Tick season, while starting to end, is still with us, and with it the threat of Lyme disease. The Mid-Hudson Valley area of New York has led the way in the number of diagnosed cases of Lyme disease in previous years and, unfortunately, that’s likely to continue. People are warned about what to do to prevent tick bites, but even the most cautious can find themselves needing to remove one of these little biters. Once that happens, they have to watch for the signs of Lyme disease. One of the things to look for is a bull’s-eye discoloration of the skin, also known as erythema migrans (EM), which usually shows up a few days to weeks after a tick has attached itself to the skin. The so-called rash is usually a 1-6” circular reddish band of skin with an area of normal colored skin inside it. It’s not generally itchy, warm or painful and there may be more than one even if there has only been one tick bite. The tick will likely not be there anymore, but that bull’s-eye redness, if present, is definitely a signal to seek medical attention at a facility where it can be properly diagnosed and treated, such as FirstCare Medical Center.
While erythema migrans is an unmistakable sign of a tick bite, it can’t be relied upon to be there. Sometimes it’s so faint, it’s overlooked. Other times, it’s simply absent. The Centers for Disease Controlhave put the times that the EM rash is present at only 70-80%. It’s still good to look for the bull’s-eye rash, but there are other signs and symptoms of Lyme disease as well.
If someone was bitten by a tick, whether or not the telltale reddish bull’s-eye is present, here are the signs of early Lyme disease:
- Muscle and/or joint pains
- Swollen lymph nodes
Although these are seen in other illnesses, Lyme disease should be considered, especially if a tick bite is present. A medical professional should be seen as soon as possible so that treatment can be begun early. Lyme disease left untreated leads to chronic health problems.
So, even if you don’t have a bull’s-eye rash, you could still have Lyme disease. If you have the rash or any of the symptoms listed above, seek medical help. If it’s Lyme disease, you’ll need antibiotics. If it isn’t Lyme disease, you’re still playing it safe.