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How Can I Prevent Bites From Ticks And Lyme Disease

Think the Lyme Disease Rash is Always a Bull’s-eye? Think Again! | Johns Hopkins Rheumatology

You can keep yourself, your loved ones, and your pets from encountering Lyme ticks with a few easy, Be Tick AWARE prevention steps:

  • Avoid high-traffic areas known to host ticks that carry Lyme disease like tall grasses and leaf piles
  • Wear clothing to protect from ticks and Lyme disease, like long sleeves, pants, and socks
  • Apply EPA-approved tick repellent properly
  • Remove clothing to protect from ticks and Lyme disease, like long sleeves, pants, and socks
  • Examine yourself for ticks daily as the risk of Lyme disease is always there

Learn more about preventing encounters with ticks that carry Lyme disease on our prevention page.

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Stage : Early Localized Disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease usually start 3 to 30 days after the tick bite. One of the earliest signs of the disease is a bulls-eye rash.

The rash occurs at the site of the tick bite, usually, but not always, as a central red spot surrounded by a clear spot with an area of redness at the edge. It may be warm to the touch, but its not painful and doesnt itch. This rash will gradually fade in most people.

The formal name for this rash is erythema migrans.

Some people with lighter skin have a rash thats solid red. Some people with darker skin may have a rash that resembles a bruise.

The rash can occur with or without systemic viral or flu-like symptoms.

Other symptoms commonly seen in this stage of Lyme disease include:

Youll have a general feeling of being unwell. A rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite.

This stage of the disease is primarily characterized by evidence of systemic infection, which means infection has spread throughout the body, including to other organs.

Symptoms can include:

  • disturbances in heart rhythm, which can be caused by Lyme carditis
  • neurologic conditions, such as numbness, tingling, facial and cranial nerve palsies, and meningitis

The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.

How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed

Early diagnosis of Lyme disease is essential. Diagnosis can be made on the presence of erythema migrans and other symptoms, plus a history of or evidence of a tick bite. Laboratory tests are usually not necessary in the early stage of erythema migrans,

Undetected or ignored early symptoms may be followed by more severe symptoms weeks, months or even years after the initial infection. Certain laboratory tests are then recommended to confirm the diagnosis and should be interpreted by an expert..

  • Antibodytitres to B burgdorferi using enzyme-linked immunoassay or immunofluorescent assay.
  • Positive results should be confirmed by Western immunoblot.
  • Acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans
  • The organism can be cultured or polymerase chain reaction test for the organism can be done on the skin specimen.
  • Positive antibodies to B. burgdorferi can be in many cases detected for many years after the successful treatment.

    Tick bites may transmit other infections like tick-born encephalitis, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Co-infections should be considered if symptoms of Lyme disease are severe or prolonged, in case of high fever, and abnormal blood tests results .

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    Stage : Small Oval Rashes Or A Reddish Lump

    When a tick that causes Lyme disease bites you, it infects you with bacteria. Without treatment, the bacteria can spread to other areas of your body. Stage 2 begins when the bacteria spread to other parts of your body.

    During this stage, you may see small, oval rashes on your skin. Some people develop a bluish-red lump.

    Where you see these signs: Because the infection has spread, small rashes can appear anywhere on your skin, except for your palms and soles. Most rashes appear on the arms, legs, and face.

    Some people develop a lump, which your doctor may refer to as borrelial lymphocytoma. In children, this lump tends to appear on an earlobe. Adults often see a raised growth form around a nipple.

    Borrelial lymphocytoma on a childs ear

    This can appear in stage 2 of Lyme disease.

    What you may see on your skin: The rashes that appear during stage 2 differ from the rash that can appear in stage 1. In stage 2, the rashes stay the same size rather than grow larger.

    When the rashes, lump, and symptoms begin: About 30 to 45 days after the tick bites you, you may notice rashes or a lump. These can also take longer to appear, sometimes six months or more.

    Some people develop symptoms, which make them feel ill, including:

    • Fever

    • Shortness of breath and dizzy spells

    • Bells palsy, which causes one half of the face to droop

    • Heart problems, such as chest pains or an irregular heartbeat

    When Should You See A Doctor For Your Tick Bite

    Its that time of the year again: Watch out for Lyme disease

    Keep tabs on the bite area after a tick has bitten you. If the area of the bite becomes red or swollen for days or you develop flu-like symptoms, this may be a sign of tick-related disease such as Lyme disease, Dr. Rodney says. You should call your doctor or visit the nearest emergency room. And, if you develop signs of an infection, youll also want to call your doctor for help.

    Ticks can be tiny and they can be easily missed, so its important to do thorough body check after youve spent time outdoors. Be sure to look carefully under your arms, around your ears, inside your belly button, behind your knees, between your legs, and in your hair. Checking yourself, kids, and pets can go a long way in minimizing contact with these critters, says Dill.

