No. A certain kind of rash, called erythema migrans, is a telltale symptom of Lyme disease, and if you have it call your doctor immediately.  But not everyone who has Lyme exhibits a rash, much less the “bullseye” rash so often associated with Lyme disease.

The chart below illustrates several of the forms these rashes might take.

Lyme Disease Bullseye Rash

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that as many as 70% may exhibit the erythema migrans, but this can vary by region. For example, a 2010 study showed that in the state of Maine only 43% of Lyme patients exhibited this particular type of rash.

There are many symptoms of Lyme disease and it is critical that you are alert to all of them. See Lyme Disease Symptoms for more information.

Don’t Be Fooled

Lyme disease is often referred to as the great imitator because so many of its symptoms resemble those of other diseases. Without a telltale skin rash, it can be very hard to diagnose Lyme disease.  Many people never recall being bitten.

Below is a list of just some of diseases that many people have initially been diagnosed with, only to receive a Lyme diagnosis later:

  • Arthritis: typically manifesting as joint pain, swelling, redness, heat, and limitation of movement
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis: a childhood disease that causes joint inflammation and swelling
  • Fibromyalgia: especially widespread muscle and soft tissue pain
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome: severe and debilitating fatigue
  • Multiple sclerosis: leading to problems with muscle control and strength, vision, balance, sensation, and mental functioning
  • Lupus: joint pain, swelling, may affect kidneys, brain and other organs

If you suspect Lyme, even if you do not recall being bitten, try to recall where and when you might have been exposed to infected ticks, and discuss the situation and symptoms with your doctor.

Image courtesy of Emily M. Eng

174 Comments on “Does Everyone Get the Telltale Bullseye Rash?

  1. A few years back, my wife was bitten by a deer tick on her calf. She developed a swollen, painful rash that went away after a couple weeks. She has come down with retinal issues that can’t be resolved. She has been on prednisone and methotrexate for 2 years now to treat her extremely rare condition of AZOOR. She had blood test but showed no Lyme present. Could this still be caused by Lyme? I too had a tick bite shortly after hers with the same swollen painful rash. I developed no symptoms.

    1. If only we had better diagnostics! Unfortunately a negative test result is not definitive, especially in early stages of infection, and ticks can carry many pathogens. (The “gold standard” ELISA/Western Blot diagnostic for Lyme misses up to 60% of acute cases.) AZOOR can theoretically have a pathogenic etiology so it is not impossible to rule out Lyme being a cause but you are best advised to speak with a Lyme-literate doctor who can assess all your symptoms and case histories. We wish you both the very best.

    2. Sorry to butt in here, but as a tertiary or chronic Lyme patient who had it for a minimum of 10 years before diagnosis, according to the specialist I finally ended up with, I wanted to make sure the answer is clear. Lyme could absolutely be either the source or in the mix of your wife’s issues. More to the point prednisone or any steroids are something Lyme patients should stay away from. It’s not uncommon for an un-diagnosed Lyme patient to end up on steroids because of the symptoms they are often suffering. It happened to me too but it’s one of the few things medical-people-in-the-Lyme-world specialty are really vocal about not getting near.

    3. Definitely. I know my mom didn’t and just listened to a jre podcast where a man had to develop his own company to test his daughter for Lyme. It’s scary stuff for sure.

    4. Ok, so I got bitten by a tiny tick a couple of days ago and now I have a spot on my belly the size of a baseball and it really hurts. What sign do I need to look for?

    5. Go see Dr David Minkoff. Search for him because functional medicine might help. It’s controversial because it’s not high antibiotics. He would run a bunch of tests to determine if it was Lyme disease or another auto-immune issue. FDA says only scientific drugs can cure while they push toxins in our foods. Foods can’t cure is FDA bull but a good doctor will use both routes because sometimes we really do need standard medicine. Dr. Minkoff specializes in Lyme disease where other merhids have failed (antibiotic routines failed). If he can’t get to the bottom, he will know who can! Not cheap but worth it! Best Wishes!

  2. In Oct 2017 I began to experience extreme symptoms and were all symptoms associated with Lyme – including: tachycardia, palpitations, stiff neck, chills and hot sweats, acute on-off pain in all parts of the body, feeling like about to collapse, and my throat felt narrow and closed for about a week. I saw many doctors as I am a relatively healthy person and I have never experienced anything like this – most thought I just had a virus. I had been to Malta on holiday a month before the first symptoms, so I don’t know if that matters, and I never got a rash. The symptoms lasted for around 3 months, especially the chills and feeling hot, but there was no explanation as to why, something this extreme only seemed to add up with Lyme. No one understood what was wrong so I had an ELISA test done and it came back negative – I know these aren’t very specific so Im still worried. My symptoms have stopped and I’m back to perfect health but Im so worried these were an early stage of a disease like Lyme and it coming back later – could this possibly have been Lyme??

    1. Mary, unfortunately Bay Area Lyme is not a clinical organization and therefore not equipped to provide diagnostic advice on individual cases. You are correct in stating that the listed symptoms are symptoms of Lyme disease, though they are also common to several other conditions. It is also true that the ELISA test is not highly accurate and can give false negatives, particularly during early stages of infection when there may not be sufficient antibodies for detection. For all these reasons, if you ever suspect Lyme disease, we encourage you to speak with a knowledgeable physician (click here for a directory of Lyme-literate physicians in your area) and to monitor and note all symptoms (when occurred, how severe, how long lasted, etc.) as this information can assist your doctor in diagnosing your situation. Best wishes.

    2. You had better believe you have Chronic Lyme now…the Elisa test should be trashed as it is VERY unreliable. One of the most reliable is through IGeneX Laboratories in Plo Alto, CA. Your symptoms could come back at any moment and esp. if you suffer some traumatic life event –a car wreck, losing a loved one, a divorce, a sick family member, etc. can jar it back into active mode. After all this time, you would require progressive extended treatment if it shows back up. Do Not Trust ELISA….Most doctors know nothing about Lyme. You can call IGeneX and order test kit for no charge.

  3. I was bitten by a tick in August last year and had strange marks appear on my legs. Had a distinctive EM in January this year and was diagnosed with LD. Had extreme fatigue and sore knee. Took 6 weeks of antibiotics. Been off the antibiotics for 10 days and now have 9 red marks on my leg – 2 of them look like bullseyes. Does this mean I’m still infected? Do I need another course of antibiotics? Still really tired and sore knee.

    1. Mrs. Cooper. Unfortunately Bay Area Lyme Foundation cannot comment on individual cases and would advise you to speak with your doctor or a Lyme specialist in your area (for a referral for a Lyme specialist in your area, click here).

      Infections diagnosed at a later stage (e.g., months or years after a tick-bite) may require longer course of antibiotics and co-infections are common and can complicate treatment. It is also not uncommon for patients to have recurring EM rashes, even after antibiotics, though currently we do not have sufficiently accurate diagnostics to know if such occurrence is due to persistent or secondary infections.

      In any event, we would strongly advise you to consult with your doctor about having a full set of blood tests for Lyme and related infections. You may want to take photographs of any rashes and notes on any and all symptoms to assist with the diagnosis. Best wishes.

    2. Yes, you need a test by IGeneX of Palo Alto, CA…Most other tests are unreliable. You needed doxycycline for 6-8 weeks. You may have gotten infected again by mosquito, flea, spider, or another insect. They all carry Lyme.

  4. Hello! Does a Lyme rash ever come back in a different place? I had a mysterious bite w a bullseye rash in Oct but it tested negative for Lyme. Now in March, I live in Africa (where ticks are not common) and am having moving joint pain (lower back and then right knee) and just above my right knee is a huge but incomplete bullseye rash (larger outer half circle, complete inner circle). I took my doxycycline (to prevent malaria) this morning the rash is very faded and the knee pain gone. Should I see a Dr and suggest Lyme? Or is it extremely unlikely given that the rash moved and was not a complete circle?


