Ticks are gross. You don’t want to have to pull one off yourself or your dog. About a third of ticks carry lyme disease which has the potential for serious health and neurological ailments if left untreated. Bottom line – let’s keep those ticks off you and your pets. Here’s some natural DIY tick repellents which are based on science and actually work.
A study by the Tisserand Institute found that geranium oils are effective in repelling ticks. Another study examined 10 different kinds of geranium essential oil and discovered that they are effective in keeping ticks away.
Cedarwood essential oil is also proven to be an effective natural tick repellent. One study found that Virginian Cedarwood can repel and even kill ticks.
Our third defense against ticks is peppermint essential oil. This study shows that is is effective in repelling and even killing ticks.
Homemade Tick Repellent Recipe
- 25 drops Virginia cedarwood essential oil
- 10 drops peppermint essential oil
- 3 ounces distilled water
Mix ingredients in a spray bottle. Dark-colored bottles help to prevent the oils from breaking down and will allow your spray to last longer. Shake bottle prior to application and spray on clothing and shoes.
Essential oils are strong and can cause a reaction on the skin. Test on your skin in a small area first to ensure you won’t react.
What to do if you get bitten
To remove a tick, use any of the essential oils from the recipe. Simply dab a little oil right on the tick and wait 30 seconds. It will detach on its own and you can remove it. Pulling ticks off can result in their heads becoming embedded in the skin, so if you must pull it off, try to grab it as close to the skin as possible.
Wash the bite with an antiseptic and keep it clean. You can send the tick for testing if you want to know if it is infected by lyme. Lyme disease has many symptoms. Early symptoms include:
- Rash, sometimes shaped like a bull’s eye (Erythema migrans (EM rash))
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
If left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur:
- Severe headaches
- Additional EM skin rashes
- Facial paralysis (i.e. Bell’s palsy)
- Intermittent muscle, joint, tendon and bone aches
- Heart disorders (heart palpitations, abnormal heartbeat), known as Lyme carditis
- Neurological disorders (dizziness, mental confusion or inability to think clearly, and memory loss, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet)
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and less commonly in other joints such as the ankle, elbow and wrists.
In rare cases, Lyme disease can lead to death usually because of complications involving infection of the heart.
- Keep your grass cut short.
- Use cedar mulch around the perimeter and in your flower beds to repel ticks.
- When walking outside, pull your socks up over your pants.
- Run a lint roller over your clothing and boots to remove any loose ticks when you come back from a walk outdoors.
- Use tick repellent spray on you and your pets.
- Stick to paths as ticks love long grass.
- Check yourself and your pets for ticks whenever you’ve been outside.
The CDC recommends a mix of essential oils including rosemary, peppermint, thyme, geraniol, lemon grass and cedar.)