I shared here about how to remove a tick safely, but what is a naturally minded person to do after a tick has been removed? Are there any natural remedies for tick bites?
I told my husband he would have been naturally selected out of the human race had he been born in the south before air conditioning!
The man sweats like a faucet, and some of our children are taking after him as well, so when we spent a July day walking around New Orleans and the temps were in the high 90s, we were a pretty exhausted, soggy bunch by dinnertime.
The beignets were wearing off and the bellies were talking, so we found a restaurant that was supposed to be kid-friendly according to a local mom blog…then ironically we noticed that if you eat in the bar, you get apps for half off!
We decided to share a bunch of apps, and it was an amazing experience both because of the Cajun food and alligator sausage and also because Paul, the bartender, was the most accommodating server we’ve seen in a long time.
He was so kind when we broke a glass 2 minutes after telling him we wanted all our kids to have real glasses instead of disposables and clearly was worried that our kids’ feet might be hurt by the broken glass. He gave us budget-friendly recommendations for the rest of our week and had such fast service and a pleasant disposition that we never wanted to leave (except that our kids were now shivering, having also inherited my propensity for getting chilly in A/C, poor kids!).
I’m a huge believer in great customer service, the old-fashioned way, and in bringing a positive spirit to whatever job you happen to find yourself in, which is why this server got a whale of a tip…and why I cracked up SO much about what it took to wake up a sleepy, bored UPS customer service rep the time I mailed in a tick that bit my son. Ha!
If you’re unlucky enough to get bitten by a tick, however, customer service is the last thing on your mind. Here are the questions you should be asking ASAP (after you safely get that tick OUT!):
- What kind of tick is it?
- How long was it possibly feeding on the human host?
- Should I take antibiotics?
- What can I can do at home to remedy the tick bite?
- Should I get the tick tested?
Are Antibiotics Necessary for a Tick Bite?
Truly, with the risks of antibiotics for a human, avoiding Lyme Disease is the only reason I’d consider prophylactic antibiotics.
When considering antibiotics, some will say that the amount of time the tick was feeding is a very important metric to consider. Others will say they contracted Lyme after a tick was biting them for just mere minutes. So again, much controversy and this is totally up to you.
For me, as a mom, not a doctor or someone who is medically trained (by the way, this is a good time to mention that I’m just sharing my experience with a little bit of research, not actually medical advice, and you are definitely responsible for your own choices), my opinion was that if the tick had not been in for very long, the transmission of disease potential was much lower.
We were fairly certain we caught this tick within a few hours, and it was clear that he was not much engorged so he hadn’t had much time to feed on my son. This is all very disgusting to think about, but at least we were on the right side of the numbers, in my opinion.
Our pediatrician agreed as well that duration of feeding is an important consideration and that our numbers were on the safer side. We decided not to use antibiotics on this occasion.
Had it been a deer tick with a high incidence of carrying Lyme, and not a dog tick, known for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, I might have made a different decision.
Had the tick been feeding on my son for an entire night, I might have made a different decision.
Getting antibiotics is definitely something to consider and speak with your doctor about if you are in an area where Lyme is prevalent, and if you know the type of tick that bit you is a carrier of Lyme, like a deer tick in Michigan.
The risk of antibiotics, of course, is that your gut bacteria are demolished, but you can rebuild gut bacteria much easier than you can rebuild from chronic Lyme disease. Antibiotics are most effective in the first 72 hours.
As it was, I am 100% sure I made the right call on avoiding antibiotics for this tick bite (see below for how), but I still wanted to hedge my bets by doing everything I could to support his immune system.
So let’s talk about natural ways to address a tick bite immediately after removing the tick.
Tick Bite Natural Treatment: What To Do After a Tick Bite
Because we were nearly certain our tick was a dog tick without a high incidence of Lyme, my goal was simply to be cautious and do some antibacterial actions internally and externally. The main home remedies for tick bites to try are an antibiotic salve, homeopathic remedies, vitamins c & d, and olive leaf extract.
We used Nutrasporin from Third Rock immediately at the site of the bite. Nutrasporin is infused with silver oxide, which eliminates the breeding potential for bad bacteria. Who knows if this did anything, but it sure made me feel better as a mom.
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Homeopathic Remedies for a Tick Bite
I immediately got on social media and collected advice from other moms and experts in my network, and we used homeopathic remedy Ledum Palustre for my son’s tick bite.
Ledum is used as a first-aid remedy to prevent infection, and for all puncture wounds including insect stings and animal bites, and it has been recommended as a homeopathic remedy for Lyme disease for decades.
Homeopathics work without side effects, and 2-4 “little balls” are taken under the tongue. Our goal was to administer about every 4 hours, but we weren’t successful in remembering quite that often.
Vitamin C & D
I already had Vitamin C on hand for my own functional treatment and felt completely comfortable giving Paul 2 per day to boost his immune system. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) appears to have positive effects when treating Lyme, too.
We also use Vitamin D regularly as a family anyway, although not usually in the summer when natural D via the sun is plentiful.
Olive Leaf Extract
We already had Olive Leaf capsules on hand in ye olde graveyard of formerly used supplements.