    1. Thank you for your question. Bay Area Lyme is not a clinical organization and therefore can not comment on individual cases or provide specific diagnostic counsel. However, there are a few things to know about erythema migrans (“the Lyme rash”) and Lyme testing:

      – Rashes typically occur at the site of the tick bite and then gradually expand over a period of days to weeks though many patients never recall seeing a rash (in some studies less than 50% of diagnosed patients recall having a rash)

      – An EM rash tends to be circular or oval but may or may not have a central clearing (the “bullseye” pattern). See the pictures above or the CDC website for more images of Lyme rashes.

      – Rashes can last for days or weeks or even longer and multiple simultaneous or “migratory” rashes (that show up in other areas of the body) are an expected part of the disease course.

      – Patients have also reported recurring rashes, usually in the same spot where first manifesting, commonly after initiating antibiotic treatment (though the cause for this recurrence is not known)

      – There are actually many ticks in Africa — in fact, Lyme disease is prevalent in more than 80 countries worldwide including Egypt, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, and Tunisia, among others — and there are many tick-borne diseases that can cause illness in humans (in addition to Lyme)

      – Our current diagnostics are flawed: The standard blood tests for Lyme measure infection-fighting antibodies, not bacteria, and miss up to 60% of acute cases of Lyme when antibodies may not be high enough to detect. Unfortunately that can mean false negatives during early stages, elevating the importance of clinical diagnosis with an informed physician who can assess the full range of symptoms.

      We recommend that you speak to your physician or health care provider and share as much information as possible. They will best be able to guide you. Best wishes!

  5. I haven’t had any rashes, however, I have experienced an overwhelming amount of Lyme symptoms. I’ve gotten bloodwork, which tested positive for Epstein-Barr (mono) (high IGG) and for mycoplasma pneumoniae. I have been severely ill for 7 weeks now and am trying to find closure.The medication I am on for Mono and pneumonia is not seeming to help me. Should I continue testing for Lyme although the test came back negative? The reason I ask that is because a friend I know has Lyme, has the same symptoms as me, and tested positive for Epstein-Barr as well as Pneumonia before she was diagnosed with Lyme …

    1. Hi Robyn, We would strongly encourage you to further consult with your doctor or health care provider. Do you have memory of a tick bite or being in a potential tick habitat? It is certainly possible to have a false negative from the standard Lyme test particularly in the early-stage of infection when the antibodies may not have had time to develop in your body. It can take your body up to two months to develop enough antibodies to be detected by these tests, leading to a false negative. Lyme disease is typically and most accurately assessed based on clinical diagnosis in combination with laboratory tests. Providing your doctor with a detailed description of the initial bite or infection and any and all symptoms will help with the diagnosis. We wish you the best of health.

    2. The virus & other diagnosis are usually a co-infection with Lyme. Sounds like you have it to me. You need a test by IGeneX for LYME, then find a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor. Most doctors know nothing about Lyme and cannot treat it.

  6. I visited my daughter in Missouri and one day scratched my stomach not thinking anything about it. We were there for 2 weeks and she told me to not go near the tree because it has ticks so I never went near it but I would go out on her porch to smoke (but was nowhere near the tree). We came back to Michigan and about a week later I noticed a pimple like bump in the same spot I had scratched while there and the next day boom the bulls eye rash appeared. Never did I see a tick but I assume I was bitten by one and have been tested and get my results on the 21st. My doctor has put me on antibiotics already because of the rash. And to add to the fire, I already have fibromyalgia and many other health issues like arthritis and it has already gotten worse. Does everyone who gets the bullseye rash get Lyme?

    1. Victoria, Bay Area Lyme Foundation is not a clinical organization and not in a position to comment on individual cases, however, it sounds like you were quick to follow up and get help from your doctor. A bullseye rash is endemic to Lyme disease, though there are many rashes that can look similar. [The CDC website has many images to reference.] Unfortunately, the current diagnostic tools are not reliable so your tests may or may not provide reassurance. However, early treatment with a sufficient course of antibiotics is key to successful eradication of the infection, so the fact that your doctor prescribed antibiotics already is beneficial. Do continue to monitor and keep your doctor aware of any changes in your symptoms. We wish you good health.

    2. YES YES — the red ring is a definitive sign. It could have been a tiny larvae and you scraped it off when you scratched. They are so tiny you can barely see them. They will crawl up on you from the ground. When they bite you, they emit a numbing saliva that prevents you feeling the bite. Mosquitoes, spiders, fleas, flies all carry Lyme. If not already you will need a test by IGeneX Labs. Most other tests are not reliable.

  7. Hi,

    So I will try to make this short sweet and to the point. A few months back, June 2017 to be exact, a small bump appeared on the side of my head.I thought at first it was a random pimple. It was painful and caused frequent headaches.The bump eventually turned into a large lump with a red dot in the middle. Very uncomfortable. I called it my second brain due to the size it reached (if you cut a golf ball in half). Eventually after almost 2 weeks it started to drain; gross, but relieving so then i assumed a random abscess. Once the lump went completely down, it healed within a month, only leaving me a bald spot with a red dot in the middle. Since this has happened, I go through spells. Sometimes I walk not even 10 steps and my legs, arms, etc just ache to the point of exhaustion. My heart races/pounds as if i just ran a mile. I’m not in great shape but im thin and 26 and have always had high energy. I get tired, like fatigue tired. to where i don’t wanna get up to even turn the light off. I also have spells where i feel like I’m burning up, as if the heat isn’t escaping my body. I get random hives on my face, back, and stomach. And I often have a terrible, constant ache running from the base of my skull, down my shoulders and spine. And, not sure if this is related but, I’ve been experiencing episodes of IBS [irritable bowel syndrome]. I’m not sure if any of this adds up and it’s not all happening at all times of the day but defiantly comes in variations (throughout each day sometimes a little and sometimes so severe i think I’m dying). Please let me know if any of this sounds like the possibility of Lyme disease. Sincerely, Crystal

    1. Hi Crystal, Unfortunately Bay Area Lyme Foundation is not a clinical organization and not in a position to diagnose individual patients but we would strongly encourage you to consult your doctor with this lengthy list of symptoms. If you have not already, it may be helpful to document each symptom more specifically — when first encountered, how severe, when/if it escalates and/or subsides, etc. Photos can also be helpful. If you believe you have been bitten by a tick, it would also be beneficial to share where you might have encountered that tick and whether you found/removed the tick attached to your body.

    2. Crystal, I have all these exact symptom including the “bump” on my head, that popped itself and gave me a bald patch… I seen a skin Dr for that, the only thing he said after the biopsy was that it isn’t cancerous. IBS [irritable bowel syndrome], tingling in extremities, headache, extreme hot flashes, fatigue, all of it. I’ve been to Drs at clinics, hospitals, etc. Zero diagnosis. However, I do believe I was bitten by a tick while camping, but I have zero rashes so I don’t really know. I’m Canadian and our government believes Lyme disease isn’t a real thing that happens so I will in all likelihood never be tested for it.

  8. I was bitten by a tic[k] two months ago. I didn’t even know it was a tic[k] because I didn’t actually feel it bite me … I remember coming home one day and I felt a small irritated bump on my back and saw it in the mirror and thought it was an irritated skin tag … I went to the doctor and he said I didn’t have a skin tag but in fact a tic[k] was feeding on me. ughhh!!! I felt grossed out and violated by this little insect. [Doctor] said I was lucky because it wasn’t the type of tic[k] that carries Lyme disease but still doctors can be wrong and although I don’t feel like I have symptoms, the area where the tick bit months ago is still somewhat disturbed and scabbed up so I am wondering if I should be cautious and set up or go to your location to be retested? I do not have the tic[k].

