Lyme disease symptoms will differ between people depending on the stage of the infection. In some, symptoms may not be present.
These symptoms typically occur within 3-32 days of a tick bite.
A hallmark symptom of Lyme disease is a red rash, known as erythema migrans (EM). The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite and expands over a period of days or weeks, forming a circular- or oval-shaped rash. The rash often resembles a bull’s eye: a red ring surrounding a clear or bluish area with a red center. The size of the rash can range from dime-sized to the entire width of a person’s back. More than one ring may develop. Typically, the rash goes away within 4 weeks.
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Although Lyme disease is often associated with this rash, many people do not have the rash right away or at all. Or they may have a red rash, without the bull's eye pattern. If you have other symptoms that you think might be due to Lyme disease, see your doctor; do not wait for a rash to appear.
Muscle and joint aches, headache, fever (a temperature of 100-103°F or 37.7-39.4°C), stiff neck, swollen glands, and fatigue may occur with or without the rash. These symptoms usually last about 5-21 days.
Note: All symptoms of early manifestation usually occur with the first rash or within about 6 weeks of it. They may go away on their own within a few weeks or months.
A history of Lyme disease, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/lymeDisease/Pages/history.aspx. Updated March 29, 2011. Accessed September 26, 2012.
Lyme disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114365/Lyme-disease. Updated August 15, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Lyme disease symptoms. Lyme Disease website. Available at: https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/symptoms. Accessed September 26, 2012.
Signs and symptoms of untreated lyme disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html. Updated July 26, 2012. Accessed September 26, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2018 by David L. Horn, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014