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Lyme Disease Stages

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Lyme Disease Rash

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  • Lyme disease has three stages of infection
  • It’s best to be aware of the initial signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, so that it can be treated early for a fast and complete recovery

Lyme disease has three stages of infection. It’s best to be aware of the initial signs and symptoms of this disease, so it can be treated early for a fast and complete recovery. Here are the different stages of Lyme disease and what to expect from each of them:1,2

Stage 1 Lyme disease — Also known as early localized Lyme disease, the symptoms of this stage usually occur around three to 30 days after you are bitten by an infected tick. Among the first signs that you may notice is the bull’s-eye rash (erythema migrans), which may appear on any area of the body.

As the bull’s eye-rash expands over a period of days, it can reach up to 12 inches across and clear up in the center, hence the name. It typically doesn’t itch and isn’t painful, but may be warm to touch. This characteristic symptom occurs in about 70% to 80% of individuals with Lyme disease.3 It’s often accompanied by fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes and sore throat.4

Stage 2 Lyme disease — Also known as early disseminated Lyme disease, this stage starts a few weeks or even months after you become infected. During this period, the bacteria are starting to spread to the other parts of the body.5 It is characterized by flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat, fatigue, vision changes and muscle aches.6,7

In this stage of infection, you will have a general feeling of not being well, and a rash may appear on other parts of your body. You may also experience neurological signs like tingling, numbness of the arms and legs, and Bell’s palsy,8,9 a condition that causes sudden, temporary weakness of the facial muscles.10

In early disseminated Lyme disease, complications like cardiac conduction disturbances and meningitis may occur.11 Keep in mind that there is a possibility that the symptoms of stage 1 and 2 Lyme disease will overlap.12

Stage 3 Lyme disease — Also called late disseminated Lyme disease, this stage occurs months or even years after the tick bite, when the infection is not appropriately treated in the first and second stages. During this stage, you are likely to experience severe headaches, heart rhythm disturbances, arthritis of one or more major joints, brain disorders, mental fogginess and numbness in the extremities.13

Remember that the symptoms of Lyme disease may come and go, even without treatment. Just because there are no symptoms doesn’t mean that the disease is resolved. If Lyme disease is not appropriately treated, it can spread to the other parts of your body, and will eventually lead to severe health issues like nervous system disorders, heart problems, liver disease, severe fatigue and eye inflammation.14


Lyme Disease: Introduction

What Is Lyme Disease?

Is Lyme Disease Contagious?

Lyme Disease Causes

Lyme Disease Stages

Lyme Disease Symptoms

Lyme Disease Treatment

Lyme Disease Prevention

Lyme Disease Test

Lyme Disease Diet

Lyme Disease FAQ

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