    1. Derek, Unfortunately Bay Area Lyme Foundation is not a clinical organization and we are not in a position to comment on individual cases, however, in general we recommend that patients that have been bitten by a tick continue to monitor for symptoms such as fever, joint pain, etc. (You can find a list of common symptoms here on our site.) The fact that your doctor was able to determine that the tick was not an Ixodes tick (the kind that carry Lyme) is reassuring, though many types of ticks do carry a myriad of bacteria. If you are not experiencing symptoms, that is good news! Insect bites andor allergic reactions can take some time to completely dissipate.

      Should you have other questions or concerns, we would urge you to consult your doctor.

    2. FYI, when a tick bites, they emit a numbing substance in their saliva so you do not feel them bite you. I hope doc gave you 8 weeks of doxycycline & a good probiotic. Did you see a red ring? If so, it means Lyme.

  9. If i have a 12-inch disc shaped red rash with a bite in the middle. What is the chance it is not a Lyme infection? It’s ichy and I pulled like part of an insect from the bite an hour after it happened.

  10. Hello there,

    I do not have a rash or a bite on my body but I did get bit by what I thought was a mosquito a few days ago. After my mom decided not to continue with her chemo (she’s doing fine, SE’s were just too much), my body crashed and burned. I’ve been sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night but I wake up exhausted. Tingling in my feet. Pain in my elbow joints but no swelling. Headaches as well, nothing several but all over my head that keeps returning. Slight confusion as well and difficulty driving a car. Does this sound like Lyme disease or just extreme stress?

    Thank you.

    1. Regina, Very sorry to hear of your illness. I am afraid Bay Area Lyme Foundation is not a clinical organization and not in a position to comment on individual cases or diagnoses. We would advocate that you speak to your care provider about all of your symptoms (and to take the time to note all details down while you remember to share with your doctor). You may also want to consider consulting the list of Lyme symptoms here. If needed, you can find referrals for doctors familiar with Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses here on the ILADS website. Best wishes.

  11. Hi, this will be long I’m sorry. I work at a children’s summer day camp at a school. We are hardly outside and when we are I almost always sit on a bench, pavement or bleacher. About a week ago (or maybe 1.5) I was sitting on tree stump on the playground. When I came back in my upper leg was itchy and I felt a sort of zapping pain on that spot. The nurse said she saw a little bite but no tick. For the rest of the day every so often I felt that painful zapping feeling in the area occasionally but there was no bump or rash. Now, a week or so later, I am very sick with a fever, Naseua, heachache and painful achiness and weakness across my body. There is still no visible rash anywhere on my body. How likely is it that a tick bit me?

    1. Grace, Sorry to hear about your sickness. Typically ticks will stay attached to feed for up to 3 days so the fact that you checked immediately and did not find a tick may be a good sign (though it is always possible that you could have been bitten days before and simply did not notice). The symptoms you describe are often associated with ticks and Lyme disease and other related infections but also other insect bites and/or allergic reactions. Many people infected with the bacteria do not get the expected skin rash. It would be important to know what type of ticks are prevalent where you live and we would recommend that you consult your doctor with as much information as possible about the location and symptoms — you will want to note where and when the bite occurred as well as duration and details of symptoms and when they first occurred and/or abated. (You may also find referrals to other specialists familiar with Lyme and tick-borne illnesses on the ILADS site here.) Best wishes.

  12. A small footnote for you:

    Dr. Erich Traub was a medical research scientist in Germany in the 1940s and the head of Hitler’s “Germ warfare” division, and often presented to Hitler. During the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial (end of WWII), Allan Dulles established “Project Paper Clip” — a covert operation that smuggled out 2,200 Nazi scientists and medical personnel (many of whom had responsibilities for “research” in the concentration camp system), and were given false documentation claiming they were never members of the Nazi Party. Dr. Traub was among them and was relocated to the United States under a false identity and employed by the US Federal Government.

    In 1954 Dr. Traub was made Director of Plum Island Research Facility, off Long Island, New York. Dr. Traub’s specialty during the war was tick research — weaponizing ticks to debilitate populations that were being invaded by the Nazis in WWII.

    Dr. Traub spent two years as director Plum Island (“agricultural” facility focusing on TICK RESEARCH) — releasing vectors for experimental purposes to the surrounding area. We can surmise that Lyme, Connecticut received the fruits of his experimental success!

    Lyme Disease is a US Government developed biological weapon. Millions of dollars have been invested in Lyme Disease weaponizing. It is no accident that NO FINANCIAL INCENTIVE EXISTS TO MEDICALLY !


    George Balogh
    Chronic Lyme recipient
    self-treating with P.E.M.F. and RIFE technologies

  13. My wife got a tick bite a few months ago. A week ago out of nowhere an ichi penny size bump in her leg show up. It went away but was left with a purple bruise then a week after another in her upper chest. Same thing went away. Now today another one in her hand but now the bump looks a little red and we can kinds see an outer circle. The tick bite was no where close to these areas. What are the possibilities of it being Lyme? We think there is probably a spider going around. Can a tick bite in one spot but marks show else where ?

    1. Zac, Bay Area Lyme is not a clinical organization and not able to offer advice on individual cases so we would advise you speak to your care provider if your wife continues to have symptoms. You may also want to consult the images on the CDC website that show what a Lyme rash looks like. In general, a Lyme rash does emanate from the location of the tick bite (and can then spread from there). Spider bites do not typically show up in large numbers (usually just 1-2). Do keep track of any related symptoms to share with your doctor. You can see a list of common Lyme disease symptoms here on our website. Best wishes.

    2. Sounds like Lyme that transmitted several different infections. There are many co-infections that ride along with Lyme.

  14. My husband and I were at an activity in the woods yesterday. When we got home, a teeny black tick had attached to his arm. I checked me and found nothing. Today, I have a lump at the top of my head, approximately 1/2 inch in diameter and it has an indentation in the middle. My husband checked through my hair with a magnifying glass, but couldn’t tell if a tick could have burrowed in. I already have Lyme disease from a former tick bite. I am worried and have to leave on a plane in two days. If you can’t see a hole in the bump, or a little black body, should I not worry?

    1. Lonna, Bay Area Lyme is not a clinical organization and not equipped to offer individual diagnostic or treatment advice so we would encourage you to speak to your care provider. In general, however, it is common for a victim of a tick bite to never see the tick or feel the bite and only notice once a rash or other symptoms arise. The ticks can be quite tiny (nymphs as small as a poppy seed) and their saliva has a numbing agent that may make a bite go unnoticed though the ticks often stay attached for 1-3 days. Your doctor will be best equipped to assess your symptoms and determine if antibiotics are necessary (photos and/or all details are helpful, try to note when you noticed any symptoms and changes as well as jotting down details about when and where you think you may have encountered the ticks, you may want to hold onto the information in case symptoms manifest later). Best wishes!

  15. What I’m trying to understand is if these rash presentations are flat or raised at all. It’s not made clear here, nor by Dr. Aucott in his description on Science Friday that I recently heard.

    1. Lyme rashes are typically flat, not raised, but there can be a bump where the bite occurred. Lingering infections can also crust over leaving a rough feel to the rash. If you have any questions, we encourage you to consult your doctor or health care provider. best wishes.