    And as always, stock up on the best tick repellents before your next outdoor adventure.

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    Stages Of Lyme Disease Symptoms

    All Lyme disease symptoms will worsen if your Lyme disease is left untreated. Symptoms develop in three stages. The first stage is called early localized Lyme disease. If they are not treated in this stage, Lyme bacteria begin to multiply and spread throughout the body, affecting more parts of the body.

    Stage two is called early disseminated Lyme disease. Along with stage one symptoms, you may also experience bells palsy, weakness or numbness in your arms or legs, blurred vision, heart palpitations, and lesions or rashes, unlike the bulls-eye rash.

    Stage three is called late disseminated Lyme disease, and additional symptoms appear, such as arthritis, vertigo, sleep disturbances, mental fog, problems processing thoughts, and heart arrhythmias.

    Identifying A Tick Bite

    Tick bites are often easy to identify. This is because the tick can remain attached to the skin for up to 10 days after it first bites. Most tick bites are harmless and will cause no physical signs or symptoms. Only certain types of ticks transmit disease.

    Tick bites are typically singular because ticks dont bite in groups or lines.

    Ticks can transmit potentially severe diseases to human hosts. Most signs or symptoms of a tick-borne disease will begin within a few days to a few weeks after a tick bite.

    Some diseases that you can contract through a tick bite include:

    • Lyme disease

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    What A Tick Bite Looks Like

    Initially, the tick will still be attached, and you will see its body and legs. In some people, a hive will form around the site of attachment after a few hours, and this can be itchy or painful, Dr. Batra says.

    The infected area can also be red, swollen and bruised. Ticks can remain attached for 7 to 12 days before they become engorged with blood and fall off, she says, and while attached, they can cause fever, chills, headache, vomiting and abdominal pain. So these indicators might mean theres a tick on you.

    These symptoms are called tick bite pyrexia, and they will usually improve within 12 to 36 hours once the tick is removed, she says.

    One of the most commonly recognized signs of a tick bite is a bulls eye-shaped red rash with a central paleness that extends outwards over days to week. And its associated with Lyme disease. If you see this rash, you need to get yourself to a doctor ASAP.

    And take note: Sometimes there will be no rash despite the bite. By some estimates, 20 to 30 percent of people who develop Lyme disease never had a rash, she says. If you find an embedded tick and start feeling sick, call a doctor.

    Symptoms Of A Tick Bite

    Lyme Disease
    • A tick bite does not cause pain. It may or may not itch. So, ticks may not be noticed for a few days.
    • After feeding on blood, ticks get swollen and easier to see.
    • Ticks fall off on their own after sucking blood for 3 to 6 days.
    • After the tick comes off, a little red bump may be seen.
    • The red bump or spot is the body’s response to the tick’s saliva .
    • While it’s sucking blood, some of its spit gets mixed in.

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    What To Do If You Find A Tick

    Depending on the area, anywhere from less than 1% to more than 50% of ticks carry Lyme disease, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. If you find a tick on your body, you should remove it. ILADS recommends contacting your doctor immediately if youve been bitten by a black-legged tick, before symptoms of Lyme disease appear .

    According to Bran, Lyme infection may be prevented if the tick bite happened within 72 hours of you starting treatment.

    Not all ticks carry Lyme disease.

    ILADS recommends saving the tick in a container with a lid or a ziplock bag. This allows you to send it in for testing or to get confirmation by your doctor.

    How long does an infected tick need to be attached to pass on Lyme disease? Expert advice varies

    But the sooner you spot and remove the tick, the better.

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    How Can You Tell A Tick Bite From A Mosquito Bite

    Obviously, ticks arent the only bugs that can bite you and leave a mark. Tick bites are difficult to detect compared to mosquito bites since the reaction from a bite can vary from person to person, says board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, M.D.1, founding director of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics.

    Tick bites may have a tiny, deep red circle with a lighter red patch around the edges, Dr. Rodney says. And, she points out, ticks can remain on the skin and site, making it easy to tell if you have a tick bite.

    But, if the bug has left the premises, Dr. Rodney says that these are signs youre dealing with a mosquito bite:

    • Its itchy
    • It looks red or white
    • It gets puffy
    • It has a raised bump or a dark spot that looks like a bruise

    Another thing to keep in mind, per Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital: Mosquitoes tend to bite more than once or bite in groups. Mosquito bites often are multiple, while a tick bite usually is a single lesion, he says.

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    Living With Lyme Disease

    Most people treated in the early stages of Lyme disease make a quick and complete recovery. Some may experience symptoms for a few weeks after treatment. If you were treated for Lyme disease but you still dont feel well, call your family doctor. He or she can make sure there isnt something else wrong. They can help you find ways to ease your symptoms. Some patients have found relief with treatments typically used for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.

