Munson Health
 
Lyme Disease

Back to Document

by Calvagna M
 

Symptoms

The symptoms of Lyme disease will be different in each person. They can also range from mild to severe.
The first sign may be a red rash. The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite. It will then spread over the next few days or weeks to form a circular or oval-shaped rash. Sometimes the rash resembles a bull's eye with a red ring around a clear area with a red center. The rash may cover a small dime-sized area or a wide area of the body.
Lyme Disease Rash
IMAGE
This is an example of a Lyme disease rash shaped like a bull's eye. It may not always be this shape, nor will a rash always appear.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Early Infection

In the first 3-30 days after the bite, if the infection has not spread you may notice:
  • Rash
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have Lyme disease, even if you have spent time outdoors. See your doctor right away if you have these symptoms and think you have been exposed to a tick.

Late Infection

Symptoms can develop in months or years after the tick bite in untreated infections. These symptoms may occur regularly or intermittently and include:
  • Painful inflammation of the joints (arthritis)
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Shooting pains, numbness, and tingling
Less common symptoms of late Lyme disease include:
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Eye problems, such as conjunctivitis
  • Chronic skin disorders
  • Limb weakness
  • Persistent motor coordination problems
 

Prevention

Try the following to help prevent Lyme disease:

Tick Management

Deer ticks are unlikely to pass the infection unless they are in contact with the skin for at least 24 hours. After spending time outdoors in risk area:
  • Do a full-body check for ticks at the end of a day spent outdoors. Consider bathing or showering within 2 hours of coming indoors.
  • Check your child for ticks. Make sure to check for hidden areas like the hair, around the ears, or behind the knees.
  • Check pets and gear for ticks.
  • Put clothes worn outdoors in the dryer for 20 minutes. This will kill any unseen ticks.
If you do find a tick, remove it by doing the following:
  • Use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick by the head, as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull directly outward. Use gentle but firm forces. Do not twist the tick out. Try not to crush the tick's body or handle it with bare fingers. This can spread the infection.
  • Wipe the site with an antiseptic to prevent infection.
There are some steps that do not help. They may cause more problems.
  • Do not put a hot match to the tick.
  • Do not cover the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, or any other substances.
If you have been bitten by a deer tick, especially if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common, you should watch for a rash to appear. It may take about one month after the bite for the rash to show.

Medication

If you have a tick bite and live in a high-risk area, your doctor may recommend a dose of the antibiotic doxycycline. This may reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease if taken within 72 hours after a tick bite. However, this antibiotic can have serious side effects in children less than 8 years old. This prevention step is only used in people older than 8 years.
The risk of catching Lyme disease after a single tick bite is low. Many experts do not recommend preventive antibiotic treatment.
 

RESOURCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

Lyme Disease Foundation
http://www.lyme.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Communicable Disease Control
http://www.gov.mb.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

 

References


Diaz JH. The diagnosis, management, and prevention of common ectoparasitic infections. J La State Med Soc. 2006;158:90-98.


Loewen PS, Marra CA, et al. Systematic review of the treatment of early Lyme disease. Drugs. 1999;57:157-173.


Lyme disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme. Updated July 26, 2012. Accessed September 26, 2012.


Lyme disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated June 29, 2012. Accessed September 26, 2012.


Lyme disease. lymedisease.org. Available at: http://www.lymedisease.org/lyme101/lyme%5Fdisease/lyme%5Fdisease.html. Accessed September 26, 2012.


Lyme disease. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymedisease/Pages/lymeDisease.aspx. Updated March 29, 2011. Accessed September 26, 2012.


Lyme disease. American Academy of Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease.html. Updated January 2010. Accessed September 26, 2012.


Nadelman RB, Nowakowski J, et al. Prophylaxis with single dose doxycycline for the prevention of Lyme disease after an Ixodes Scapularis tick bite. N Engl J Med. 2001;345:79-84.


Weiner HR. Lyme disease: questions and discussion. Compr Ther. 2006;32:17-19.


Wormser GP, Dattwyler RJ, et al. The clinical assessment, treatment, and prevention of Lyme disease, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, and babesiosis: clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2006;43:1089-1134.


1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Warshafsky S, Lee DH, Francois LK, Nowakowski J, Nadelman RB, Wormser GP. Efficacy of antibiotic prophylaxis for the prevention of Lyme disease: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2010;65(6):1137-1144.

 

Revision Information