Understanding Lyme disease in children: symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium borrelia burgdorferi. While it can affect people of all ages, children are particularly vulnerable due to their outdoor activities. Understanding the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Lyme disease is important for parents and caregivers. In this guide, we'll delve into everything you need to know about Lyme disease in children.

Symptoms of Lyme disease:

Lyme disease symptoms can vary widely and may mimic other illnesses. Common symptoms in children include:

Erythema migrans (bull's-eye rash): a characteristic rash that appears at the site of the tick bite, often resembling a bull's-eye with a central clearing.

Flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain.

Neurological symptoms: in some cases, Lyme disease can cause neurological complications such as meningitis, facial paralysis, or numbness and tingling in the extremities.

Cardiac symptoms: rarely, Lyme disease may affect the heart, leading to palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath.

lyme disease


Diagnosing Lyme disease in children can be challenging, as symptoms may be nonspecific and the characteristic rash may not always be present. Diagnosis typically involves:

Clinical evaluation: healthcare providers will assess the child's symptoms, medical history, and recent outdoor activities, including possible exposure to ticks.

Laboratory testing: blood tests may be performed to detect antibodies to the Lyme disease bacterium. However, these tests may not always be reliable, especially in the early stages of infection.

Evaluation of rash: the presence of an erythema migrans rash is considered diagnostic for Lyme disease and may eliminate the need for further testing in some cases.


Early treatment with antibiotics is essential to prevent complications and promote recovery in children with Lyme disease. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include amoxicillin, depending on the child's age and the severity of the infection. Most children respond well to antibiotic treatment, and symptoms typically improve within a few weeks.


Preventing Lyme disease in children involves minimising exposure to ticks and taking preventive measures when spending time outdoors:

Wear protective clothing: dress children in long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes when in wooded or grassy areas.

Use insect repellent: apply insect repellent containing deet or permethrin to exposed skin and clothing, following product instructions carefully.

Perform tick checks: check children for ticks after outdoor activities, paying close attention to the scalp, hairline, armpits, and groin area. Promptly remove any ticks found using fine-tipped tweezers.


By understanding the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Lyme disease, parents and caregivers can take proactive steps to protect their children from this potentially serious illness. Prompt recognition and treatment of Lyme disease are essential for a successful recovery and the prevention of long-term complications.

If you are worried your child may have Lyme disease, please contact us or book an appointment with one our Childhealthy team.


NHS website: information on Lyme disease symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Public health England: guidance on tick bite prevention and Lyme disease awareness.

Disclaimer: information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child's eczema, please contact your doctor for advice.

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