Ticks are tiny little bugs that can carry a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and this can develop into a REALLY nasty illness called Lyme Disease. They can also potentially carry a cocktail of other infections that can trigger different symptoms – and that’s why Lyme Disease can present in so many different ways.
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My daughter suffered from Lyme when she was 8 years old and it was certainly the most challenging time in my life getting her back to her old vibrant self which took several months – that’s why I’m so passionate about protecting others from being bitten.
Ticks tend to lurk in long grass & woodlands where deer live, but they can be present almost anywhere green (a friend got bitten on a grass tennis court in Central London for instance).
The ones that latch onto you are absolutely tiny at the beginning – the size of a tiny freckle, so they are tricky to spot – the difference is that you can usually see a tiny red mark around it and when you get up close with a magnifying glass you can see it wriggle! My daughter’s tick was in her hair, so I only spotted it when I was brushing her hair. It’s not at all itchy, so you will not know it is there unless you look.
They tend not do any harm if they are removed safely with a specialist tick remover within 24 hours and if the red rash is smaller than 2-pence piece coin. However if the tick remains engorged for longer, then that’s when the havoc can begin – some people get a bulls eye rash around the tick quite quickly (or on another part of the body), but many people don’t and this is why it can go unnoticed. My daughter was unlucky; there may have been another one in her hair we didn’t spot.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease can develop symptoms over time including fatigue, joint pains, lock jaw, brain fog, anxiety, poor temperature regulation & light sensitivity. Most people get symptoms within a week or two, but others like my daughter did not start to show symptoms for around 4 months, so you need to keep on the look out. If you don’t catch it relatively quickly, Lyme can become very debilitating, and increasingly hard to recover from.
Tips to prevent getting bitten in the first place are to wear long trousers and t-shirts when out walking – ideally wear light-coloured clothes as the ticks are easier to spot. You can also wear Deet or natural insect repellents.
Check yourself and your kids every evening from top to toe (behind the ears/in the hair/between the toes) and remove safely with a tick remover. I keep a credit card shaped tick remover in my wallet at all times. This is from Lifesystems but you can probably find other brands easily online or in chemists. Avoid Vaseline, alcohol rubs and tweezers when removing tics as these can potentially encourage the tick to engorge even further, and then it is more likely to infect you if it is carrying a bacterial infection.
If the tick has been there longer than 24 hours, there’s a rash or you feel unwell see your GP immediately who will prescribe a course of antibiotics. If antibiotics are needed this is usually quite a long course which lasts several weeks (usually 2-4 weeks), so is a good idea to take live bacteria/ probiotics during the course (timing-wise as far away from the antibiotics – just before bed usually works) and then also take them for at least 6 weeks afterwards and ideally 3 months after.
If other Lyme symptoms arise whilst on the antibiotics or afterwards, the immune system may well need some extra support to help reduce the associated inflammation and this is where a NatureDoc practitioner can help guide you with 1 to 1 support.