Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that often causes a rash and mild symptoms that include fever, headache, and fatigue, which can be treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease can become serious, especially if not treated early.

Understanding what Lyme disease is, where it comes from, and how to avoid it

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. It often causes a rash and can also cause mild symptoms that include fever, headache, and fatigue, which can be treated with a short course of antibiotics. But Lyme disease can become serious, especially if not treated early.

Lyme disease is an infection that happens when an infected tick bites a human. The condition can cause joint pain. Antibiotics treat Lyme disease. Even after treatment, some symptoms may linger.

Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia (you might also see it as Borreliella), a spiral or corkscrew-shaped bacteria known as a spirochete. There are several species of Borrelia. Borrelia burgdorferi is the most common one in the United States, though others exist as well. Lyme infection also occurs in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.

Also see: Ringworm: What It Looks Like, Causes & Treatment


Lyme disease is an illness caused by borrelia bacteria. Humans usually get Lyme disease from the bite of a tick carrying the bacteria.

Ticks that can carry borrelia bacteria live throughout most of the United States. But Lyme disease is most common in the upper Midwest and the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. It's also common in Europe and in south central and southeastern Canada.

You're at risk of Lyme disease if you spend time where the ticks live, such as grassy, brushy or wooded areas. Taking safety measures in these areas can lower the risk of Lyme disease.

Also see: What Do Bedbugs Bites Look Like?


A tick bite may look like as a tiny, itchy bump on your skin, much like a mosquito bite. This doesn't mean you have a tick-borne disease. Many people will not notice they've had a tick bite.

The symptoms of Lyme disease vary. They usually show up in stages. But the stages can overlap. And some people don't have symptoms of the typical early stage.

Stage 1.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease usually happen within 3 to 30 days after a tick bite. This stage of disease has a limited set of symptoms. This is called early localized disease.

A rash is a common sign of Lyme disease. But it doesn't always happen. The rash is usually a single circle that slowly spreads from the site of the tick bite. It may become clear in the center and look like a target or bull's-eye. The rash often feels warm to the touch, But it's usually not painful or itchy.

Other stage 1 symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Joint stiffness.
  • Muscle aches and pains.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

Also see: 6 Ways to Get Rid of Neck and Back Pain

Stage 2.

Without treatment, Lyme disease can get worse. The symptoms often show up within 3 to 10 weeks after a tick bite. Stage 2 is often more serious and widespread. It is called early disseminated disease.

Stage 2 may include the stage 1 symptoms and the following:

  • Many rashes on other parts of the body.
  • Neck pain or stiffness.
  • Muscle weakness on one or both sides of the face.
  • Immune-system activity in heart tissue that causes irregular heartbeats.
  • Pain that starts from the back and hips and spreads to the legs.
  • Pain, numbness or weakness in the hands or feet.
  • Painful swelling in tissues of the eye or eyelid.
  • Immune-system activity in eye nerves that causes pain or vision loss.

Stage 3.

In the third stage, you may have symptoms from the earlier stages and other symptoms. This stage is called late disseminated disease.

In the United States, the most common condition of this stage is arthritis in large joints, particularly the knees. Pain, swelling or stiffness may last for a long time. Or the symptoms may come and go. Stage 3 symptoms usually begin 2 to 12 months after a tick bite.

The type of Lyme disease common in Europe can cause a skin condition called acrodermatitis chronic atrophicans. The skin on the backs of the hands and tops of the feet get discolored and swell. It also may show up over the elbows and knees. More-serious cases may cause damage to tissues or joints.

This skin condition may show up many months to many years after a tick bite.

Also see: Knee Pain: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Prevent tick bites.

The following tips can help you avoid tick bites:

  • To repel ticks, you may want to spray your clothing with permethrin, an insecticide commonly found in lawn and garden stores. Insect repellents that contain a chemical called DEET can also be applied to clothing or directly onto your skin. Read the labels carefully. Don’t overuse it. Too much may be harmful.
  • Minimize skin exposure to both ticks and insect repellents by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts that fit tightly at the ankles and wrists.
  • Wear a hat, tuck your pant legs into socks and wear shoes that leave no part of your feet exposed.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to detect ticks.
  • Walk in the center of trails to avoid picking up ticks from overhanging grass and brush.
  • After outdoor activities in an "at risk" area, always do a tick check and then shower, scrubbing with a washcloth.
  • Get rid of any ticks on your clothes by putting them in the dryer for 15 minutes. This will kill any ticks attached to the clothes by drying them out.
  • Pets may bring ticks into your home. Discuss ways to prevent ticks on your pet with your veterinarian.

Also see: Monkeypox : Everything You Need to Know

Frequently Asked Questions.

Can Lyme disease completely be cured?

Taking oral antibiotics typically cures Lyme disease after two to four weeks. You may need to get antibiotics through the vein (intravenously) for four more weeks. However, there’s no reason to think that Lyme disease stays in you forever after treatment.

What is Chronic Lyme disease

Chronic Lyme disease is a term used by some for a condition in a person who had Lyme disease and the symptoms of PTLDS. Some people consider chronic Lyme disease to be the same as PTLDS. However, some people receive a chronic Lyme disease diagnosis without a Lyme disease diagnosis. Sometimes, extended treatment with antibiotics helps.

This term may be why some people think a Lyme disease infection can occur without being bitten by a tick. There isn't enough proof that mosquitoes can transmit Lyme disease. Many researchers dislike using the term “chronic Lyme disease.”

If you feel sick after having spent time in areas where ticks might live, you should visit or call the Closest Emergency Room for the medical help. We have board-certified physicians, nurses and staff to help you recover from Lyme disease.

We have ER locations across the DFW metroplex that are open and here to help you 24/7 If you or your family have a medical emergency.

We have 9 facilities spread across the DFW area with average wait times of less than 10 mins that are OPEN 24/7 located in Hurst, Colleyville, Frisco, Highland Village, Hillcrest, Uptown, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Texoma.