  16. My son came home from school yesterday with a swollen red weeping rash on his stomach, he doesn’t know what happened but said he was learning outside on the field yesterday the only thing I could think of is a tick bite but he doesn’t remember being bitten :/

    1. Very sorry to hear about the rash. Certainly there are many things that can cause skin rashes — from poison oak or ivy to insect bites to allergic reactions — and we would encourage you to consult both the Lyme rash images on the CDC website and the list of Lyme disease symptoms here on our site. Unfortunately, most victims do not recall being bitten as the ticks can be as small as a poppy seed and the ticks secrete a numbing agent in their saliva. You are best advised to monitor the symptoms and consult your doctor if they do not improve or worsen.

  17. My 2-year-old son had a tick bite in the fold behind his ear. The tick was engorged. I did my best to pull him out but the head was left behind. I cleaned the area very well for weeks. He constantly scratches it. He is telling me his ear hurts. He was tested for Lyme 3 week after being bit. The test came up negative. The doctor told me his rash was dry skin, which I thought I caused by cleaning the area to much. I stopped using peroxide and started using eczema cream on it. It only got worse. I took him to the hospital at that point because he had already went to the pediatrician twice for this. They did not retest but the doc was puzzled by the rash and prescribed amoxicillin for 10 days and a topical ointment. His rash is like the spotted one in the pic above. I’m afraid we got a false reading. Will the amoxcillin take care of it if it is Lyme?

    1. Hi Sheena, Hopefully your son’s symptoms have abated and you are on a path to recovery. Typically antibiotics, if taken early and through a sufficient course will be effective at beating Lyme disease but cases vary significantly. We would encourage you to speak with your doctor if the symptoms persist and/or resume. You may also want to make sure to document all symptoms (when they occurred, how long they lasted, pictures if possible, etc.). We also would recommend that you might compare your son’s rash with the images of Lyme rashes on the CDC website and/or consider speaking with Lyme specialist. You can find referrals for physicians in your area on the ILADS website. We wish you and your son a healthy future!

    2. Yep, false reading. Doctors don’t know. General public know a lot more than doctors do. Tests are inaccurate. He needed 6-8 weeks of doxycycline & this would have probably knocked the Lyme out of him. But if not treated properly in a short time it can become CHRONIC and no cure.

  18. I got a tick bite a few years ago but at the time I thought it was just an allergic reaction so I didn’t think much of it. Is it possible to get the rash but not get Lyme disease? (I had 3 of 5 of those pictures at one point though out about 2 weeks). I already had the symptoms before due to other issues so it’s hard to say.. What do you think?

    1. Bay Area Lyme Foundation is not a clinical organization and can not comment on individual cases however the following information might be helpful. In general, the Lyme rash is both specific to, and affirmatively indicative of, the infection. However, there are many types of insect bites and allergic reactions that can precipitate similar-looking skin rashes and you are best advised to consult your doctor with the photos and a description of all related symptoms to appropriately diagnose your situation. If your care provider is not well versed in Lyme disease, you may also want to consult the physician referral service offered by ILADS. We wish you the very best.

  19. Ok, I remember when I was in middle school (like 18 years ago) I had a bullseye rash on my leg after I was bitten by something. My mom thought it was a spider bite and we never did anything about it. I don’t remember getting sick after that either. It wasn’t until a few years ago where I started getting MS-like symptoms that I asked for a Lyme test from my primary MD. It was negative. I feel better now that my stress is under control and I don’t work the night shift but I was never officially tested for MS. Symptoms were vague: dizziness, anxiety, muscle twitching, and tremors. My question is, does having a bullseye bite mean I was bitten by a tick with Lyme and that I have Lyme that’s dormant? Can a bullseye bite mean anything else? What test should I ask for?

    1. Hi Carrie, Unfortunately, Bay Area Lyme is not equipped to advise individual patients and we would strongly encourage you to consult your care providers with as much detailed information as you can about any symptoms you may have experienced, including references to the CDC rash images (found here) that most resemble your rash. There are other factors that will prompt a skin rash (including a spider bite or allergic reaction) and many conditions that can cause these type of symptoms (part of what makes diagnosis for Lyme so complicated?!). It may be helpful to have a more comprehensive blood panel to rule out the possibility of Lyme or any related co-infections. You may also want to consult a physician familiar with Lyme disease and can find local area physician recommendations here. We wish you the best of health.

    2. Many times Lyme is misdiagnosed as MS…It could have been a spider, mosquito, or any insect bite. Most tests are not accurate so you get a False Negative result…Get a Lyme Literate Medical Doc quick.

  20. Feeling somewhat bewildered and just wishing to share my story, I guess… My rollercoaster of a journey started on Saturday 28/06/14. Had been to a Wirral school summer fair all day and, amongst other things, had lugged hay bales around the school field to set up various stalls. A full day ended with a spontaneous evening BBQ in a friend’s garden, where I spotted something strange and dark on my ankle. I just brushed it off, not thinking much of it. I looked at my ankle a few moments later to see a pin head of blood and remembered thinking, “Well, whatever ‘it’ was, it’s gone and bitten me..” Tuesday, 1/7/14 I got a rash in the place I was bitten. Rash was about 3 inches in diameter, hot, swollen, and resembled a bulls eye (took a picture and sent it to my mum, not feeling very impressed) and felt under-the-weather.. Googled the insect at this point and realised it was actually a tick which had bitten me.

    Rash cleared up after a while and then a catalogue of things started to happen.. Went to drs end of July’14, was prescribed antibiotics for laryngitis and bronchitis, was off work for a short time. Sept/Oct, had fatigue, neck pain, headaches, joint and muscle pain. Then facial numbness/pain, teeth pain, numbness in fingers and pins/needles, IBS symptoms, eyesight diminished, eye twitches.

    Dec’14. Norvo virus. Xmas’14 could barely get out of bed. New Year’s Eve ’14, lymph nodes in neck painful, joints painful, could hardly stand but took Lemsips. Jan’15, was signed off work for 2 weeks with a severe chest infection. Feb ’15, interstitial cystitis started on/off for months but no bacteria present. Then, my right arm started having weird sensations which went on for weeks. A job change had me on a full time training course in Sept ’15, but it was hard to remember things, listen, concentrate and stay awake. I ended up at Drs 13/11/15 extremely depressed. Dr did full blood MOT. Only test which came back abnormal was Prolactin. Neck X-ray showed nothing abnormal for my age (47), nerve conduction test showed carpel tunnel and, in conclusion, doctor was going to give me a diagnosis of fibromyalgia or CFS/ME…

    End of Jan’ 16, my mum watched a TV programme on Lyme disease and suggested I speak to my Dr. My Dr had no knowledge of Lyme and sought help from other professionals. A Lyme test showed positive but I was referred to the Infectious Disease Dept. in Lpool. Full symptoms discussed and photo of rash shown, but the suspected CFS not Lyme.

    My case was discussed in private. A further test for Lyme was carried out and whilst awaiting the result, I was prescribed 2 weeks of Doxycycline. I heard back shortly after with a negative Lyme result and was diagnosed with CFS by the Infectious Disease Dept. I still have symptoms, mainly fatigue and arthritis of lower back, but I can’t help but think I did or possibly still do have Lyme… thank you…

    1. Lisa, thank you for sharing your story. Every story shared helps others learn more about the disease and its symptoms. As you have already noted, knowledge and understanding of Lyme (and other tick-borne diseases) is far too limited and the disease can be infuriatingly difficult to diagnose correctly. You are right to be vigilant and we wish you the best of health and fortitude to continue to fight for resolution.

    2. It’s lyme. Doctors, hospitals do not know and don’t seem to want to know the facts about lyme. Every symptom you have spells LYME. You should have had at least 8 weeks of DOXYCYCLINE.

