The Doctor’s Office
Welcome to our first edition of The Doctor’s Office. I hope to use this segment to highlight common medical problems, and provide quick tips and information. My goal is to inform you just enough so that you stop google-ing symptoms on the internet! (Stay tuned for another post on that topic!) A few of our PGGs have had personal stories regarding Lyme, and so we thought it was important to discuss. So, without further ado, it’s time to talk about Lyme!
Do you know how Lyme Disease got its name? It was discovered in the Lyme, CT area in 1985. Prior to this, the medical community had no idea that such a thing existed. It was a great piece of research and epidemiology that uncovered the small, funny bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi that is the causative agent for this disease. Prior to this, patients with this disease were thought to have various types of arthritis or other problems. May is Lyme Disease awareness month, and we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a few key points!
- Prevention—Always the most important part!
- The bacteria that causes Lyme Disease is carried by deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), which are in turn carried by deer and mice. It is most commonly transmitted in the spring. If you are outdoors in wooded or grassy areas for any length of time, make sure to carefully check yourself & your kids for any ticks. Don’t forget about our furry friends! Ticks tend to prefer warmer areas like the back of the neck, pants line/groin area, armpits, back of knees, etc.
- Prevent Tick Bites!
- Use Bug Spray!
- Use a strong insect repellent! DEET is the best defense against most insects. There are multiple natural alternatives to using a chemical insect repellent, but the only one that has any substantial evidence that it works is DEET. While the idea of applying chemicals to our bodies isn’t that great, the idea of getting Lyme disease, West Nile, Zika, or any of the other diseases transmitted by insects is worse. There are varying degrees of the percentage of DEET in certain products, so be sure to check the label. A good tip is to put the spray on clothing vs. applying directly to the skin. For more information, check out the CDC fact sheet: file:///C:/Users/ASPIRE~1/AppData/Local/Temp/DEET-1.pdf
- Treat your Yard
- Consider treating your yard/outdoor area with an insect and tick repellent spray. Safer Brand is an organic version that can be purchased at a local Lowe’s or Home Depot, or you can contact local companies who provide this service.
- Dress Appropriately
- If you know you or your children will be outdoors or in wooded areas, wear long pants, socks, long sleeves, hats, and other protective clothing. Lighter colored clothing is helpful, so that you can see any ticks that might have made their way there!
- Knowledge is power!
- Be aware of what deer ticks look like. The earlier you find a tick and remove it, the simpler & more effective any treatment will be.
- Proper Removal
- If you identify a tick embedded in your skin:
- Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible with a pair of tweezers. Twist the tweezers a few times to loosen the head of the tick, then pull it out directly. If you see any tick material still in the skin, don’t panic. Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, the rest of the pieces will come out on their own.
- If possible, keep the tick! Your doctor should be able to send it to the lab for analysis. This will determine if the tick was carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme. If it does not, no need for any treatment!
- Your doctor may recommend that if you have had a tick bite from a confirmed deer tick in the spring when transmission is more likely, that you receive a preventive dose of antibiotic.
- Early Detection
- Lyme Disease is much easier to treat in earlier stages! If you have a tick bite, don’t hesitate to have it checked by your doctor! If you see any rash in the area of the bite, it needs to be evaluated and most likely you will need treatment.
- Early stage Lyme Disease is very easily treated with a course of antibiotics; typically a 21 day course.
- It’s important to prevent tick bites if possible, and have them evaluated early, because later stage Lyme Disease is more difficult to treat, and can be difficult to diagnose. The blood tests for Lyme are notoriously unreliable, and often not positive early in the disease.
- Be aware of the symptoms of early Lyme: tick bite, rash, and flu like symptoms including fevers, chills, tiredness, and muscle ache. Most of the time the rash is only present at the site of the tick bite, but occasionally there will be several areas of rash. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor.
The moral of the story? Prevention, prevention, prevention! True for any medical illness, but in particular this one! Know your facts, use insect repellent, remove any ticks you find, and have any bites evaluated early! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
For more information, here are some good websites:
Cara (with help from Johanna!)
This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. Through this site and linkages to other sites, we provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. Pretty Gritty Girls is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.