Perhaps the most well-known symptom of Lyme disease is a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye. The scientific name for this rash is erythema migrans. It occurs in 70-80 percent of people infected by a tick bite. The area directly around the tick bite may be red and raised and look like a normal bug bite. The rash often spreads in a circular pattern that’s lighter in the center and darker on the outer ring. However, not everyone who gets Lyme disease gets the target-shaped rash.
Classic signs of early Lyme disease include:
- muscle aches
Symptoms can start at any time between three and 30 days after infection. The incubation period can also lead to confusion about your symptoms. If you don’t remember being bitten, you may think you have the flu and you may not connect the tick bite and your symptoms.
Some people with Lyme disease experience other, more advanced symptoms of the illness. Joint pain, especially in the knees, and a stiff neck may occur in the early-symptom stage or several months after your tick bite. Severe headaches and shooting pain in your body may keep you up at night. Dizziness and changes in your heart rate or rhythm are also advanced symptoms of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease that isn’t treated for several months can lead to more serious problems, including those that affect the nervous system. Bell’s palsy, the loss of muscle function in your face, is a neurological complication of Lyme disease. People with Bell’s palsy sometimes look like they’ve had a stroke because they can’t move the muscles on one side of their face. Movement problems, especially in the arms and legs, can also occur.
Heart problems and inflammation of the eyes and liver are rare but possible in late-stage Lyme disease.