  21. Hello! I am deeply concerned. I run long distances for a living and getting sick would be the end of my career. The other day I was running in the woods and noticed something sort of bit my hip in the car. I looked over and saw a deer tick sinking its unforgiving teeth into me. I immediately pulled over and used tweezers to remove the pest. He was only on me for no more than maybe 8 to 10 minutes. Its been two days since and I am developing a small red zone in that area. Could I have contracted the disease in such a short amount of time? I also have the tick in a plastic bag at home.

    1. Joseph, Bay Area Lyme Foundation is not a clinical entity and is not able to advise individual patients so your best strategy would be to consult your physician. (You an also find a list of Lyme-familiar doctors in your local geography here).

      Not all ticks are infected with Lyme disease (the percentage varies considerably based on geographic location).* And many insect bites will cause redness or swelling at the site of the bite, especially if there is an allergic reaction. The erythema migrans, an expanding circular red skin rash (though not necessarily a bullseye), is distinctive to Lyme, though many Lyme patients will never show any rash at all. Refer to the CDC website for more images or Lyme rashes and lookalikes. You should be sure to inform your doctor of having witnessed and removed the attached tick and may want to have it tested if you still have it. (Ticks can be tested dead or alive at service providers such as IGeneX and Tick Report or possibly your local county vector control service.)

      You will also want to watch for and document/alert your care provider of any other symptoms (see here for a list of common Lyme disease symptoms).

      We wish you the best of health and a clean diagnosis.

  22. About a year ago, I got bit by a tick, but did not discover it on me for a week. I figured it had been there for about a week, since the tick was huge and it was 1 week that I had been walking through a weedy area. [The tick] was fat, and about the size of a big raisin. I removed it, and directly went to E.R. All they did was take a look to make sure it was all removed. Refused to give me a blood test, because they said if it comes back negative, that doesn’t mean I wont still get Lyme disease later. I have had no major symptoms of Lyme disease since. They did give me 1 pill, I believe they said it was a strong antibiotic that would help prevent it [Lyme]. I have had no symptoms of Lyme disease. My question is, is there still a chance I could get Lyme from a bite a year ago? Could symptoms still occur? What worries me is the fact that it was feeding off me for about 1 week.

    1. Cindy, Bay Area Lyme is not a clinical organization and can not comment on individual cases, however, you may want to consult the following information about the symptoms of Lyme disease. Lyme symptoms vary and frequently mimic those of other illnesses. In addition, ticks can carry other infections besides Lyme disease that also have a wide array of symptoms. Typically, symptoms manifest within a matter of days or weeks, though late-stage Lyme symptoms can first appear much later. Your best strategy is always to share as much information as you can with your regular health care provider (including details about the tick, when and where you likely encountered it, and any potential symptoms). They can diagnose Lyme disease based on clinical presentation of symptoms and/or order the necessary tests. If at any point, you begin experiencing symptoms, you need to be vigilant in communicating with your doctor to ensure appropriate treatment. If your care provider is not familiar with Lyme, you may want to consult a physician who is — you can find local referrals for physicians familiar with Lyme disease here.

    2. I had a bullseye rash 2 and a half months ago, been on antibiotics since and am still suffering symptoms. I finally went to get blood work and apparently I am negative for the antibodies. My doctor wants me to see an infectious disease specialist but they won’t see me without positive test results. What is my next step?

  23. Is it possible for a rash to come back after treatment for Lyme Disease? My toddler was eventually treated for Lyme Disease last month (two weeks of antibiotics) after a spreading rash that after four weeks went from the back of her head to her face and every lymph node on her head and neck was swollen. She had several ticks pulled off of her this summer, and one bug bite (possible tick, I only saw the scab) on the back of her head located by the first lymph node to swell and first rash. She finished antibiotics the last week of October, but just last night the rash on her face reappeared and is spreading again. It’s like it was before – very red and “hot” looking. Her regular pediatrician thinks I am crazy. It was 2 other doctors in the practice that eventually diagnosed and treated her. I don’t know what to do!

    1. Emily, very sorry to hear about your little one’s suffering. Unfortunately there are conflicting views about whether a rash recurrence is evidence of a relapse or an entirely new infection (which may be likely if you reside in an endemic area), however, a skin rash is indicative of an active infection and should be diagnosed and treated. Please note, Bay Area Lyme is not a clinical entity and can not diagnose individual cases. We would advocate you find a physician familiar with Lyme disease and you/they may want to consult the ILADS Treatment Guidelines, now available here on the National Guideline Clearinghouse. You can find local physician referrals here and you may also want to consult the CDC site for images of Lyme rashes and infection information. We wish you and your baby the best of health.

  24. Hi.. I have a question. A typical blood test may indicate that I have an active infection? I mean, I have symptoms of Lyme and five months ago had a rash but my blood count is normal. Anything into parameters [indicating that] it does mean I have no/any infection?

    1. Hi Laura, The standard CDC-approved diagnostic for Lyme disease is a two-part blood test called the ELISA/Western Blot. Unfortunately these test are not foolproof and can miss up to 60% of acute cases when antibody levels may be too low to detect). So, we would certainly encourage you to talk to your doctor and have your blood tested if you have not already. Typically a skin rash [see photos here], is pathognemonic for diagnosis, and together with known exposure and/or other symptoms is generally sufficient for clinical diagnosis. Best wishes!

  25. Is it possible to have a tiny bullseye rash? I have seen the real deal because my son had it from a tick I discovered on him after a school field trip. This was in the UK where we live in a very rural area. He had antibiotics immediately. His rash was about an inch across. About two and a half years ago, I got a tiny, itchy bite on my inner wrist. We had travelled to MA (but I think I got the bite in the UK as I arrived with it). I noticed that several days later — when it had died down apart form a red dot that is still there now — a tiny bulls eye rash had developed around the bite. This was not more than a third to a half an inch across. I noticed it because of my son’s history, but dismissed it as I thought it was too small and I had seen no tick. However, much to my surprise I am now I am being tested for Lyme’s disease because I have many symptoms, including arthritis etc etc. I have tried to find out if any other insects can give a bulls eye rash. (PS it was not ring worm as I am familiar with that too)? Any thoughts? Are there other bites that can give the bullseye?

    1. Sandra, thank you for your inquiry.The bullseye shaped rash is believed to be pathognemonic to Lyme, meaning its presence signals a definitive diagnosis. However, a rash is usually not considered a bullseye until it is 5 cm across and expanding (5cm =~2 inches). It also must have central clearing to be considered a bullseye. Homogenous rashes, while more common than the bullseye in Lyme disease, can also have other causes, so a physician should be consulted. Unfortunately the Lyme-carrying ticks can be quite small (see the reference chart showing the lifestages and sizes here) and many go completely unnoticed. The tick emits an anesthetic substance in its saliva when it bites so you may never feel the bite. We strongly recommend that you document any and all symptoms (including when possible any photos of rashes — see this link for CDC images of rashes for comparison) and provide your doctor with any details about encounters with potential tick habitats (e.g., grass or wooded areas in the UK or during your travels) as your doctor will best be able to diagnose your situation. We wish you luck and health.

  26. Hello, A little more than a week ago, I noticed a bug bite on my arm. My skin was very red around the bite. In fact, the redness made a perfect circle around the bite and it had a diameter of approximately 1-2 inches (I did not measure but that’s my guess). However, the rash did not have the typical “bullseye” appearance that Lyme disease produces. I also did not find any ticks on me or in my bed. (I found the bite in the morning and am assuming that I was bitten in my bed, as I have not been in the woods or in tall grass recently.) The bite had a slight stinging sensation when I itched it too much. I went to the doctor the next day and they told me it was Lyme disease. They did not do any tests. They prescribed me antibiotics and I have been taking them ever since.

