Should I Be Tested For Lyme Disease After A Tick Bite
Lyme testing relies on detecting antibodies the bodys reaction to the germ not the germ itself. It takes time for the body to make antibodies, at least a couple of weeks after you have become infected. Someone with symptoms of very early Lyme disease is likely to have a negative Lyme antibody test. On the other hand, false positive Lyme tests can happen, so someone without symptoms of Lyme disease who tests positive is unlikely to really have the disease. Testing for Lyme disease shortly after a tick bite is not helpful, says Dr. Baer and may lead to a prescription for a medication that you just dont need.
How To Avoid Tick Bites
To reduce the chance of being bitten:
- cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
- use insect repellent on your clothes and skin products containing DEET are best
- stay on clear paths whenever possible
- wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see and brush off
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.
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Symptoms And Signs Of An Infected Tick Bite
If an infected tick bit you and you werent able to remove it in time, here are some of the symptoms that occur in three to 30 days after you were bitten. You can experience swollen lymph nodes, joint and muscle aches, fatigue, headache, chills, and fever. As for the characteristic rash, it occurs only in a few of infected individuals.
The rash usually starts appearing after 7 days or a delay of 3 to 30 days. It gradually expands over a few days and can reach up to 30 cm in diameter. While rarely painful or itchy, the rash can feel warm if touched. The rash sometimes clears as it becomes bigger thus, resulting in the appearance of a bulls eye. It can appear on any part of your body, depending on where the tick bit you.
If you allow days or months to pass after a bite, you may experience symptoms that are more serious. You may experience neck stiffness and severe headaches and more rashes may appear on different parts of your body. You can also experience arthritis with swelling and severe joint pain, especially in large joints like the knees and hips. Other symptoms resulting from tick bites may include:
- Bells palsy, which is characterized as muscle loss or drooping on both sides or one side of the face
- Lyme carditis or heart palpitations
- Inflammation of the spinal cord and brain
- Episodes of shortness of breath or dizziness
- Nerve pain
- Numbness, tingling, or shooting pains in the feet or hands.
How To Safely Remove A Tick
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, and some ticks carry other diseases. To avoid infecting yourself, never crush a tick with your fingers. For more information on the safe removal, disposal and identification of ticks visit CDC.gov/ticks.
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What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the spiral-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is most commonly transmitted by a tick bite.
There are over 300,000 estimated new cases of Lyme disease in the United States each year.
The symptoms of Lyme disease depend on the how long the infection has been present in the body. The first sign of Lyme disease is often an expanding round or oval red “bullseye” rash.
If left untreated, people may develop neurological symptoms and heart problems, and have an approximately 60 percent chance of developing Lyme arthritis.
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasnt been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur months or years after the tick bite.
This stage is characterized by:
- arthritis of one or more large joints
- brain disorders, such as encephalopathy, which can cause short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess, problems with following conversations and sleep disturbance
- numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
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Prevention Of Lyme Disease
- Avoid areas endemic for Lyme borreliosis.
- When walking in high grass or woodland, wear white clothes with long sleeves, long trousers tucked into socks, or long boots.
- Use repellents/pesticides.
- After return from a walk in an endemic area, change your clothes and check your whole body carefully.
- The next day, check your body for ticks again.
- Remove the tick as a prompt removal decreases the risk of Lyme disease transmission. Disinfect the site. Use tweezers to carefully and steadily pull the tick out from the skin. Disinfect the site again. Wash your hands.
- Watch the site of the tick bite for several weeks. If a rash appears bigger than 5 cm or you have ‘flu-like symptoms, consult your doctor.
There is no vaccine for Lyme disease.
Keeping Your Family Safe
For parents, kids safety is of the utmost importance, including their trips outside. When the sun is shining and the weather is just perfect, its hard to keep yourself and your children cooped up inside. However, for parents in heavily populated tick areas, the idea of spending extended time outdoors can dredge up a bit of warranted anxiety. Because kids are vivacious, and exploratory, they have no qualms about sitting in mulch piles and pulling grass, picking flowers, and chasing animals through the lawn. If you plan on spending time outside on those beautiful days, there are a few tips and tricks for parents to keep their child protected from the possibility of infection of Lyme.
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Is Lyme Disease Curable What Is The Prognosis Of Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is usually curable with antibiotics. This is so true that some authors of Lyme disease research have stated that the most common cause of lack of response of Lyme disease to antibiotic therapy is a lack of Lyme disease, to begin with! The type of antibiotic depends on the stage of the disease and what areas of the body are affected. Early illness is usually effectively treated with medications taken by mouth, for example, doxycycline , amoxicillin , or cefuroxime axetil . This antibiotic therapy generally results in a rapid cure of Lyme disease. Of note, doxycycline should not be used in pregnancy or children under 8 years of age.
Therefore, if a person finds a typical bulls-eye skin rash developing in an area of a tick bite, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Generally, antibiotic treatment resolves the rash within one or two weeks with no long-term consequences. Later illnesses such as nervous-system disease might require intravenous drugs examples are ceftriaxone and penicillin G. There are no home remedies to treat Lyme disease.
In those people with two or more episodes of erythema migrans rash, even years apart, it is felt that the episodes represent different infections or reinfection rather than persistence of the original infection.
How To Remove Ticks
Tick bites aren’t always painful. You may not notice a tick unless you see it on your skin. Check your skin and your children’s or pets’ skin after being outdoors.
To remove a tick:
The risk of getting ill is low. You don’t need to do anything else unless you become unwell.
