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About a year ago I contracted a deadly tick-borne illness called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It was one of the scariest points of my life. I was worried that I would be left with life-long disabilities or even die. I am sharing my story in hopes that I can help others identify symptoms of tick-borne illnesses early and educate people about how to protect themselves from ticks. 

Symptoms 

My first symptom was a small rash around the tick bite. It looked like a few raised bumps and nothing like the “ring-rash” you always hear about associated with Lyme’s Disease. I dismissed it as irritated skin from me scratching the area. 

Over the next few days, I began to get headaches, soreness in my neck and shoulders, and my hands and feet felt “tingly”- as though they had fallen asleep and were starting to wake up. I was tired and just overall not feeling well. One night my face started twitching on the left-side and I finally realized that this was probably a tick-borne illness. 

Recovery

I went to Urgent Care. The doctor wrote me a prescription for Doxycycline and took blood to confirm the type of tick-borne illness. I am so thankful I went in when I did. Many people who get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever end up hospitalized and the condition can be lethal. I recovered quickly but for about 6-weeks after my diagnosis my hands and feet still had that tingly sensation. 

Where and when to check for ticks

Now our family is a lot more cautious about ticks. We do nightly tick checks any time we have been outside in long grass, hiking, or in areas we have previously found ticks (we have found them after visiting playgrounds and after playing in mowed grass). 

I recommend checking behind the ears, your hair (this has been the most common spot we have found ticks), between the legs, armpits, knee pits, belly button, your waistline, and in between your toes. Ticks tend to hide in places that are hard to find and they can be as small as a pinprick, so check carefully. 

What to look for if you get a tick bite

If you or one of your kids is bit by a tick, here’s what to do: 

  1. Remove the tick with tweezers. Make sure to remove all of it, including the head. We put ours in a plastic bag in our fridge with the date written on the bag for a few weeks just in case someone starts showing symptoms and we want to get the tick tested. 
  2. Clean the area
  3. Monitor the area for a rash
  4. Watch for symptoms such as fever, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and muscle pain
  5. If any of these symptoms arise, go to the doctor immediately

How I protect my family now

After I was diagnosed I was terrified of getting sick again, or worse, one of my children getting sick. Getting outdoors is very important to our family. Being outside helps all of us feel better- both physically and emotionally. I didn’t want to give that up just because of my fear of ticks, but I was definitely anxious about getting outdoors. I researched ways to prevent tick bites and discovered Sawyer Products’ Permethrin Fabric Treatment. 

Sawyer Products Permethrin Fabric Treatment

What I love about Permethrin Fabric Treatment is that it actually works to kill ticks instead of just repelling them. It can decrease the chances of being bitten by a tick by 73.6 percent by only treating your socks and shoes! It is a synthetic version of the Chrysanthemum flowers' natural insect repellent and is applied to clothes and gear as opposed directly onto skin. It definitely eased my mind to know that this was a safe and effective way to prevent my family from getting tick bites. Last year my family got 16 tick bites between the 5 of us in the spring. Once we began using permethrin, we only got 2- both when we were not wearing treated clothes.

How to use Permethrin Fabric Treatment

Permethrin Fabric Treatment is a spray you apply directly to clothes. The spray is effective for 6 weeks or 6 washings. I hang up our clothes on a clothesline or lay them out on our porch and spray each side. I treat 2 hiking outfits for every member of our family including socks. I also treat our shoes, hats, and backpacks. Our treated clothes become our designated hiking gear. If our outfits do not get too dirty, we will sometimes wear them again before washing to prolong the time between needing to treat our clothes. Each bottle of Permethrin Fabric Treatment covers 5 adult outfits. I usually can treat 2 adult outfits and 5 kids outfits with one bottle. 

My fear of tick-borne illnesses after contracting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever kept me from enjoying the outdoors. I am so grateful to Sawyer Products for creating a product that keeps my family safe and eases my anxiety. We are still diligent about checking for ticks and being aware if we get a tick bite, but thanks to Permethrin Fabric Treatment, that’s not as common anymore!

LAST UPDATED

October 4, 2023

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Amy Eastin

Amy is a Kansas City-based adventure mom to three kids. She loves exploring all that the middle of the USA has to offer, from hiking trails to family experiences, rivers, museums, restaurants, and more. Before kids, Amy traveled and lived around the world, rode camels, trekked through mountains, and occasionally danced with the locals. Now Amy is usually road-tripping with her kids (and sometimes her husband), getting outside, exploring Kansas City and the Midwest. Amy is passionate about promoting the Midwest as a travel destination and encouraging families to get outdoors with young kids.

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