    However, a couple days ago, I found three more bug bites (all within centimeters of each other) on my other arm with the same red circles around them. Again, they were just red circles (not the bullseye) and they were flat, just like the original one (except these three were not as big and vibrant as the original one). I was going to go to the doctors again to ask them about it, but the next day the circles were almost completely faded. I never found any ticks anywhere.

    Now, I can only see little marks where the bug bites were. However, they are no longer itchy or big and red. I am still taking the antibiotics.

    To be honest, I have not experienced any Lyme disease symptoms. Is there a possibility that I could be getting bitten by a mosquito or some other type of bug? Maybe I am having an allergic reaction to something? Let me know what you think.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    1. Unfortunately Bay Area Lyme Foundation is not in the position to counsel or diagnose individual patients on their specific circumstances so we would certainly encourage you to continue to consult your doctor. It is quite common for Lyme disease to manifest with multiple skin rashes, not just in the location of the original bite and in forms that may not resemble the traditional bullseye shape most associated with the disease (most Lyme rashes do not have central clearing). Documenting any and all symptoms (what and when they occur, for how long, and how severe, etc.) as well as taking photos of any skin rashes will help your doctor diagnose your situation. The CDC also has images of different skin rashes on their website that you may find useful reference. Good luck and best of health!

  27. I got Lyme disease about 12 years ago, hiking on the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut. I got the tell-tale bullseye mark and was treated with antibiotics for a month and that was that. Recently, I found a deer-tick on my arm but there was no bullseye or any other mark. I don’t believe that the tick was on me for very long. I pulled it out but the pincers stayed embedded. This was about six weeks to a month ago. I’m leaving for China in a week, so getting tested for it here is not possible. A nurse told me that if I got the bullseye mark once then if I got Lyme again I would definitely get the bullseye, is that true? Also, I was thinking of just taking amoxicillin for three weeks when I got to China as I can get that over-the-counter. Not sure really what is best to do at the moment as the Lyme bacteria in China is different than here so I don’t know if I can be tested for it there.

    1. Unfortunately as much as 40-50% of infections never manifest with a bullseye rash so there is no guarantee that the absence of a bullseye means you are Lyme-free. If you are experiencing other symptoms (refer here for a list of common Lyme symptoms), particularly any joint or muscle pain, you should consult your doctor, who will best be able to advise you, including regarding which antibiotic would be most appropriate. Safe travels.

  28. I don’t ever recall being bitten by a tick nor ever do I recall a rash at all, but for the last 3 months I’ve been lightheaded and all the doctors said it was anxiety. I know my body better than anyone so I kept seeking medical attention as symptoms got worse. I began getting bad joint pain with my knees and elbows and bad headaches, also I am extremely tired all the time. I went to the ER today and from what I just stated they were almost certain it was Lyme disease. Does this seem accurate? They also took blood for a tick panel to check which takes three days for results, but they still placed me on doxycycline 100 every 12 hrs.

    1. Alex, I am afraid we are unable to comment on or diagnose individual cases, you would need to speak with a doctor. However, many of the symptoms you describe are consistent with Lyme disease and unfortunately it is far too common that ticks and tick bites go unnoticed, particularly the Lyme-carrying ticks as they are very small — can be the size of poppy seed, barely noticeable at all. (When the ticks bite they also secrete an anesthetic that numbs the skin so you may not even sense the bite.) Many patients do not recall ever being bitten. It is also true that the earlier you treat a Lyme infection, the more likely the treatment will be successful at eradicating the infection. You can find a referral for local physicians in your area that are familiar with Lyme disease here.

  29. Hello, A year ago I got bit by a tick. I’ve looked up picture and it resembles the blue red lesion and at times it swells and itches. I’ve gone to Dr and got negative results. I get constant headache and pain in bones once in a while what shall I do?

    1. Hello, Unfortunately you can get a false negative result, especially shortly after infection when the antibodies have not risen to sufficient levels to trigger the test. We would encourage you to reconsult your doctor, presenting as much detail as you can about all the related symptoms. You may also want to share some of the information on this website (Lyme disease symptoms, Lyme testing, .. ) or the CDC website if your doctor is not familiar with Lyme disease. You may also want to confer with a doctor who is more familiar with the disease and can find referrals for such physicians here. Best wishes for an accurate diagnosis and treatment!

  30. 10 years ago I got bitten by a tick, got a bullseye rash. Doctor did not give antibiotics as the test was negative. Am I in danger? I have symptoms…

    1. Not knowing what your symptoms are, it is impossible to say, but we would strongly encourage that you consult your physician or a doctor familiar with the disease (see here for a list of local referrals). The more you can document / detail any related symptoms, the better equipped your doctor will be to help you.

  31. My daughter had the bullseye rash about a year ago. She has been tested twice for Lyme Disease and the results have been negative. Initially we took her to the Emergency room and they put her on antibiotics for 6 weeks. Even since that day, she has been suffering from random symptoms off and on. It ranges from fevers, to random rash outbreaks, stiff necks, back pain, and fatigue. The random outbreak of rashes really concerns me because it happens almost weekly. I don’t know what to do or how to get her doctor to take it seriously when she has tested negative for the disease.

  32. So, I found a tick in my hair in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago, and I have this really big oval-shaped rash that spreads clockwise from the front middle of my right knee around the back of my knee and to the left side of that knee. It’s red around the outside and almost looks brownish in the whole middle (like how a bruise looks brownish blue). The red part looks slightly raised. I keep reading about different skin rashes but almost all of them involve dry skin, and it’s not dry or scaly at all. It never stops being itchy though I try not to touch it, and it can be warm to the touch at times, but it’s hard to tell if that’s because most of it is in the fold of my knee where it’s always warm. Is it possible to develop the “target” rash far away from the bite site? Or is this more likely some kind of allergic reaction?

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Typically a skin rash caused by a Lyme infection will originate near the location of the bite or point of infection but that is not always the case and it is not always easy to tell where you have been bitten (the tick could well have traveled up to your head after biting you elsewhere). We would recommend consulting a doctor or care provider whenever experiencing unfamiliar symptoms. You can best equip your doctor by taking detailed notes (and photos) of any symptoms — when they occurred, how severe, etc. You may also want to consult the list of other common Lyme disease symptoms and/or the rash pictures on the CDC website for reference. Let’s hope it is a minor allergic reaction and all is well!

  33. On July 5, 2016, I noticed a uniformly red lesion on my left arm. It was no larger than a dime. It was solid deep red with no inner circle. Went to my doctor a week later. He examined the area and said it was a insect bite, but recommended I wait it out for two weeks to see if the red lesion would resolve on its own. The reason for this is that I’m allergic to many antibiotics and he just didn’t want to take a chance, and decided the wait and see approach. Lesion stayed the same size and did not get any larger. I have no other symptoms, and presently, the rash appears as a very lite pink circle and, almost skin color, but can still see the outline of the circle. I have another appointment tomorrow as follow-up. Is it possible that may be Lyme disease or is this “wishful thinking”? Thank you for your time.

    1. I meant to say in my last comment, last sentence: “Is it possible that this may not be Lyme Disease or is this just ‘wishful thinking?’.

      Sorry for the typing error.

    2. Hi Bob, we can not diagnose your specific case, but can confirm a few things:
      (1) the erythema migrans (EM) or skin rash caused by the Lyme infection is known to last anywhere from 3-30 days;
      (2) The rash typically appears within a few days of the tick bite, however but not in all cases;
      (3) As many as 20-40% of infected patients (depending on where you live) never see a rash at all.

      The best suggestion would be to speak with your doctor, sharing all the facts that you have regarding the appearance and evolution of any relevant symptoms. You may also want to refer to the list of common Lyme symptoms here or this page for more information about talking with your doctor.

      We wish you the best of luck.

