Can pictures of Lyme Disease rash be used to accurately diagnose Lyme Disease? Good question; let’s take a closer look.

Not all pictures of Lyme Disease rash tell the whole story.

Can you rely on pictures of Lyme Disease rash to get a correct diagnosis?

In a recent article, we discussed the value of pictures of Lyme Disease rash, e.g. erythema migrans (EM), as a way to self diagnose Lyme Disease. We concluded that it’s a good place to start, especially since you can easily find EM photos on the Internet. There are literally thousands.

If your rash looks like one in these photos, then you’ve got good reason to suspect Lyme Disease. But are they enough for an accurate diagnosis? That’s an equine of a variant hue, so let’s take a closer look.

Variation Issues

Just about everyone knows that an EM rash is the most easily recognizable symptom of Lyme Disease. The thing is, EM rashes are mutable and don’t always present in the classic bull’s-eye shape, so it’s easy to mistake an EM rash for something else… or to mistake something else for EM.

And even when a rash is in fact bull’s-eye shaped, you can’t be 100% sure it that it’s caused by an Lyme Disease infection. While they may be rare, there are other things that can cause this sort of rash, including insect bites, spider bites, and even ringworm. You and your doctor need to rule those out first.

What Else Do I Need To Accurately Diagnose Lyme Disease?

Other symptoms, for one. Just having an itchy rash, even if it does look like a bull’s-eye (or kind of like one) isn’t enough. First of all, do you recall a tick bite at all? That won’t rule out Lyme Disease, since the carrier tick can be very small, but it might help rule it in.

Fatigue is also a common Lyme Disease symptom, as are the flu-like symptoms of joint pain, muscle aches, fever, and headache. In addition to the rash, are you having arthritis-like symptoms? Are your joints red, swollen, or stiff, and has there been any fluid build-up in one of more of the affected joints?

Are you having any neurological symptoms, even minor ones, in addition to your rash? Lyme Disease can cause mood swings, sudden changes in sleep patterns, memory loss, and can even impact your ability to speak.

None of these symptoms are conclusive by themselves, or even necessarily in combination; they can be indicators of numerous diseases or conditions other than Lyme Disease. However, if they do coincide with what appears to be an EM rash based on your perusal of these photos, be sure to get yourself tested.

Speaking of Which…

While Lyme Disease tests are far from infallible, if you have a rash that looks like EM, then you should always have a Lyme Disease test done, whether or not you have other Lyme Disease-like symptoms.

Remember that most of these tests search for antibodies to the disease, and are of variable accuracy because Borrelia can be so variable in its behavior and effects. Basically, if you have an EM-like rash and one test is inconclusive or negative, don’t just accept that. Have at least one more test, just to be sure.

The Bottom Line

Looking at photos of erythema migrans rashes is a diagnostic tool that can help you determine whether or not you have Lyme Disease, but it’s not conclusive evidence. Rather, your doctor must consider it in combination with other symptoms and test results before they can make a final diagnosis, one way or another.

That being the case, don’t assume you have Lyme DiseaseĀ if you have a suspicious rash. Looking at pictures of Lyme Disease rash can at best reveal a symptom of the disease; as helpful as that is, you shouldn’t consider it conclusive.