As a Californian that never really encountered ticks except for the two times we found them on our dogs in over 30 years, ticks always scared me! With things like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever on the rise, it is more important than ever to protect ourselves and our children from tick bites. With all the toxic chemicals in bug sprays, my biggest concern is how to prevent ticks naturally. I want to prevent tick bites, but I also don’t want to douse my family in harsh chemicals normally found in insect repellents. So in this article, I’m going to give you everything I know about keeping ticks off your kids, yourself, and your dog naturally.
But first, let me tell you about my recent encounter with a tick on one of my kids.
Last month when we were staying on a farm in the Florida panhandle in our RV for a month, my daughter asked me about something on her neck. She thought it was a scab and said she had been “flipping it” back and forth all day. Gross. I looked closely, my eyes widened, and I tried not to panic: it was a small tick. I didn’t tell her right away and just told her to hold on (luckily, she was on her tablet and pretty distracted) while I ran to get tweezers.
I did my best to get it out cleanly, but it was so tiny, and I was pretty sure the head got stuck. Insert an emoji of me gaging and panicking. I cleaned the bite with alcohol, put on a generous amount of Earthley Black Drawing Salve, and covered it with a bandaid overnight. I watched it closely over the next few weeks, cleaning it with alcohol and applying colloidal silver anytime it looked like it was getting irritated or might be infected. There was a little black dot in the bump (probably it’s head) for a while, and then one day, it was sticking out, and I was able to pick it out. Luckily her body was able to push it out on it’s own and we didn’t have any issues!
Now it’s been about a month, we sent the tick out for testing, and it came back as a Lone Star tick with no diseases (thankfully!), and my daughter is doing just fine. She’s even told me that if it happens again “don’t tell me because I might get scared.” Ha!
A couple of weeks later, I found one crawling on me, and we inspected our dog and found 16 (!!) ticks on her. She had gotten out of the pasture she was in and was in some brush for a few hours, and I became a pro at checking for ticks and picking them off.
Needless to say, after that, I dove into how to prevent ticks naturally and remove them safely. Keep in mind, I’m not a professional, I’m just a mom of 3 who has now encountered way more ticks than I’d like, who has spent hours researching and figuring out what works best, and I want to share that with you.
So if you want to learn about preventing ticks naturally, how to keep ticks off your kids, my recommendations for tick products, how to safely remove a tick, if I recommend sending ticks for testing, etc., keep reading!
Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice. I am not a doctor or medical professional. I’m simply sharing what I’ve learned and what works for us.
Tips to Prevent Ticks Naturally
The most important thing is to be aware of the area you’re in, like if you’re in wooded areas and it’s tick season. If there is, there is a lot you can do to prevent them from biting, even if they are around. Here are my best tips for preventing ticks:
- Cover up so they have to work harder to get to your skin. Socks, pants, long sleeves are all great especially if you can wear tighter-fitting clothing that is harder for them to get into.
- Wear light-colored clothing so they are easier to spot.
- Tuck your pants into your socks and your shirts into your pants.
- Try to stay out of tall grass or leaf piles where ticks are likely to be hanging out.
- Keep a lint roller in your car or house and lint roll your body, and your kids, to catch any stray ticks that may be hanging out on your clothes. You may think you’d see them, but some are very small and hard to spot.
- Do a tick check, checking your body and your family for ticks all over. Popular spots for ticks are in your waistband, neck, hairline, etc.
- Take a shower when you get home to wash off any unattached ticks. This is also a good time to do a tick check.
- Check your pets. All of them! Maybe your dog is the only one who goes outside. Definitely check him/her. But don’t forget to check your indoor cats who may have acquired a tick that your dog brought in.
- Dry all clothing on high heat once you get home to kill any ticks that may be hiding inside.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep the air in your home dry. Studies have shown that ticks live less than 24 hours in humidity of 60% or less, so if they do get inside, they should die pretty quickly.
- Use natural tick sprays or essential oils. This is the one we use now, but I’ll give some more recommendations below.
How to Keep Ticks Out of Your Yard Naturally
If you live in a wooded area with ticks, your best bet to prevent ticks naturally is to simply keep the tick population down! But how can you do that? Here are some tips:
- Keep grass and brush trimmed
- Clean up leaf piles or at least don’t leave them in the shade as this is their preferred habitat
- Get chickens or guinea fowl. They love to eat ticks! Bonus: if you have wild turkeys, you’re already doing well.
- Plant fragrant plants that deter ticks like peppermint.
- Create a barrier around your home/property of rocks or woodchips that will make it harder for ticks to cross over
- Keep your wood pile in the sun
How to Keep Ticks off Dogs Naturally
Ticks love dogs! And it is so hard to find a tick on dogs because they do such a good job of digging deep into their fur. If you want to keep your dog free of ticks naturally, here are some suggestions:
- Keep your yard trimmed and free of brush and debris, especially in the shade where ticks like to hide.
- Give long haired dogs a haircut during tick season
- Limit your dogs time outside
- Use a lint roller on your dog anytime they come inside to catch any stray ticks
- Do tick checks daily to catch them early
- Spray them with a natural tick repellent that’s safe for dogs like this one.