  34. On July 5, 2016, I took notice, on my upper left arm, of a completely red, uniform spot (just like your example). It was no larger then a dime and did not get any larger, nor did it develop an inner circle. Since I’m allergic to many antibiotics, my doctor told me to call him if it didn’t clear up in two weeks. It’s been over two weeks since my visit to the doctor and I made a follow-up appointment as spot has diminished immensely but you can still see a light pink circle at the present time. No fatigue, aches or pains, but still concerned that I may have Lyme Disease. Thank you for your time.

    1. Sounds like you are doing the right thing in seeing your doctor, Kathy. They can best assess you. Best wishes!

  35. Dear Bay Area Lyme: Hi, I have a question: Does the Lyme disease spread even if the tick bited u for a short period (like a couple of hours) and then u remove it? I’m asking this because I had a rash on my left arm, not a bullseye, more like a ring, but I thought it was a pimple. I don’t know if a tick bit me. I noticed it because it was so itchy. Two days after, to be precise, I started developing a real heavy flu and I barely get sick. After I recovered from the flu a week later a rash appeared on my foot. But still I didn’t feel tired at all. I kinda feel strong, restless, and energetic, which i don’t know if it’s a counter-effect, you know one of those cases where you feel well but it’s because the sickness is messing with something important. I’m gonna see a doctor but if u guys can let me know I’ll appreciate it.

    1. Hi Raph, While we are not equipped to give you specific clinical advice, many of your symptoms sound concerning and we would encourage you to speak with your doctor, especially if you have been outside in any area where you may have come into contact with ticks. The erythema migrans (EM) or skin rash that comes from Lyme disease does typically begin at the point of infection (or where the tick would have bitten you), however, ticks can be very small, and they have a numbing agent in their saliva meaning that you may have been bitten without knowing or ever discovering the guilty culprit. You may also want to take a peek at some of the images of Lyme disease skin rashes on the CDC website to see how yours might compare. If you still have a rash, you might also want to take a photo to show your doctor — and carefully note any and all symptoms (date / time, description, severity, etc.). Best wishes.

  36. Hi, I woke the other day and realised my thigh was hurting in one spot (I did not see a tick). There was a rash, pretty similar to a ‘bullseye’ rash (oval, lighter in the middle, and a spot in the centre), but quite small (like a coin). I’ve googled it a lot, and some Lyme disease pictures definitely resemble it a lot. I have two questions: (1) My rash has not started expanding like it is described on many webpages. Can it still be Lyme disease even if it doesn’t expand? (2) Do I wait for other symptoms (have none at the moment) or is it good to see the doctor immediately anyway? Thanks.

  37. Hi Vijaya, Unfortunately there are many ways to have false test results — both positive and negative (one of the many reasons we are working so hard for better diagnostics!). The bullseye is a fairly definitive symptom of an active infection at some point so we would strongly encourage you to speak with your physician (or obtain a referral for a physician familiar with tick-borne diseases here) to discuss all of your symptoms, the possibility of any lingering or other related infections, and appropriate treatment, if you are still suffering. Because the blood test is unreliable, doctors are encouraged to make a ‘clinical diagnosis’ in late stage, untreated, disseminated Lyme disease. The more information you can provide your doctor with regarding the form, timing, and occurrence of symptoms, the better!

  38. Hi earlier I posted my concern with the tick bite, and bullseye rash I had couple of years ago. But Western blot test result came up negative. So that can be counted as there is no Lyme infection? With other symptoms like neck stiffness and joint pains still in place?

  39. My sister was bitten by a tick a couple of years ago and developed the bullseye rash on her back. Is it too late to be treated or to eradicate the disease?

    1. We would advise that your sister speak with her clinician. If by chance she has a photo of the rash, we would also recommend sharing that, along with a record of any related symptoms. You may want to consult the list of common Lyme disease symptoms here. Later-stage infections are more complicated to treat and may require sophisticated management but if there are no other signs of active infection, the immune system may have effectively eliminated the bacteria. You will likely want to speak with a physician who is familiar with Lyme disease and can find physician referrals in your local area here. Best wishes.

  40. I once developed a bullseye rash in response to what I assumed to be a tick (that was not found). I took a dose of antibiotic. Recently, I have found two small ticks who have bitten me. They produced a small welt — like a bug bite, but no bullseye. If someone gets the bullseye reaction once, will they always produce that reaction when it is Lyme? Could these other ticks not be diseased?

    1. Hi Kerry, A Lyme infection will not always present with a skin rash of any kind, never mind a bullseye, and just because you have had a reaction before does not mean you will always get a rash. In fact, it has been shown that in some regions — including the west coast — the likelihood of presenting a rash is less than 50%. And, ticks can carry a myriad of diseases in addition to Lyme.

      We are not really sure why sometimes people get an EM rash and sometimes they don’t. It could be variations in the strains of the Borrelia bacteria, the combination of the Borrelia bacteria with other coinfections, the condition of individual immune systems, …

      If you ever have a known tick-bite, you definitely should monitor for symptoms (see the list of common Lyme disease symptoms here) and consult your doctor about any concerns. Best wishes.

  41. Hi, I don’t know where to ask, or even if i could ask this question to anyone… I was bitten by a tick two years back. I washed the area of the bite and applied some spirit. Two months after the tick bite, there is a bullseye rash the “size of bangle.” I just ignored it and again cleaned the bitten area with hydrogen peroxide and spirit. Later, I took some over-the-counter ointments to heal it. Lately I am getting bad aches and joint pains, pains shooting near the joints even in the middle of sleep. And my neck muscles will be burning painful in the mornings, on either side. Is there any place/lab we could go for a test?? or does it have to be only through referred doctor? Still, I am not sure if these symptoms are of my bad eating habits or something carrying from that tick bite I got two years back. I can feel my joints getting worse day by day.

    1. Vijaya, unfortunately the bullseye skin rash is a fairly definitive clinical indication of a Lyme infection and left untreated could mean that there are parasites still causing havoc in your system. To have your blood tested, you would need to be seen by a referring physician and they should run a full battery of tests to assess for Lyme and the related tick-borne co-infections. If you need help finding a doctor, you can click here for a list of local physician referrals and prior to your visit you may also want to to consult the information here about talking with your doctor or here about the types of blood tests. We hope you can help from your doctor and some relief. Best wishes.

  42. I have the classic bullseye rash and I am being treated with antibiotics. Does the rash mean I 100-percent have Lyme disease? Or, can you have the rash and not have Lyme disease?

    1. Yes, the bullseye is a definitive indicator of Lyme disease. Even if you do not have a positive blood test, the bullseye is sufficient to clinically diagnose the illness. Please take a picture of the rash and show it to your doctor to ensure that you receive the appropriate course of antibiotics. Best wishes for a quick recovery.

      Please note: Bay Area Lyme is compiling a photo archive of images of Lyme- and related-skin rashes which will help both scientists and the general public further understand this frustrating disease. If you would like to contribute, please send a .jpeg or .png of your rash with any relevant classifying information (# days after tick-bite, location on body, geographic location of tick encounter, any confirmed co-infections, etc.) to Thank you for your help!

  43. After waking up one morning and getting ready to shower, it was not hard to miss the four or five maybe-2.5″ bullseyes on my chest. And turning to my back, there were another four or five similar marks. After having showered and called the doctor, I went in to see the doctor. Doctor said he’d never seen anything like it and suggested Lyme disease. He took blood for Western Blot test and started me on antibiotics. The blood came back positive for Lyme disease. Now I’m in this threshold area of being a carrier. How do I know when I move out of that threshold without any symptoms or indications of being infected again??

