The classic symptom of Lyme disease is a characteristic rash, called erythema migrans, near the bite. An estimated 85% of people with Lyme disease get this rash.
The rash starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite.
Over the next few days or weeks, the rash expands into a circle or oval.
Sometimes the rash resembles a bull's eye (a red ring surrounding a clear area with a red center).
The rash can range from the size of a dime to more than a foot in diameter.
As infection spreads, the rash can appear at different locations on the body.
Nice To Know:
Recognizing the Lyme Disease Rash
The characteristic rash of Lyme disease appears in more than 8 out of 10 cases. It begins as a red dot and then expands. Sometimes the redness fades in the center area, leaving a rash often described as looking like a "bull's-eye."
Anyone with an unusual rash should see a physician. It's best to photograph the rash if possible, in case it disappears by the time of the appointment.
With or without the rash, the infection is often accompanied by:
A generalized feeling of illness (malaise)
If Lyme disease is untreated, about 60% of people will experience symptoms of arthritis (joint inflammation) within several months of being infected:
In Lyme disease, arthritis is most commonly felt in the knees.
The arthritis can shift from one joint to another.
Arthritis symptoms may persist or may occur intermittently.
About 10% to 20% of people with untreated Lyme disease will go on to develop chronic arthritis.
Other symptoms also may appear, caused by inflammation in various areas of the body:
Neurological (nervous system) symptoms are seen in about 15% of people with Lyme disease. They can include partial paralysis of the face (a condition called Bell's palsy), numbness or weakness of the limbs, and a change in mood or sleeping habits.
Less than 10% of the time, the heart can be affected by disorders that include irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and inflammation of the sac around the heart.
Less commonly, Lyme disease can result in eye infection, hepatitis (a disease that affects the liver), or encephalitis (inflammation in the brain).