Lyme disease symptoms will differ between people depending on the stage of the infection. In some, symptoms may not be present.
These symptoms typically occur within 3-32 days of a tick bite.
A hallmark symptom of Lyme disease is a red rash, known as erythema migrans (EM). The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite and expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular- or oval-shaped rash. The rash often resembles a bull’s eye: a red ring surrounding a clear or bluish area with a red center. The size of the rash can range from dime-sized to the entire width of a person’s back. More than one ring may develop. Typically, the rash goes away within 4 weeks.
Lyme Disease Rash
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Although Lyme disease is often associated with this rash, many people do not have the rash right away or at all. Or they may have a red rash, without the bull's eye pattern. If you have other symptoms that you think might be due to Lyme disease, see your doctor; do not wait for a rash to appear.
Muscle and joint aches, headache, fever (a temperature of 100-103°F or 37.7-39.4°C), stiff neck, swollen glands, and fatigue may occur with or without the rash. These symptoms usually last about 5-21 days.
Note: All symptoms of early manifestation usually occur with the first rash or within about 6 weeks of it. They may go away on their own within a few weeks or months.
A history of Lyme disease, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymeDisease/Pages/history.aspx. Updated March 29, 2011. Accessed September 26, 2012.
Lyme disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114365/Lyme-disease. Updated August 15, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Lyme disease symptoms. Lyme Disease website. Available at: https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/symptoms. Accessed September 26, 2012.
Signs and symptoms of untreated lyme disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html. Updated July 26, 2012. Accessed September 26, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2015 by David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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