Lyme Disease Doctor

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Normal Tick Bite Vs. Lyme

Written by Dr. Diane Mueller 

The difference between a normal tick bite versus Lyme really comes down to the understanding that not all ticks carry Lyme Disease. Getting bit by a tick does not necessarily mean that the tick will transmit Lyme, however most ticks carry disease and a tick bite may mean you have had some sort of disease transmission occur, which may or may not be Lyme Disease.

normal tick bite vs lyme


While symptoms can be a great indicator of Lyme Disease transmission, some people do not experience symptoms in the early stage of disease. The problem with this is that the disease may lay dormant for many years (even decades) and then manifest as neurologic, cardiac, cognitive disease or simply as a really bad case of chronic fatigue syndrome.

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For most people if they are going to experience acute symptoms, they occur within a month of transmission. However, since not everyone experiences symptoms acutely, it is worth getting thorough testing done. See our blog on Lyme Disease Testing to learn more about how to get tested not only for Lyme Disease, but for the variety of tick born (and insect born) illnesses.

It is also good to note that a couple preliminary studies show that Lyme Disease may be carried by mosquitos and fleas. Therefore, making assumptions that Lyme is only transmitted via ticks may not be correct. This disease is much more prevalent than once was originally thought. Lyme Disease was originally discovered in Lyme, Connecticut by Dr. Alan Steere due to his work on children with juvenile arthritis. Less than a decade later, Willy Burgorfer discovered the bacteria in ticks. We have learned so much about Lyme Disease since the 70s, however we are really just beginning to peel back the layers in medicine to truly understand this complicated disease.

At our medical clinic, most of the people that we find positive for Lyme Disease through testing do not remember a tick bit or ever having the classic Lyme Disease Rash. 


The good news is there are things you can do if you are a nature lover to help to prevent tick bite. Ixodes scapularis (deer tick that carries Lyme) has been shown to be repelled amazingly by the essential oil Texas Cedarwood. Using this as bug spray can help lessen the likelihood of tick bites. [i]


In addition, treating clothing and sneakers with permethrin has been shown to reduce tick bites by up to 99%.[ii]  Permethrin is an insecticide and is classically not great for the lungs to breath in. Therefore, unless you are in a situation where you could have tons of ticks crawling on you at any given moment, it may be better to use Texas Cedarwood, which is also effective but less potentially harmful for the lungs.

For more information on the topic of Lyme Disease Tick Bite See Our Blog:

[i] Jennifer Hostetler, Laboratory Bioassay to Assess the Repellency and Efficacy

of One Direct Spray Product against Multiple Species, in Terms of Knockdown

and Mortality, i2LResearch USA, Inc., July 2018.


[ii] Nathan J. Miller, Erin E. Rainone, Megan C. Dyer, and Liliana Gonzalez, “Tick Bite Protection with Permethrin-Treated Summer-Weight

Clothing,” Journal of Medical Entomology 48, no. 2 (January 2011): 327–33, doi:10.1603/me10158.

“Permethrin Insect Repellent Treatment for Clothing Gear and Tents,” Sawyer

Products, permethrin-insect-repellent-treatment/.

“Knockdown Testing,” Insect Shield, Accessed March 11, 2018.

Meagan F. Vaughn and Steven R. Meshnick, “Pilot Study Assessing the Effectiveness of Long- Lasting Permethrin-Impregnated Clothing for the

Prevention of Tick Bites,” Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 11, no. 7 (July 2011): 869–75, doi:10.1089/vbz.2010.0158.

Sullivan, Kristin M. Sullivan, Alison Poffley, Sheana Funkhouser, et al., “Bioabsorption and Effectiveness of Long-Lasting Permethrin-Treated Uniforms

over Three Months among North Carolina Outdoor Workers,” Parasites & Vectors 12, no. 1 (January 23, 2019): 52, doi:10.1186/ s13071-019-3314-1


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