    Other things you can do to help manage Lyme disease include:

    • Educate yourself.There is a lot of inaccurate information to be sorted through, especially on the internet. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
    • Track your symptoms.Keep a diary of your sleep patterns, eating habits, exercise routines, and how youre feeling. You or your doctor may be able to make connections between them.
    • Take care of yourself.Eat a healthy diet. Exercise as regularly as you can. Get plenty of rest.

    Find support. It can be hard to not feel well and not know why. Some people may think your symptoms arent real. Talk to friends and family. If they cant offer support, talk with a counselor who can help you.

    Tick Pictures And Lyme Patient Rash Pictures

    Summer Injury Alert

    See Research Here. Co Infections to learn more.Also less then half the people who get infected with Lyme Disease ever develop the Bulls Eye rash. Some develop other atypical rashes and some dont have any rash at all.Dr Jemsecks Explantion of the Erythema Migrans

    Note: It is not necessary to have a rash to have Lyme Disease or other Tick Borne Infections. According to International Lyme and Associated Disease Society less then 50% of Lyme patients develop a rash. And for those who do, it may not be the typical bulls eye rash. See ILADS Lyme Quick Facts Here.

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    What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Lyme Disease

    Lyme disease can affect different body systems, such as the nervous system, joints, skin, and heart. The symptoms of Lyme disease are often described as happening in three stages. Not everyone with Lyme has all of these, though:

  • A circular rash at the site of the tick bite, typically within 12 weeks of infection, often is the first sign of infection. Its considered typical of Lyme disease, but many people never get one.

    The rash sometimes has a bulls-eye appearance, with a central red spot surrounded by clear skin that is ringed by an expanding red rash. It also can appear as an growing ring of solid redness. Its usually flat and painless, but sometimes can be warm to the touch, itchy, scaly, burning, or prickling. The rash may look and feel very different from one person to the next. It can be harder to see on people with darker skin tones, where it can look like a bruise. It gets bigger for a few days to weeks, then goes away on its own. A person also may have flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle aches.

  • The last stage of Lyme disease happens if the early stages werent found or treated. Symptoms can begin anytime from weeks to years after an infectious tick bite. In kids and teens, this is almost always in the form of arthritis, with swelling and tenderness, particularly in the knees or other large joints.
  • Stage : Changing Skin

    In stage 3, few signs of Lyme disease appear on the skin. Most problems occur in the heart and nervous system, and these can be serious.

    Where you see signs on your skin: If you were in Europe when bit by a tick, you may see changes to your skin in this late stage. These changes usually appear on a hand or foot. Some people develop this change on both of their hands or feet. It can also occur on a knee, elbow, or elsewhere.

    What the skin looks like: The skin begins to swell, and you may notice some redness. These signs are caused by having a bacterial infection for a long time. The affected skin may also feel sore.

    In time, the skin starts to harden and shrink, causing deep lines to form. If you have hair in the area, it tends to fall out. The sweat glands can die, and the skin often becomes so thin that it tears easily. The medical name for this condition is acrodermatitischronical atrophicans.

    In stage 3, you may also see tumors on your skin. It is believed that the long-term infection and swelling in the lymph nodes can lead to a cancer known as cutaneous B-cell lymphoma.

    Skin starts to harden and shrink, causing deep lines to form

    The medical name for this condition is acrodermatitis chronical atrophicans. Swelling, hardened skin, and deep lines on the foot of someone who has had Lyme disease for years.

    When you see signs of changing skin and symptoms: These tend to occur months or years after you are bitten by a tick.

    • Arthritis

    • Dementia

    • Heart failure

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    Does It Matter What Kind Of Tick Bit Me

    There are many different species of ticks, but the detail that matters is whether you were bitten by a deer tick or dog tick, which are known to transmit these two major diseases to humans.

    The only two major diseases we see reside in deer and dog ticksif youre bitten by a random tick that doesnt transmit disease, youll be fine, says Dr. Schrading, who clarifies that deer ticks transmit Lyme disease and dog ticks transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Other ticks, like the Lone Star tick, for example, also transmit diseases. But infections from Lone Star ticks make up a small percentage of all tick-borne illnesses, per the CDC.

    The tricky thing is that theres no way to tell from the actual bite itself which tick nabbed you. That said, if you develop the classic bullseye rash or a spotted rash spreading across your body, its pretty clear which tick was the culprit. At that point, you should definitely hightail it to your doctors office for evaluation, which Dr. Mudassar says is worth doing for *any* tick bite, even one that isnt causing symptoms yet.

    Its better if you go to the doctor right away when you know youve had a tick bite, says Dr. Mudassar. If you go within 36 hours of the bite, you can be treated with a lesser dose of antibiotics .

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