    1. Robert, while unfortunate to have been bitten, it is reassuring that you both noticed the skin rash and also had a doctor informed enough to investigate and treat your Lyme disease. When caught early, a sufficient course of antibiotics (typically 21-30 days) is highly effective at killing the bacteria and you should expect to return to health, though you should also be checked for any potential co-infections as ticks often carry more than one disease.

      Unfortunately, once-bitten does not make one immune, so you need to continue to practice careful prevention and monitor for ticks or symptoms. In some cases, symptoms do persist even after treatment, a condition known as post treatment Lyme disease — a situation you would want to discuss with your doctor about if you experience ongoing ailments. You may want to refer to the Lyme disease symptoms page on our website for a list of common symptoms, particularly for late-stage Lyme which could occur should treatment not be successful, allowing the bacteria to spread.

      We wish you a quick return to health.

  44. About two weeks ago, I noticed my neck was a little stiff; then, days later, the sore muscles set in EVERYWHERE. I would expect these symptoms if I worked out, but I don’t.

    Last night, I started itching and a dark red rash developed on my left forearm and left leg, particularly around my wrist and knee. At first I thought spider bite, then poison ivy or oak. Now, I’m not so sure. About anything. ALL I DO KNOW IS MY LEFT KNEE AND WRIST ARE SEVERELY INFLAMED AND HOT TO THE TOUCH. THEY BOTH HAVE A LITTLE NUMBNESS AND STING AND BURN REALLY BAD. THE ITCHING HAS INCREASED TOO. Hydrocortisone helps for a minute then it’s back to the nightmare.

    I practically live outside when weather permits and often take long walks in the woods. The symptoms are extreme and now I am afraid because I have no insurance and am very uncomfortable. I will not ever scold a child for scratching ever again. What should I do?? PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

    1. Melissa, We are sorry to hear about your symptoms and hope you soon find resolution. Unfortunately Bay Area Lyme is not a clinical organization and we can not diagnose or counsel you on individual health circumstances but we certainly would encourage you to speak to a doctor or health care provider, especially if you have been in areas where you may have been exposed to ticks (as it sounds you have). We would also encourage you to carefully document all of your symptoms as best as possible. Note down when you observed each symptom and the duration and severity, etc. Also take photos of any skin rashes to present to your care provider. The more information you can give them, the better able they will be to help diagnose your situation. You may wish to refer to the following page about speaking with your doctor and/or may also be interested in accessing this directory to find a care provider who is familiar with Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. We wish you the very best of health.

  45. Hi! About a week ago we found a small tick in the bed, and figuring the dog brought it in, we killed it. I had an itchy spot on my rib cage around the same time that looked sort of like a flea bite (a little raised welt) that went away after a couple of days and I didn’t think much about it. About 4 days ago, I woke up with what I thought was a crick in my neck. It has grown worse and now my entire neck is sore especially on the left side. My knees have also been hurting and I have what feels like a dehydration headache. I suffer from migraines and it’s definitely not a migraine — more like an all-over hangover headache. At the movies tonight, I couldn’t get comfortable due to my knees and neck pain. I never had any rash and I know a lot of people don’t have rashes, but would the pains come up this quickly (1 week). Thank you!

    1. Hi Laura,

      Unfortunately Bay Area Lyme is a research foundation (not a clinical organization) so we can not offer medical advice or diagnostic opinions, but would strongly encourage you to consult your doctor or medical caregiver. It may be helpful to document your symptoms and even take photos of any skin rashes so that you can share with your doctor.

      Best wishes,
      Bay Area Lyme

  46. I was bitten by a deer tick, on my abdomen. I removed the tick and then the bullseye rash developed. I looked for [other] symptoms, but didn’t seem to get them. A year later, I removed another deer tick. Concerned, I went to the Dr. They did a test, but said I did not have Lyme disease, according to the test results. Now, I have chronic fatigue. I hike a lot and keep feeling that I will build up muscle tone, but it just doesn’t seem to happen. I continue to have chronic muscle fatigue. I sleep for 2-3-hour restless periods of time each night and my short term memory is not great. The other day someone asked who my husband worked for and I could not recall. Is it possible to get the bullseye rash and not have Lyme disease? From Northern Virginia.

    1. Hi Holly, it is a good question. Certainly it is possible to have Lyme disease without a confirming test result — unfortunately current diagnostics miss as many as 60% of acute cases and patients can even be tested more than once before presenting a positive test result. The rash, or Erythema migrans (EM), as this post indicates also is not present in all cases of Lyme disease — more than a quarter of infected patients never report seeing any sort of skin rash. However, the bullseye (with central clearing) and a tick bite is a symptom that is particular to Lyme and an important diagnostic attribute. If you have any pictures of the rash, we would encourage you to share those photos with your doctor, but in any event you should make sure to consult your doctor if you continue to experience symptoms. You may also wish to consult the CDC website for more information.

      Click here for some information about talking with your doctor.
      If you would like a physician referral, we would recommend the ILADs directory, [you can find more information here].

      Best wishes and good health.
      Bay Area Lyme

    1. Hi Iris, Yes, rashes can develop elsewhere on the body. When people are really sick, they often get multiple rashes all over the body, days after the tick bite. But people can also get infected without a rash manifesting, a problem that complicates many diagnoses. If there was known exposure to tick habitat, we would advise that you carefully document the rash (take photos), continue to monitor for other symptoms, and speak to your doctor or health care provider about your concerns. You can also compare pictures of the rash to those available on the CDC website.

    2. Hi Steven, Yes the rashes can fade, with or without treatment, but the rash or its disappearance may not indicate either the persistence or elimination of the infection and you should certainly consult a doctor if you have had a suspicious rash, particularly if there was a known tick bite or you were exposed in a potential tick habitat.

    3. I had a rash on my neck in a circular pattern, went to the doctor after it spread so much that it was concerning, he removed a small tick from the central area of the rash and said it definitely was a deer tick. At the time I was having numerous cramps in my lower legs and feet, my neck blistered and itched, painful area, have felt periods of being tired but at the age of 62 that’s normal, blood test does not show positive for lyme so does that mean that I don’t have it?

    4. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges with Lyme disease is the lack of accurate diagnostics. The most widely-used diagnostic testing regime for Lyme disease is the two-tier serological ELISA/Western Blot process, which measures antibodies that form against the pathogen but it is known to miss up to 60% of acute cases, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the bite when the antibodies may not yet have formed.

      However, if the tick was still attached, it could also just be an allergic reaction and not an infection. How long the tick was attached is key to whether it could have passed the Lyme bacteria or any other related infections. You should definitely consult your doctor or a Lyme-knowledgeable physician (see here for a list of referrals) and advise them of your symptoms. They can determine what additional tests and /or treatments would be appropriate.

  47. I’m so frustrated at the moment. Was diagnosed with fibromyalgia five years ago. Symptoms getting worse. Had a total hysterectomy two years ago to relieve some of my symptoms. I’ve got a rash on my legs that I can recall starting as bites around the same time as my diagnoses, but as I have quite bad psoriasis on my legs I never really noticed it properly till about 2 years ago. I am trying to get a diagnosis for Lyme, but the blood test came back negative. The rash is spreading and looks the exact same as Lyme disease. Can also tick all the boxes for symptoms. I’m waiting on skin biopsy but dermatologist thinks it is something else? Can anyone help?

    1. Have you tried getting an iSpot Lyme test done? These are usually found through functional medicine doctors.

    2. I had a bullseye and it grew all over my chest and bigger so I went to the doctor and they said I had Lyme disease. I was really scared. Sometimes I have pain in my leg. My stepdad also has it, he has been diagnosed twice now. I feel bad but this summer is really going to be bad. Be prepared to get 2-3 diagnosed Lyme infections. I’m only 10! Now because of this I have to get blood drawn every year from now on as of 2017.

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