So You’ve Been Bit – Watch For Lyme Disease Symptoms

Got a tick bite? Ouch! Once you get the tick out, you still have an important self care step left: watching for the symptoms of Lyme Disease. This illness can be serious, so the sooner you catch it, the better. Let’s take a look at some Lyme disease symptoms, as well as some common misconceptions about Lyme disease treatment!

MONITORING FOR LYME DISEASE

Many people have incorrect information about Lyme disease. For example, some people are concerned that Lyme disease is untreatable if antibiotics are not given early (this is untrue; even later features of Lyme disease can be effectively treated with appropriate antibiotics). Many local Lyme disease networks and national organizations disseminate unproven information and should not be the sole source of education about Lyme disease.

Signs of Lyme Disease

Whether or not a clinician is consulted after a tick bite, the person who was bitten (or the parents, if a child was bitten) should observe the area of the bite for expanding redness, which would suggest erythema migrans (EM), the characteristic rash of Lyme disease.

The EM rash is usually a salmon color although, rarely, it can be an intense red, sometimes resembling a skin infection. The color may be almost uniform. The lesion typically expands over a few days or weeks and can reach over 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter. As the rash expands, it can become clear (skin-colored) in the center. The center of the rash can then appear a lighter color than its edges or the rash can develop into a series of concentric rings giving it a “bull’s eye” appearance. The rash usually causes no symptoms, although burning or itching has been reported.

In people with early localized Lyme disease, EM occurs within one month of the tick bite, typically within a week of the tick bite, although only one-third of people recall the tick bite that gave them Lyme disease. Components of tick saliva can cause a short-lived (24 to 48 hours) rash that should not be confused with EM. This reaction usually does not expand to a size larger than a dime.

Approximately 80 percent of people with Lyme disease develop EM; 10 to 20 percent of people have multiple lesions. If EM or other signs or symptoms suggestive of Lyme disease develop, the person should see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

– via www.uptodate.com

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, it’s important to watch for signs of any tick-borne illness, including Lyme disease symptoms. A rash is only the start of symptoms a person might experience if they’ve been infected by a tick bite!

Common Symptoms of Tickborne Illness

The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:

Fever/chills

With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.

Aches and pains

Tickborne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.

Rash

Lyme disease and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI) [among others] can result in rashes:

  • In Lyme disease, the rash may appear within 3-30 days, typically before the onset of fever. The Lyme disease rash is the first sign of infection and is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans or EM. This rash occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite. It may be warm, but is not usually painful. Some patients develop additional EM lesions in other areas of the body several days later.
  • The rash of (STARI) is nearly identical to that of Lyme disease, with a red, expanding “bulls eye” lesion that develops around the site of a lone star tick bite. Unlike Lyme disease, STARI has not been linked to any arthritic or neurologic symptoms.

– via www.cdc.gov

Obviously, if you have any symptom and believe you could have a tick-borne illness, it makes sense to get checked out by a doctor even if you haven’t had a rash. But, it’s nice to know that a bullseye rash is the most common first symptom of Lyme disease! Have you ever gotten a tick bite and worried about Lyme disease symptoms?