Clubhouse Summerana Tog Talk Tuesdays: Recap – Ticks & Lyme, Protecting Yourself When Outdoors.
Missed our Clubhouse chat this week, or a snippet of the engaging & constructive conversation that arose?
This week’s topic was one close to my heart. Myself, my husband, and 2 of our 3 children were all diagnosed with Lyme disease a few yeas ago. I like to consider myself an advocate, and use the trauma that happened to my family as a way to help educate and protect others.
In today’s Clubhouse, we talked about ways to help protect us photographers when working outdoors. We also busted some myths about this very real, and very COMMON disease spread by the simple bite of a very tiny arachnid.
Top 5 Tick Awareness & Prevention Tips
- Wear long pants, socks & boots.
Whenever you shoot outdoors – especially in forests, wooded areas, and tall grass, cover your legs, ankles & feet. I also wear tall ‘rain’ boots for extra protection. And YES, I wear all of this even in the 90 degree heat of summer in Chicago.
- Tick check your body!
Ticks are stealthy and move slowly. Many people do not even feel them crawling on skin. Check your entire body, especially the ‘warm & dark’ areas like your groin, between toes, folds of the ears (and ‘tush’). Remember, they can be as tiny as a freckle.
- If you find a tick on yourself remove it SAFELY.
- If it is just crawling on you, SAVE IT & put it in a plastic zip lock baggie and into the freezer. This way, if you find a rash or symptom afterwards, you can test the tick for disease.
- If it has bitten you, carefully remove it with tweezers at the tip of the head/jaws. Do NOT pluck it from the body and disconnect the head – this can cause other infections. Again, SAVE IT in a baggie in the freezer so you can test it if needed.
Sadly, many natural and holistic sprays and oils do not deter ticks. The ones that do the best job are the heavy hitters, like Deet, though that comes with its own worries as a toxic chemical.
- Deet – works well, but make sure to shower off skin after done outside.
- Permethrin – works great, but higher toxicity to skin – spray on shoes, boots, jeans
- Natural – works for mosquitoes fairly well, but will not deter ticks
- Educate your clients.
I personally include information about ticks in my contract, stating that we will be going outside where bugs live. Explain that there is always a chance of mosquitoes and ticks, and that by signing the contract/waiver your clients understand and accept the possibilities.
Myths and Truths about Ticks & Lyme
Myth: There is always a bullseye rash.
TRUTH: Not everyone shows a bullseye rash. Studies actually show that less than 70% of those bitten actually develop a rash.
Myth: Ticks are only in tall grasses and fields.
TRUTH: They are everywhere and anywhere. New studies have even found them on beaches – yes BEACHES, sand. My family lives in a stereotypical suburban neighborhood, and I have pulled more ticks off my children than I care to remember. Where there are animals, there are ticks.
Myth: Ticks come from deer.
TRUTH: Ticks travel on all animals, especially the small ones that are low the ground and easy to access. Mice, skunks, raccoons, birds, etc. They are not particular on what animal, as long as it has blood. They have even been found on reptiles such as snakes and lizards.
Myth: Ticks bite on the legs.
TRUTH: Ticks like dark, warm places like your scalp, behind and in the ears, between toes, armpits, groins – places you would NOT see a bullseye rash (if there was one).
Myth: Ticks are only warm weather bugs.
TRUTH: In fact, ticks are alive and biting during the winter, even in snow. They do slow down and are not as common, but are completely active during the colder months. Only a hard frost with subzero temperatures for a couple weeks on end will kill off ticks.
Myth: Lyme disease is not common.
TRUTH: The CDC suggests that 300,000 people per year are diagnosed. HOWEVER, with the incredibly huge number of misdiagnoses – that number is possibly as high as 1,000,000 per year (as per Lyme Disease speciality studies).
Myth: You can easily test for Lyme Disease.
TRUTH: The testing is proven to be quite INACCURATE. It also takes 4-6 weeks (sometimes longer) for the bacteria to fully show the antibodies. On top of that, 20-30% of patients have falsely negative antibody tests.
Myth: You get really sick right way with Lyme Disease. It’s like having the flu.
TRUTH: For many, the ailments can come on slow. Aside from the basics of fever & rash, symptoms can showcase in a variety of ways including: mental health (aggression, depression, OCD, anxiety), aches & pains (compared to growing pains & stiff joints), exhaustion & fatigue, headaches, hart palpitations, numbness/tingling, neurological issues, and so much more.
Myth: Lyme Disease can be quickly cured with a round of antibiotics.
TRUTH: If you treat right away (within a short window of weeks upon being bitten) there is a high chance at killing the bacteria within a month (not weeks) of antibiotic treatment. HOWEVER, if you are like me and my family, who went YEARS before being tested – “a few weeks” of antibiotics will not cure you by any means.
I am not a medical expert, but I AM A LYME DISEASE SURVIVOR, as are 2 of my children and my husband. Undiagnosed & late stage Lyme destroyed our immune systems, leaving us with a multitude of other compromised health issues, autoimmune disease, and mental health strains. So no, I am not a doctor, but I am a survivor, and I have lived through the horrors, and watched my children suffer. These are our truths.
I would not wish Lyme Disease on anyone, so I hope our story and these myths vs truths will help others out there.
Be well and be safe,
You can also follow my family’s Lyme journey via Instagram at: Instagram.com/MyLymeFamily
Join us every Tuesday, 11am cst (9am pst and 12pm est) in our Summerana: Tog Talk CLUB >> here <<