Olive Leaf is a natural product from the leaves of the olive tree, and it’s said to be antioxidant, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral, without killing beneficial bacteria.
Again, this seemed like a safe way to hedge my bets if we lost the gamble against a tick-borne disease, so Paul took 2 every day as well, until we knew for sure he didn’t need to. I felt that we should be on the offensive immediately (or is that the defensive?) because of the importance of using prophylactic antibiotics in the first few days.
I later found out that olive leaf is recommended along with cat’s claw, garlic, burdock root, sheep sorrel, sweet wormwood, goldenseal, and grapefruit seed extract, in the case of a tick bite.
Although I felt confident in using some natural remedies at home after this tick bite, it was still such a frightening experience that I wanted to get the tick tested.
Did I miss any other home remedies for tick bites? If so, tell me in the comments!
Should You Test a Tick for Lyme Disease?
My friend Dr. Elisa Song, a holistic pediatrician in California shared this site with me. She said for $50 you can get your tick tested for all sorts of diseases, and since this was the first time this has ever happened, we decided to go for it. She also has a very comprehensive post on what to do if you’re bitten by a tick!
We had already put the tick in a glass jar and stuck it in the freezer, so it was dead but in good shape, and we followed the directions on the website to package it up.
I took it to the UPS Store and paid for second-day air, which was about $28 from Michigan to Massachusetts. 😮
It was such a sense of relief, however, when the report came back, and the tick was “clean.” No evidence of disease, so we knew we had made the right decision on avoiding antibiotics for the tick bite:
This part grossed me out though:
When a tick was on my son’s arm the very next week, my husband and I looked at each other like, “Oh my goodness, we can’t spend $78 every time a tick gets on one of our kids!”
So you should get your ticket tested, in my opinion, if the following conditions are met:
- You live in an area where tick-borne disease is prevalent
- The type of tick you have is one that carries a scary disease. For us, the dog tick usually only carries Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, so I wouldn’t get one like that tested again.
- The tick was feeding for a longer amount of time
- Any sort of rash shows up on the body, especially a classic “bullseye rash” that is indicative of Lyme
- You are definitely considering prophylactic antibiotics and just want to be sure
Tick Testing Options
When I mailed the tick off at the UPS Store the young man behind the counter was moving slowly and not interacting with me much – kind of in a sleepy state.
And then he asked the requisite question, “What’s in the package?”
I said, “A tick that bit my son,” matter of factly, and suddenly his eyebrows shot up.
He started moving more quickly, and he said, “Oh, I think I will double envelope this just to make sure!” His reaction was pretty funny to see and I know that most people don’t like the idea of a tick biting anyone they love.
In Michigan, we’ve discovered that if a deer tick (only) bites you the Public Health Department will actually test it for free. But, and this is very important, the tick has to still be alive for them to test it.
There are instructions here and you can order a kit to have on hand just in case. You better believe that we have one at home in case we ever encounter a deer tick on one of our family members!
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Bottom Line: Can You Naturally Treat Tick Bites at Home?
For me, Lyme disease is almost up there with cancer as the scariest things I never want my kids to have to deal with in their whole entire lives.
Therefore, we have been exceptionally diligent about doing tick checks whenever they are called for as well as doing our best to prevent tick bites by using natural insect repellent when we are outside. We have a favorite out of over a dozen we’ve tested that ticks generally run from. (Yes, of course, my son did not have that on the day he was traipsing through the forest and had a tick bite him — but he’s very on top of it now after the second scare left him shaking!)
If we were to be spending a lot of time in an area that we knew was infested with ticks, it would be worth weighing the risks of tick-borne disease with the risk of the chemical ingredients in conventional bug spray.
If a tick bites a member of your family, it’s a big question whether you treat medically, treat naturally at home, or just pull it out and move on with your life.
I think the risk is large in some areas and with some kind of ticks, and the risk is larger if the tick has been feeding on the human for a very long time. So it’s a question that each family needs to ask an answer for themselves.
However, in our situation, I did feel very confident naturally treating the tick bite at home using these strategies.
I would also end by saying that you should carefully watch your child or whoever was bitten by the tick over the next few weeks, and at the first sign of fever, fatigue, malaise, or particularly that classic bull’s-eye pattern at the site of the bite or any sort of rash anywhere on the body, you call up your pediatrician or family doctor and have a serious conversation about whether antibiotics would be helpful at that moment.
Keeping a close watch is very important and it’s equally important to know that not all Lyme-disease-ridden-tick bites cause a bull’s-eye rash, only 70-80% of them. So ultimately, the decision is one that has to be made with as much education as you can muster, and then a gut feeling and mother’s intuition.
If you’ve gotten this far in the post, I wish you the best and sincerely hope that Lyme disease is not something that you ever have to encounter, even behind the desk at the UPS Store!
If you do think or know you have chronic Lyme, one of the foremost experts in the field is Dr. Jay Davidson, whose wife’s Lyme Disease since age 7 nearly killed her. He argues that after opening the drainage pathways, that clearing out parasites, is the best thing to tackle before moving on to mold, metals, candida, etc. Fascinating stuff!