It’s the time of year to watch out for Ticks! Here’s how to dodge Lyme disease

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.

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NB. Updated 16/07/23


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  1. My daughter recently had a tick in her eye after taking herself off to sleep at school as she was poorly with a UTI. We ended up in A&E but they weren’t interested in the tick at all and only wanted to get her temp under control and diagnosed the UTI. It took me ages to convince them to look into her eye and it was only then that they said ‘oh yes, it’s got arms and legs’ and they still tried to send me home to book into the eye clinic another day!

  2. My daughter had a tick a few weeks ago on her neck. She was less than 2 weeks old. It was no bigger than a freckle (that’s why I noticed it) and we managed to get it all out but I still worry about it. I’m fairly sure because of its size that it hadn’t been there long but how long would it take to notice symptoms or a rash? She is now 9 weeks.

    1. Hi Laura – if it was the size of a freckle and you removed it within 24 hours then she should be OK. If a rash remains or if she develops any symptoms ranging from joint pain/stiffness, sensitivity to light, lethargy etc then please see a paediatrician as soon as you can.

      1. Hi Lucinda,

        My 7 year old daughter is currently on a 3 week course of antibiotics for Lyme Disease (she had a tick bite which was subsequently a bit sore and red so she had a blood test which came up positive).

        I was planning on giving her probiotics after she had finished, but had assumed if I gave them to her during the course the antibiotics would just wipe them out. But if you recommend that it will be beneficial to her to be taking probiotics whilst still on the antibiotics I will do that,

        There are so many probiotics out there, it is hard to know what is best – are there any you’d recommend?

        And any other tips on maintaining her health after she has finished the antibiotics based on your personal experience of this?

        1. Hi Corrie – gosh I am so sorry to hear this – Bio-Kult is a brilliant probiotic that is very hardy and can be taken alongside the antibiotics as well as afterwards. Ideally give at a different time of the day the the antibiotics for full effect. I would give daily for 3 months after completing the course of antibiotics. Good luck!

    1. Hi Liz – this is not one of our specialisms and we do not “treat” any specific conditions either – there are usually a couple of clinics in the UK that support adults with chronic lyme but these tend to change quite frequently so best not to leave the names here

  3. What symptoms did your daughter have that led you to believe it was lymes disease? We live in a wooded area and so far this summer I’ve pulled two off of both my sons and two off myself. I’m extremely concerned about lymes disease but worried I won’t spot symptoms as my baby is 1 so obviously can’t express any ailments. It’s causing me to loose sleep at night now!

    1. I hope they are ok. In fact, the biggest clue was that a few months previously we found she had a tick in her hair and the doctor did not advise antibiotics at the time. Then later she went downhill. She was normally energetic, bright and co-ordinated. The first symptoms were falling over easily, then a low grade malaise/fatigue that would not shift and unable to tolerate light or noises. She looked unwell and a grey pallor. Little ones seem unwell and tend to sleep more than normal. Every person is different and a blood test through your GP is advised if you are concerned. I hope this is helpful.

  4. Hello Lucinda, thank you very much for this informative post. It’s very helpful – I worry quite a bit about ticks although we haven’t been bitten yet. We do live near a big grassy area called Wanstead flats in east London and behind that is Wanstead Park which I know ticks are very active. I do check both of my children but I should do it more often and to date I have never checked their hair – only their hairline.
    My son has thick curly dark brown hair in a bob length and so it’s be really hard to check his scalp thoroughly. My daughter has fiat straight hair so a bit easier but I still have only checks ears and hairline with her. I don’t suppose you have a method for checking your children’s hair which you could share?
    Many thanks again, I’m absolutely petrified of Lymes.