In my last post, I shared my daughter’s story and tips to help you catch Lyme disease early. But how can we protect ourselves from getting it in the first place? Studies show at least 20% of people with Lyme disease don’t remember a rash, and the number could be as high as 73%.
And, unfortunately, the other symptoms can mimic everything from the flu to rheumatoid arthritis. Many with Lyme have been misdiagnosed with depression, multiple sclerosis, or chronic fatigue syndrome.
So how can we decrease our chances of getting this debilitating disease? I wish I could tell you the tips are easy, but for busy moms and nature-lovers like me, they certainly aren’t. However, they might just prevent our minds and bodies from giving out on us before their time.
So here they are! The more we do, and the more often we do them, the more we’ll lower our risk of getting Lyme disease.
When hiking, playing outdoors, or doing yard work from the spring through the fall, take the following precautions:
• Wear hats, long-sleeved shirts, and pants tucked into socks. (Lighter-colored clothing is best, because it makes it easier to see the ticks.)
• Wear shoes—no flip-flops, sandals, or bare feet—and spray them with permethrin every six weeks. (This tip is one of the easier ones, but it’s been shown to have a big impact.)
• Pre-treat your clothes with permethrin and use EPA-approved insect repellent on your body. (Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil are most effective.)
• Walk in the center of trails to avoid brush, tall grass, and leaf litter.
• Don’t sit on logs or lean against trees.
• After being outdoors, check yourself and your children for ticks. Don’t forget hidden places like the underwear area and scalps, armpits, and belly buttons.
• Bathe or shower within two hours of coming inside.
• Toss your clothes in a dryer for 5-10 minutes to kill any ticks that may have traveled inside with you.
• Avoid tick-infested areas from May through July when the nymphs are feeding. (Nymphs are the main disease-carrying stage of the deer tick.)
• If you live in a high-risk area, hire a professional to spray for ticks between mid-May and early June.
• Discourage deer from coming into your yard through building fences and removing plants they enjoy eating.
Those are the best tips I’ve found for preventing this debilitating disease. I don’t expect us to do all of them, but every one we do will help lower our risk of getting Lyme.
For more information about Lyme disease, read “Lyme Disease! What It Is & Why You Should Care.”