Lyme Disease Symptoms

Early Lyme

Early in the infection, many people experience a flu-like illness that may clear up without treatment. Some people get a rash around the site of the tick bite. Most of the time the rash is an ordinary red area, however if it is a bull’s-eye shape with a darker edge, it is a definite sign of Lyme disease and needs immediate treatment. Unfortunately this distinctive rash is uncommon.

To view Adult Lyme Symptoms, click here.

To view Children's Lyme Symptoms, click here.

Lyme Rash The Lyme rash starts a few days or even several weeks after the bite and then expands over a period of days to several inches across, perhaps with a central clearing. Untreated, it can last for weeks before fading, or it may fade and recur. The rash may have an irregular shape, blisters or a scabby appearance. Some rashes have a bruise-like appearance. Lyme rashes can mimic spider bite, ringworm, or cellulitis. Multiple, so-called “satellite” rashes may appear on different parts of the body. If you develop a rash, take a photo of it and see a doctor as soon as possible.

Your doctor may want you to have a blood test to confirm that the rash is actually a Lyme rash. People with early Lyme disease do not develop the antibodies necessary for the diagnostic tests for several weeks, and, early testing can give false negative results because of this. Although all medical treatment has some risk, treatment with antibiotics is relatively safe. Waiting for test results gives the spirochetes additional time to invade your body. Your doctor should explain the risks so you can make an informed choice.

Chronic Lyme

If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, the Lyme spirochetes can spread and may go into hiding in your body. Weeks, months or even years later you may have problems with your brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, heart and circulation, digestion, reproductive system, and skin. Symptoms may disappear even without treatment and different symptoms may appear at different times.

To view Common neurologic symptoms, click here.

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