Over the past month many patients have asked questions about Lyme Disease and tick bites. Here are a few facts about Lyme Disease recognition and prevention.
Lyme disease is an infection that is transmitted from infected deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis). Many people who live in Minnesota and Wisconsin know about the erythema migrans rash or "bulls eye rash" (see photo) that occurs with Lyme Disease in up to 70% of cases. Other symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, headaches, unexplained fatigue, joint pains, and swollen lymph nodes. Untreated Lyme disease may even cause memory problems and rarely serious heart arrhythmias. Generally the infected deer tick must be attached to the skin for 36 to 48 hours before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.
Lyme Disease can be prevented by taking some very simple precautionary measures. First, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants, and hats when outdoors in high risk areas such as a cabin in northern MN. The protective clothing should be treated with permethrin spray. Permethrin spray may be purchased online (see link) and at many retail stores, and should be sprayed on all clothing (not the skin) before heading outdoors. Second, use insect repellents that contain DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, IR3535, para-methane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Finally, perform frequent tick checks after you've been outdoors.
Deer ticks can attach to any part of the skin, so it is extremely important to check on the scalp, armpits, and groin area when performing tick checks after being outdoors. If you or someone you know is concerned they may have Lyme Disease, please do not hesitate to make an appointment at Dermatology PA where we are experts at diagnosing and treating tick-borne illnesses.