Protect Your Own Health from Tick Borne Diseases.

6 Oct

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing. You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do. In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you, and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over both the quality and length of your life.

Today we are tackling a problem, but first a question: What do Evander Holyfield and tick-born infections have in common? They can land you flat on your back very quickly. And this year tick-ologists are predicting a particularly intense bite season. Reports of Lyme disease — a nasty rash and potential arthritis and much more including mental dysfunction caused by ticks that transmit Borrelia bacteria — could hit record numbers.

The reason? Not the mild winter, that’s a myth. It’s the lack of acorns! Turns out, when the acorn crop is down (it is), then there are fewer of the ticks’ favorite meal plan out and about: white-footed mice. We kid you not! Without as many little rodents running around, the ticks cruise for a substitute: you.

So, what’s a nature-loving, pet-hugging person to do? Here’s your basic 6-point plan to take the bite out of tick season:

#1 DEET U– Use insect repellant with DEET. Insect repellents with 20 to 30 percent DEET repel ticks. Follow the instructions and apply carefully, avoiding your hands, eyes, and mouth. We’re convinced the benefits far outweigh the risks, if there are any risks at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does say young kids and pregnant women should avoid the pesticide. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD, for para-menthane-3,8-diol, the synthesized version) is another option. Or, you can always treat your clothing with products containing a chemical called permethrin, applying it to the outsides of boots, pants, socks, and tents. It should remain active through several washings.

#2 HIDE– Cover up with long sleeves and pants tucked into your socks when in grassy or wooded areas and wear light colored clothing to spot any hop-alongs.

#3 CHANGE YOUR LOCATION—Stay away from places where ticks are likely to lurk. The more you can avoid wooded or heavily shrubbed areas, the better — especially ones with high grass and leaf litter. If you’re planning to go hiking in the woods, wear long pants, do the nerdy thing of wearing socks that go over your pants—two pairs of socks are best, and do a thorough tick check after your outing. Repellents are not the only way to guard against ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests making your yard a “tick-safe zone” with smart landscaping changes like a three-foot barrier of wood chips between forested areas and your lawn.

#4. INSPECT, GET NAKED SO YOU DON’T BRING THEM INSIDE, & USE WATER — Shower when you get home and you may wash be able to wash them off (ticks don’t always bite immediately). Even the best efforts may not be enough to stop ticks, so be sure to thoroughly check your clothes, your body, and especially your pets when you get home from an outing. Showering soon after you return can help you locate ticks or tick bites.

#5 HEAT IT UP, BABY—Once you get naked (take your cloths off before you are far into your home) and inspect your body, take all cloths and put them in a hot dryer. Drying clothes on high heat for an hour can kill any ticks that may have burrowed into your clothing.

#6 DON’T FORGET ROVER — Check you pets! Ticks hidden in fur and hair can easily infect you — and your family’s best friend.

#7 KNOW YOUR DOC’S NUMBER — If you ever see signs of Lyme disease (like a bull’s-eye-shaped rash around a bite), consult your doctor as soon as possible. Faster treatment makes a difference in regards to LYME disease putting you out of commission or not.

Thanks for reading. And feel free to send more questions, you can always send us questions at, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).

Young Dr. Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice.
This article is of the opinion of its author.
Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week) on twitter @YoungDrMike.

Feel free to continue to send questions to You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week). The YOU docs have a new web site: and its companion the only site we know of where you can find skin products proven to meet the claims (opened for business on June 1st, 2012), and a new book: YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens.

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on Saturdays from 5-7 p.m . E-mail him questions at He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including : YOU Staying Young and YOU: The Owner’s Manual. He is Chief Medical Consultant to the two year running Emmy award winning Dr Oz show– The Dr Oz show is #2 nationally in daytime TV. See what all the fun is about, and what he, The Enforcer, is up to. Check local listings or log onto for channel and time. And for more health info, log onto anytime.

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