10 Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi and is usually spread by ticks. However, it’s important to note that not all ticks carry the disease. Ixodes ticks are the most common kind to carry Lyme, but black-legged ticks also spread it on the West Coast. Depending on the habitat, the types of wildlife, and other factors, tick infection rates can be anywhere from 0% to 70%. Lyme disease exists not only throughout the United States, but also in over sixty other countries.

You can contract Lyme disease no matter what age you are. According to the CDC, it’s more common in children and older adults whose immune systems may be less equipped to fight off infection, but teenagers and young adults are also able to get it.

The symptoms of Lyme disease often mimic those of other conditions and diseases, making it easy to overlook at first. Therefore, if you suspect you may have Lyme, it’s important to talk to a professional for an accurate diagnosis. Here are the ten most common Lyme symptoms to watch out for:

1. Bull’s Eye Rash

This rash is probably the best well-known symptom of Lyme disease. These rashes have a “bull’s eye” shape that’s centered over the site of the tick bite, are very large, and can be extremely painful.

Bull’s eye rashes are actually far less common than you might think — only about 10 percent of people who contract Lyme disease will develop them. However, this symptom is a definite sign of Lyme disease, and if you have one, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Meryll / Shutterstock.com
Meryll / Shutterstock.com

2. Regular Rash

Although only 10 percent of people get bull’s eye rashes, somewhere between 40 and 80 percent of people get regular rashes. The true number is unknown, as it is unethical to infect human subjects with Lyme disease just to see whether or not they get a rash.

The rash itself can take several days or even weeks to develop after you’re bitten. It starts small, but quickly expands to an area with a diameter of several inches during a period of days or weeks. If left untreated, it can last for weeks before it fades, and it may even come back after fading. The rash may resemble that caused by a spider bite, ringworm, or cellulitis.

Voyagerix / Shutterstock.com
Voyagerix / Shutterstock.com

3. Flu-Like Symptoms

Lyme disease often feels just like the flu in its early stages. Headaches, fatigue, fever, and sore muscles are all common symptoms that, unfortunately, are easily overlooked.

Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock.com
Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock.com
1 of 4