Recognizing the Symptoms
Lyme disease can be mild and early symptoms can easily overlooked. The first symptom is usually a rash called erythema migrans which occurs in 60 percent to 80 percent of all Lyme disease cases. Flu-like symptoms, chills, fever, and fatigue, are often experienced, but they may not seem serious enough to require medical attention. The erythema migrans rash is usually reddish and may appear as an expanding rash, blotch, or a central spot surrounded by clear skin that is ringed with the red rash ("bull's eye"). Rashes appearing within the first week are usually 2 1/2 inches across. Those untreated and noticed later (2 to 4 weeks) may be 6 to 8 inches across. More than one rash may appear and may not always occur at the site of the tick bite. Rashes occur anywhere on the body. even in inconspicuous places such as the armpit. groin, or back of the knee. The red patches may be warm, but they are generally not painful and usually do not itch. Erythema migrans appearing on patients with dark skin or a suntan may be more difficult to identify because of decreased contrast between pigmented skin and the lesion. Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation is more common on dark-skinned patients.
The more severe symptoms of Lyme disease may appear weeks, months, or even years after a tick bite. These may include severe headaches, arthritis, and nervous system or cardiac abnormalities. It is obviously much better for Lyme disease to he diagnosed and treated early.