Lyme disease

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a tiny infected deer tick. This tick (about the size of a pin head) is found in wooded or grassy areas. It can go unnoticed on your child's skin.

Symptoms of Lyme disease (not all may appear) are:

  • red rash that looks like a target (with a clear center)
  • fever
  • joint and muscle aches, stiff neck
  • headache
  • sore throat

If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to nerve, joint (arthritis) and heart problems.

How to treat Lyme disease

An antibiotic will treat Lyme disease and may be used,in certain cases, to prevent the disease after a tick bite.

How to keep from getting Lyme disease

  • Dress your child in a long-sleeved shirt and long pants if you are going to be hiking or in a wooded area. If possible, dress your child in light-colored clothing to help make the ticks stand out.
  • Check your child every night during the summer and early fall for ticks. The tick must be attached to your child for more than 24 hours to cause disease. Daily removal of ticks will prevent Lyme disease.
  • In mosquito and tick areas, choose a DEET concentration up to 30 percent for children who are older than 2 months old. It is mildly effective in preventing ticks from attaching to skin.

Your child cannot pass on Lyme disease to others.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022