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What are the signs of Lyme disease?

Clifford W. Bassett, MD
Allergy & Immunology

Common signs of Lyme disease include a bulls-eye target rash, fever, chills, aches/pains, arthritis and headaches. Watch allergist Clifford Bassett, MD, discuss these symptoms and why it's important to get tested immediately if you think you have it.

The first sign of infection may appear a few days or a few weeks after a tick bite. In 80% to 90% of all cases of Lyme disease a rash starts as a small red area at the site of the bite. It may spread up to 7 inches across.

In fair-skinned people, the center may be a lighter color with the outer edges red and raised. This sometimes gives the rash a bull’s-eye appearance. In some individuals, the rash may appear to be solid red. In dark-skinned people, the area may look black and blue, like a bruise.

The rash may or may not be warm to the touch and usually is not itchy or painful. If a rash does appear, it will do so in about one to two weeks and may last for about three to five weeks. Some people with Lyme disease never develop a rash.

Other signs of Lyme disease include fever, headache, weakness, and joint and muscle pain. These signs are similar to signs of flu and can develop slowly. They might not occur at the same time as the rash.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.