for potency and purity can greatly improve your chances of addressing Lyme disease and co-infections. Above all, try to remain calm and not panic. The hormone cortisol, which triggers the stress response, hinders your immune system's ability to function properly and fight an infection.
For questions about Lyme Disease and scheduling in-person or virtual appointments with a Lyme-Literate Physician, lab testing, and recommended supplements, please visit our intake form page or call 860.228.1287. We expressly deny that the information being provided is intended to assist in the curing, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease. You should always talk with your personal medical professional to discuss what treatments are safe and effective for your own medical needs.