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Lyme Disease Symptoms in Children

author image Sarah Harding
Sarah Harding has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000. She has consulted in various settings and taught courses focused on psychology. Her work has been published by ParentDish, Atkins and other clients. Harding holds a Master of Science in psychology from Capella University and is completing several certificates through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.
Lyme Disease Symptoms in Children
A tick bite is the first sign. Photo Credit: Smileus/iStock/Getty Images

Children can contract Lyme disease from a tick bite, and there are three stages of Lyme disease that develop after an infected tick bites a child. Within the first three to 30 days, the signs of Lyme disease are quite obvious, the University of Michigan Health System reports. The earliest symptoms may be attributed to general illness, but the characteristic signs of Lyme disease soon appear.

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Stage 1

The first symptoms of Lyme disease can appear between three and 30 days after a bite form an infected tick. The most characteristic symptom is a bull's-eye rash that develops at the site of the wound. It affects about 80 percent of individuals who have been bitten. The outer edge of the rash consists of a large red ring that expands out from the bite. It can become larger than 2 inches across, the University of Michigan states. Anything small, such as the size of a dime or quarter, is not a rash from Lyme disease. The rash does not cause any discomfort or irritation. Children may develop smaller spots scattered about the body.

Flu-like symptoms often accompany a rash in a child. These symptoms include a fever, chills, sore throat and a headache that persists for several days.

Stage 2

In most cases, treatment of Lyme disease will occur before it progresses to stage 2. Without treatment, about 15 percent of people will develop stage 2 signs. Children's Hospital Boston reports that testing usually does not reveal Lyme disease but observation of the characteristic signs can help make a proper diagnosis. These more serious symptoms include nervous system issues, such as a stiff neck, weakened facial muscles or hand and foot weakness and numbness. Some children can experience irregular heartbeat.

Stage 3

Without proper treatment, 60 percent will develop symptoms associated with stage 3 of Lyme disease. Those affected may not have had any symptoms of stage 2 illness. During this stage, the symptoms can consist of recurrent swelling of the joints, as in arthritis. Most often, this affects the knees. The University of Michigan points out that 10 percent of children will develop chronic arthritis from Lyme disease.

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