Ticks are not only unsettling to find on your person, but can transmit potentially deadly diseases like Lyme disease through their bites. Pure or diluted lavender essential oil is not a reliable way to repel or kill ticks. There are also no clinical studies done that endorse lavender oil for getting rid of ticks. Despite the lack of evidence, lavender oil is often sold as a tick repellent or tick killer.
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Lavender oil is placed on the pulse points like perfume on people or mixed in with body lotion to try to deter ticks. Some animal rescue organizations such as the People for Animal Welfare use one drop of pure lavender oil in between a dog's shoulder blades to discourage ticks. However, a more reliable repellent known for human skin or clothing is DEET, short for N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using repellents that contain at least 20 percent DEET.
Always check people or pets for ticks when they come in from outdoors. Use tweezers to grab onto the body of a tick as close to the skin as possible and pull out. The tick needs to be killed. Ticks do need to breathe and can drown in a bottle of lavender oil, but less expensive rubbing alcohol will also drown them.
Rather than relying on lavender oil or even DEET to repel ticks, it is much better to avoid coming into contact with ticks. Pets should be given tick preventative oral or spot-on treatment medication. People need to wear light-colored clothes, long plants, socks and shoes when hiking in the woods or anywhere with long plants where ticks may hide and wait to jump on a warm-blooded passer-by. Keeping the lawn mowed and removing leaf piles will also discourage ticks in the yard.
Lavender oil should never be used on cats. Many essential oils can be toxic for cats, including lavender essential oil. Cat livers lack the necessary enzymes in order to safely metabolize many types of essential oils, including lavender oil. Some cats may even get ill with vomiting or lack of coordination just from smelling pure lavender oil, according to Dr. Arnold Plotnick.
- The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station; Tick Management Handbook; Kirby C. Stafford III
- People for Animal Welfare: Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes -- Prevention and Treatment; Robin Tierney
- Cat Channel; Lavender Oil; Dr. Arnold Plotnick
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Stop Ticks
- Cornell University; Pesticide Information Profile; DEET; October 1997
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Tickborne Diseases; June 17, 2008
- University of Delaware Cooperative Extension: Tick Control; Dewey M. Caron; 2004