Honestly, if you live in a tick prone area and your dog goes outside, they’re going to get a tick once in a while. It’s nothing to panic about! Just remove it with the Ticked Off tick remover and do regular tick checks.
Recommended Products for Ticks & Tick Bites
If you’re like me and ready to stock up on everything you need so you’re ready to go at all times, here are my recommendations:
- Yaya Organics All Natural Extra Strength Tick Repellent (DEET Free & safe for kids/pets)
- The Original Ticked Off Tick Remover (3 pack so you can keep one at home, one in the car, etc)
- Earthly Black Drawing Salve to apply after removing a tick.
- Homeopathic Ledum Palustre 30c
- Immune-supporting supplements like Vitamin C and elderberry
What do I do if I find a tick in my house?
It’s natural to feel itchy and squirmy if you find a tick in the house. Are there more? Where did it come from? First things first, check your pets, vacuum, and clean up so you can find any lingering ticks.
Now, let me make you feel a little better. I found a tick on my arm in bed while putting the baby to sleep (that was a close one!), and then another walking across the floor, before I thought to check my dog and find 16 ticks on her.
In my frantic googling, I found plenty of research that said that most ticks will not survive even close to 24 hours indoors. Why? Because ticks need 80% humidity or higher to survive. Without that, they will dry out and die.
So yes, feel the heeby jeebies for a bit, but after about a day feel comfortable that if there are any, they probably have dried up and died off unless your home is extremely humid. If so, I highly recommend getting a good dehumidifier to prevent mold, etc. This is the one we use in our RV (but it’s rated for 1,500+ sq ft and they have bigger ones)
Essential Oils to Repel Ticks
If you have a lot of essential oils, you can certainly use them to prevent ticks! In fact, the natural tick repellent I use is made of essential oils. I just find it easier to buy than to make. However, these essential oils are great for deterring ticks and making natural tick repellents at home:
How to Safely Remove a Tick from Your Child
There are so many resources out there that give you instructions on different ways to remove a tick, but honestly? Most of them aren’t worth the risk.
The best way to remove a tick quickly and easily? I LOVE the Ticked Off Tick Remover! After picking 16+ ticks off my dog, I bought it, and when we found a few more on her, I was able to remove them much more easily. Plus they didn’t fall apart/break in half (gross, I know) as often as they did when I was using tweezers.
Removal with Ticked Off Tick Remover
- Clean the Ticked Off Tick Remover with alcohol
- Slide it around the tick’s body as close to the skin/head as possible
- Slide the tick remove forward until the tick detaches
Tick Removal with Tweezers
- Clean your tweezers with alcohol
- Grab the tick as close to the skin/mouth as possible and pull steadily, but slowly. Avoid squeezing its belly because you don’t want it to eject its stomach contents.
- Pull until the tick is out. Inspect it to make sure you got the whole thing. If it’s moving, you got it all. If it’s dead, make sure the head is still attached and didn’t get stuck under the skin.
What Do I Do After Tick Removal?
Once you have the tick out, there are a few things you might want to do. Here is my personal protocol:
- Clean the bite area with alcohol.
- Put the tick in a plastic bag with the date and throw it in the freezer in case you decide to get it tested (right away or later if symptoms start).
- If the head got stuck, clean your tweezers with alcohol again and see if you can get it out. It’s easier said than done, I know.
- Apply a thick coating of Earthley’s Black Drawing Salve Stick and put a bandaid over it overnight, then remove and wipe off in the morning.
- Start some supplements. I like Homeopathic Ledum Palustre 30c 3x a day for a week plus immune-supporting supplements like Vitamin C and elderberry for at least a week.
- Check the bite daily to see how it progresses. If it seems like it might be infected, I put some colloidal silver on it for a few days.
- Watch for symptoms like fever, bullseye rash, etc. which could indicate a tick-borne illness.
Should You Save a Tick for Testing?
We do! We sent the tick we found on my daughter to Ticknology a few days later and got results quickly. We just wanted the peace of mind of knowing if we should be looking for any symptoms. I know if we didn’t get it tested, I would be on the edge of my seat, assuming the worst. But since we saw it didn’t carry anything, I knew we had nothing to worry about.
However, if you live where you find ticks on you often, testing them all might not make sense. All the ticks we’ve found in the house or on the dog, we throw in the freezer and save for a month in case anyone comes down with symptoms, and we want to get them tested. If not, we toss them in the trash.
Symptoms to Look for After Tick Bite
After a tick bite, it’s a good idea to be on alert for a few weeks to see if any symptoms pop up like:
- Joint Pain
- Rashes (in particular, the bullseye rash)
If any of these symptoms arise, you should immediately send your tick in for testing and contact your doctor. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t know much about ticks or Lyme, or other tick-borne diseases, so you might need to look for a more tick-literate doctor.
Hopefully, this has helped you understand how to prevent ticks naturally without harsh, dangerous chemicals and made you feel a bit more prepared for encountering ticks. It’s certainly not my favorite thing, but now that I have a little experience, it’s not quite as scary.