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Tick, tick, tick

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | May 16, 2018

Once you find that first tick of the season crawling on or biting you, you seem to feel them even when they aren’t there.

I took off three ticks last year; one a deer tick, the other two, dog ticks. We are cautioned to look for ticks every day and we hear that they crawl around on you for some hours before they decide on a spot and sink their teeth in — or whatever they use — but that you won’t feel them, which is so important to always check for them.

I’m here to tell you that the "won’t feel them" part is not always true.

One night last week, while browsing on the computer, I felt my ankle start to throb with a sharp pain. I moved my foot up and down to see if it would stop and found my ankle was actually swollen and red — and had a tick thoroughly attached. It wasn’t swollen so had not been there long but was not easy to get off as he, or she for all I know, was determined to hang on.

I did win that round and stuck him — let’s call it “it” — in a baggie and looked at him with a magnifying glass. Yep. It was a deer tick.

Meanwhile, my ankle kept throbbing with the twinges of pain. First, I put hydrogen peroxide on it, thinking to kill any venom, but it did no good, as for the swelling and throbbing and redness. I tried essential oils, rubbing alcohol. Nothing worked. The redness was not the famous "bulls-eye," which wouldn’t appear right away anyway, but a general redness you get from, say, a spider bite.

Finally, I got out my little baggie of deactivated charcoal, which I hate to use as it really is messy stuff to work with. It’s fine soot-black powder flies up in a puff and gets on everything and is hellaciously hard to clean up. But it’s a folk remedy for tick bite and I have used it before. I moistened a cotton pad with some magnesium oil that was on the counter, to help control the dry powder and taped it on my ankle. It worked fast, taking down the swelling and throbbing.

Since then, I’ve been keeping a watch on it for the bulls-eye. Nothing yet. However, information on deer tick bites says it doesn’t always show up even if the tick is carrying Lyme, so I will watch for any of the other symptoms that include fatigue, fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, to begin with. If not treated early on, there are a plethora of other, progressively worse symptoms that can debilitate you quite drastically. There are too many to list here but everything you’d rather not know is on YouTube.

I mixed up my favorite tick-bug mixture, a combination of two essential oils: cedarwood oil and peppermint oil — eight drops each to each cup of water in a spray bottle. I use this on my skin, a bit in my hair etc. I also spritz my dog with it when he goes out. Actually, he hates the spray so I put it on my hands and rub him down.

For the yard/garden/anywhere outside, I get the permethrin to treat a couple pair of pants, a pair of socks and old shoes and the outside of a hat. I picked up a big men’s white shirt at GoodWill and treated that. One treatment will last six weeks or six washings, whichever comes first. A bit pricey but far less than treating Lyme Disease.

If I’m going off into the woods, I add a bandanna treated with the good ole Woodsman’s Dope. Most people find the smell of Woodsman’s Dope less than pleasant but I don’t mind it. It reminds me of my childhood days so long ago up on the Ridge. Everyone used Woodsman Dope back then. (The idea of putting it on a bandanna around the neck is that mosquitoes, for one, are attracted to the carbon dioxide you breath out. I think Woodsman’s Dope would cover that.)

Take care and don’t let the bugs keep you from enjoying our super great Maine summers.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.

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