Written by Dr. Diane Mueller
The difference between a normal tick bite versus Lyme really comes down to the understanding that not all ticks carry Lyme Disease. Getting bit by a tick does not necessarily mean that the tick will transmit Lyme, however most ticks carry disease and a tick bite may mean you have had some sort of disease transmission occur, which may or may not be Lyme Disease.
While symptoms can be a great indicator of Lyme Disease transmission, some people do not experience symptoms in the early stage of disease. The problem with this is that the disease may lay dormant for many years (even decades) and then manifest as neurologic, cardiac, cognitive disease or simply as a really bad case of chronic fatigue syndrome.
For most people if they are going to experience acute symptoms, they occur within a month of transmission. However, since not everyone experiences symptoms acutely, it is worth getting thorough testing done. See our blog on Lyme Disease Testing to learn more about how to get tested not only for Lyme Disease, but for the variety of tick born (and insect born) illnesses.
It is also good to note that a couple preliminary studies show that Lyme Disease may be carried by mosquitos and fleas. Therefore, making assumptions that Lyme is only transmitted via ticks may not be correct. This disease is much more prevalent than once was originally thought. Lyme Disease was originally discovered in Lyme, Connecticut by Dr. Alan Steere due to his work on children with juvenile arthritis. Less than a decade later, Willy Burgorfer discovered the bacteria in ticks. We have learned so much about Lyme Disease since the 70s, however we are really just beginning to peel back the layers in medicine to truly understand this complicated disease.
At our medical clinic, most of the people that we find positive for Lyme Disease through testing do not remember a tick bit or ever having the classic Lyme Disease Rash.
The good news is there are things you can do if you are a nature lover to help to prevent tick bite. Ixodes scapularis (deer tick that carries Lyme) has been shown to be repelled amazingly by the essential oil Texas Cedarwood. Using this as bug spray can help lessen the likelihood of tick bites. [i]
In addition, treating clothing and sneakers with permethrin has been shown to reduce tick bites by up to 99%.[ii] Permethrin is an insecticide and is classically not great for the lungs to breath in. Therefore, unless you are in a situation where you could have tons of ticks crawling on you at any given moment, it may be better to use Texas Cedarwood, which is also effective but less potentially harmful for the lungs.
[i] Jennifer Hostetler, Laboratory Bioassay to Assess the Repellency and Efficacy
of One Direct Spray Product against Multiple Species, in Terms of Knockdown
and Mortality, i2LResearch USA, Inc., July 2018.
[ii] Nathan J. Miller, Erin E. Rainone, Megan C. Dyer, and Liliana Gonzalez, “Tick Bite Protection with Permethrin-Treated Summer-Weight
Clothing,” Journal of Medical Entomology 48, no. 2 (January 2011): 327–33, doi:10.1603/me10158.
“Permethrin Insect Repellent Treatment for Clothing Gear and Tents,” Sawyer
Products, sawyer.com/products/ permethrin-insect-repellent-treatment/.
“Knockdown Testing,” Insect Shield, www.insectshield.com/Knockdown-Testing.aspx. Accessed March 11, 2018.
Meagan F. Vaughn and Steven R. Meshnick, “Pilot Study Assessing the Effectiveness of Long- Lasting Permethrin-Impregnated Clothing for the
Prevention of Tick Bites,” Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 11, no. 7 (July 2011): 869–75, doi:10.1089/vbz.2010.0158.
Sullivan, Kristin M. Sullivan, Alison Poffley, Sheana Funkhouser, et al., “Bioabsorption and Effectiveness of Long-Lasting Permethrin-Treated Uniforms
over Three Months among North Carolina Outdoor Workers,” Parasites & Vectors 12, no. 1 (January 23, 2019): 52, doi:10.1186/ s13071-019-3314-1
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“Dr. Mueller’s approach to medicine is refreshing! There is only so much you can do with western medicine and in my life I was needing a new approach. By addressing the whole body, nutritional diet factors, environmental factors, blood work, and incorporating ideas I had not previously known, I was able to break through with my conditions. I am not only experiencing less pain in my life, but through the process of healing guided by Dr. Diane Mueller, I am now happy to say I have more consciousness surrounding how I eat, what to eat and when things are appropriate. Living by example Dr. Mueller has a vibrancy that makes you want to learn and know more about your body and overall health. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for new answers, a new approach to health, or in need of freedom from pain and limitations.”