Lyme Disease Fact Sheet

Revised July, 2013
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How can I avoid Lyme disease?

Avoid possible tick habitats.
  • If walking or hiking in the woods, stay on well-traveled paths or trails.
  • Mid-May through mid-July is the peak time of year for black-legged ticks; however they are also out earlier in the spring and again in the fall.
  • Keep children’s swing-sets in a sunny and dry area of the yard, away from woods, brush and shade.
Use a good tick repellent.
  • Permethrin
    • This is especially recommended for people who spend extended periods of time in tick habitat.
    • Permethrin products are available in stores that sell camping and hunting supplies, or outdoor gear.
    • Do not use permethrin on your skin.
  • DEET-based products are another option.
    • Use a product containing no more than 30 percent DEET for adults and children.
    • Do not use DEET for infants under two months of age. 
    • Follow the manufacturer's directions for repellent applications.
    • Alternative repellents to DEET or permethrin are not generally as effective in preventing tick bites.
Wear clothing that will help shield you from ticks.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots, to create a "tick barrier.”
  • It may be easier to spot ticks if you are wearing light-colored clothes.
Find and remove ticks.
  • Check yourself, your children and pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.
  • Ticks have to remain attached for one to two days before they can transmit the Lyme disease bacteria.
  • If you find a tick on yourself or your child, remove the tick promptly by pulling upward in a slow but firm manner. 
  • You can use your fingers or fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick by the head.
  • Avoid remedies like Vaseline®, nail polish remover, or burning matches, these are not a safe or effective way to remove ticks.

How do I know if I should see my doctor after being bitten by a tick?

The risk of getting a tick-borne disease is small, especially if the tick is removed within 24 hours of attachment. 

Monitor the area surrounding the bite for about a month to watch for an early sign of Lyme disease, an expanding rash that often appears as a red ring with central clearing, or a "bull's-eye" appearance.

  • The rash begins as a small red area that may expand to several inches or more in diameter.
  • A rash may appear on one or more places on the body, may include one or more rashes, and is usually not painful or itchy. 
  • It is common to develop an area of inflammation and itching up to the size of a quarter right after being bitten by a tick.  This is due to your body’s reaction to the tick’s saliva and is not a symptom of Lyme disease. 
  • However, if you have been bitten by an infected tick, an expanding rash will appear within a few days and typically will be larger than two inches across. It does not always have a "bull's eye" appearance and may look like a large circle that is red throughout.

Not everyone develops or notices the rash, so it's also important to be alert for other possible symptoms of Lyme disease - fever, headache, chills, fatigue, sore throat, a stiff neck, and pain in the muscles or joints - if you've spent time in an area with tick habitat during the past month.

Other tick-borne diseases can cause similar symptoms.

Updated Thursday, August 08, 2013 at 10:28AM