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Tick Bites That Can Cause Lyme Disease
Lyme disease should not be taken lightly. If you have been bitten by an infected tick while you were outdoors and were lucky enough to have developed that characteristic bulls eye rash, or you simply have been bitten by a tick in general, you have a few options. It is best to first try and consult with a Lyme knowledgable doctor for treatment options. But you can also come to us at VitaLyme for our alternative treatment options. Tick bites are no laughing matter and they look unusual, which is the reason why you should take immediate action before any Lyme disease symptoms develop.
What Blacklegged Ticks Look Like
Blacklegged ticks are small and hard to see. They attach themselves to humans and animals and feed on their blood. They can range in size depending on how long they have been feeding.
You can find out if its a blacklegged tick by:
- calling your local public health unit or checking their website
- submitting a photo of the tick to etick.ca
Adult female blacklegged tick at various stages of feeding. Photo: Government of Canada
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What To Look For
In kids, the first sign parents often come across is the infamous bullseye rash, or erythema migrans. Additional signs and symptoms can include : nausea, headaches, joint stiffness or pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If your child appears to have a rash, is experiencing any of these mentioned symptoms, or you have found a tick embedded in your childs skin, you should call your childs pediatrician right away for further treatment or assessment. Most doctors will remove the tick in the office and send it off for testing to determine if it was a carrier for Lyme. Additional testing of the affected person may be necessary depending on the results of the ticks Lyme testing.
Tick Testing After Removal
There are also people who have removed ticks. Yet, they still want to have the tick tested. A number of local and state health departments offer tick testing and identification as a service to the community. The departments also do it for research uses like evaluating the rate of infection among a certain areas tick population. If you seek to do this, consult with your local health department.
Normally, individual tick testing is not always useful since:
Negative results can be misleading and you may be falsely assured that you are not infected with Lyme disease. You may have gotten tick bites from another tick that was infected.
If you contracted an infection, you may develop Lyme disease symptoms before the tick test results become available. The results are not an indication for you to start the right treatment option. If you want to check out our VitaLyme alternative option, you can also consult with us.
If the test indicates that the tick has organisms that cause diseases, it does not always mean that you are infected.
If you are always outdoors, intend to go outdoors, or live in an area with a lot of open spaces that are potential hot spots for ticks, it is always useful to learn about the various types of ticks. For your own sanity, you can keep a tick that you have taken away from your skin and if you wish have it tested. Tape it to paper or place it in a tiny container.
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Who Is At Risk
Many occupations may be at risk, including forestry, farming, veterinarians, construction, landscaping, ground keepers, park or wildlife management, and anyone who either works outside or has contact with animals that may carry ticks
Similarly, any person who spends a lot time outdoors , especially in grassy or wooded areas may also be at risk.
How We Care For Lyme Disease
The Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s provides comprehensive care for children and adolescents with Lyme disease and other infections. Our services include consultation, evaluation, treatment, and management of long-term complications of Lyme disease.
The commitment and compassion with which we care for all children and families is matched only by the pioneering spirit of discovery and innovation that drives us to think differently, to find answers, and to build a better tomorrow for children everywhere.
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Key Points To Remember
- Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
- Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
- Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
- Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
- Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.
Recognizing The Rash After A Tick Bite
It is important to understand that a rash is not always present or easily recognizable in early Lyme disease, and this can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment.
Please refer to our poster of varied Lyme disease rash manifestations as a helpful identification tool.
When present, it is wise to take a picture of the rash with the date for your medical record, since a rash compatible with erythema migrans rash should prompt urgent evaluation and treatment. Lyme disease is most successfully treated in this first stage.
If you have a suspicious rash or your symptoms persist, please seek medical care immediately.
The erythema migrans Lyme disease rash is:
- Round or oval, enlarges in size over days/weeks, & will not fade in a few days
- Usually greater than 2 inches in diameter, often 6-8
- Usually uniformly red
- Sometimes but not often, a bulls eye rash with a red ring surrounding a clear area and red center
- Minimally tender, minimally itchy , and sometimes warm
- Often confused with spider bites
The incubation period from tick bite to rash is usually 3-10 days but can be 30 days.
The Lyme rash can spread through the bloodstream to other areas of the skin.
Sometimes blisters develop in the center of the rash.
Tick bite reactions are often confused with the rash of Lyme disease.
Tick bite reactions:
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How Long Does It Take The Tick To Transmit Lyme
Experts disagree about how long it takes a tick to transmit Lyme disease. The CDC says that in most cases, the tick must be attached more than 24 hours.
We think that gives people a false sense of security. In some research studies, 5-7% of nymphs transmitted the Lyme bacteria in less than 24 hours. One paper reported on a case of Lyme disease transmitted after six hours of tick attachment. The risk may be low the first day, but its not zero.
Furthermore, some studies show that only 30% of patients with Lyme disease recall a tick bite. If people dont even realize that they were bitten, how could they know how long the tick was attached?
The longer a tick stays on you, the more likely it will transmit disease. Its important to find and remove any tick as soon as possible.
Other Causes Of Lyme Disease Symptoms
Sometimes people think they have the symptoms of Lyme disease, but it is a different disease caused by ticks. Diseases caused by tick bites that are known in Australia are:
- Queensland tick typhus
- Q fever
- mammalian meat allergy
Sometimes there is no known diagnosis for symptoms such as fatigue, disordered thinking, disturbances of the senses, joint pain and headaches. These symptoms are real and can be very debilitating. In this case, you doctor will work with you to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
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