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18 Symptoms of Lyme Disease – as Shown in Photos

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Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

Although many people may experience similar symptoms, Lyme disease looks different for everyone. Whether you’re battling largely “invisible” symptoms, such as pain or fatigue, or something more apparent, like rashes or hair loss, these symptoms can often manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the individual and their unique health situation, and result in co-infections or comorbidities.

But even though Lyme symptoms can take on different forms, it is important to raise awareness of these manifestations so those with Lyme disease can be better understood and have more productive conversations with loved ones, friends and doctors. So, we asked our Mighty community to share photos depicting one of the symptoms they experience. Let’s shed some light on how complex and multifaceted Lyme disease can really be.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. Pain

“I was at the eye doctor and not feeling well. I just laid on the floor in such pain on my service dog for over an hour because things were running so slow. I didn’t care about any of the many people that saw me laying eyes closed in the waiting room because my body was in so much nerve pain that all I could do was grab onto my service dog and wait until they were done.” – Cassidy S.

woman lying on the floor of a waiting room with her service dog

Chest pains near my heart from cartilage and muscular pain. I have a PICC and do daily infusions that are really helping, but one little thing can turn severe fast. It’s terrifying, lonely and hard to explain. Hospitals are usually the last resort with someone with Lyme due to their complete ignorance on chronic Lyme.” – Genevieve G.

woman sitting in a hospital bed at the emergency room

2. Paralysis

Paralysis. This symptom caused me to rely on others for every need including walking, driving, using the bathroom, drinking and more.” – Cassidy C.

woman lying paralyzed in a bath tub

3. Fatigue/Exhaustion

“I’m usually a ray of sunshine, but behind closed doors I am in the dark mentally, and physically. Being bounced from doctor, to doctor. Infectious disease physician refuses to treat me for Lyme disease until after further test results from lumbar puncture, and more tests reveal other conditions in addition to the Lyme. Missing work from a career I actually love. Not having enough energy to play with my children, clean my home the way I want, or make plans with friends. When I do get a little burst of energy, I end up paying for it shortly after the fact. I forget what normal feels like.” – Angela R.

woman wearing headphones and frowning

“My boyfriend snapped this pic after a very long night. No matter how much I sleep, I’m perpetually tired and achey.” – Kathryn B.

woman sitting at a table holding a blue blanket around her with the caption 'my beautiful breakfast burrito'

4. Anxiety

“Anxiety about illness… concern for my entire family… heavy on my mind… pray to find and shed the light and for strength to help others.” – Darlene D.O.

woman standing indoors looking at a rainbow of light reflected on the floor

5. Nervous System Dysfunction

“Fifty to 60 injection sites from my skull to my hips trying to calm my nervous system. This is done every two weeks for months on end. The circled areas are still inflamed almost two hours after the injection. This is a treatment my support systems are mostly unaware I do.” – Lanna B.

the back of a woman's head with lumps circled from injection sites

6. Migraine

“I get intractable daily migraines. The pain is so bad that pain meds barely touch it. Then there’s the super sonic hearing, light sensitivity, distorted vision and insane nausea.” – Stephanie A.

woman with short pink hair and glasses lying in bed

7. Blurry Vision

Blurry vision. It makes my artwork fuzzier. I also have motor skill problems, so when I flare I can’t see or grip a paint brush. It makes doing things that I love a task.” – Bianca M.

painting of a lion

8. Dissonance Between Mind and Body

“This is a photo my partner took of me a few months ago when starting new meds. The symptom this photo is of is my wired but tired feeling I get with the disease. My body never matches my brain. It can be complicated because I need rest physically but my mind races a million miles an hour. Days like this, some good dog therapy and a few moments of laying down can help during the day, but at night when it is time to wind down for the evening it can be complicated.” – Annie P.

woman lying in bed with her two dogs

9. Inability to Process Toxins

“Getting my regular glutathione IVs which allow me to stay on my life-saving antibiotics. Without these IVs my liver wouldn’t be able to keep up with detoxing the toxins in my body.” – Chelsea M.

woman with an IV in her arm

10. Irritability

“This picture represents the inward symptom of irrational irritability, and the outward expression of annoyance, disgust and disdain for an illness that keeps me locked in bed. I have a stuffed animal, as my friend, as so many have abandoned me in the journey, and frankly I don’t want to talk to anyone, I just want to be with someone. This disease has the most insane mixture of emotions all at once, but the face of ‘don’t mess with me,’ is unfortunately an embarrassing face I have to make which I am seen with far too often. Lyme sucks!” – Alyssa S.

woman lying in bed frowning and holding a stuffed animal

11. Flu-Like Symptoms

“Malaise flare… flu-like… hits you out of nowhere. I need to rest, close my eyes… PTSD… I am relapsing.” – Darlene D.O.

woman taking a selfie wearing a black hat and purple scarf

“This is one of my dogs. I am in bed a lot either sick, tired or both. He is typically by my side all day.” – Acadia M.

woman lying in bed with her dog

12. Histamine Intolerance

“Lyme has caused histamine intolerance for me (and many others)! My body releases ridiculous amount of histamine when it is even slightly irritated. This rash was just from my PICC line dressing! Anything that irritates my skin causes me a sore throat and a rash. My skin always looks awful and I know many Lymies experience this!” – Elizabeth L.

woman with a rash on her shoulder where her PICC line and wound dressing are

13. Inability to Regulate Temperature

“Hypothermia and cold intolerance. I live under my electric blanket!” – Ashley S.

woman holding a thermometer that reads 91.6 degrees fahrenheit

14. Hair Loss

“While not many people have suffered hair loss from Lyme, I lost a lot of my hair due to hormonal imbalances and sensitivities to hormonal birth control thanks to Lyme. Because I now have a weakened thyroid from Lyme, resulting in Hashimoto’s, my hair loss has continued and I wear a wig on a daily basis. Although I’m not bald, my hair is very thin, brittle, and lifeless – I often compare it to the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.” – Julie M.

woman with short brown hair turning away so her hair covers her face

15. Heart Palpitations

“My symptoms look invisible… Heart palpitations, panic attacks… I never had a scar from the tick bite. I don’t even recall getting bit but I do remember having a tick on me.” – Ivana R.

woman wearing a black shirt and lyme green awareness bracelet on her arm

16. Swollen Joints

“Lyme disease means swollen joints.” – Mackenzie P.

woman with swollen knees

17. Seizures

“This photo is after spending the morning with one of my neurologists. I had a seizure in the office and I was completely exhausted, confused and overwhelmed. My seizures had been uncontrolled for months, I had lost a lot of my brain functioning and I was barely surviving. I would soon be admitted to the hospital. I had just been tested for neuropathy that showed up positive in my test results and of course I had spent a large amount of money out of pocket to see yet another doctor to get answers and treatment. You might be able to see the ‘nobody is home’ look going on in my eyes. My husband had to take over my care and I was having seizures non-stop. Lyme and its related infections can cause seizures and life with this illness can be downright debilitating. Sometimes you can see our issues, most of the time you can’t. Sometimes the invisible makes itself visible, but most of the time we are walking around ‘acting’ well.” – Jody M.

black and white photo of a woman resting her head on her chin and looking away

18. Rashes

“Of course Lyme has so many symptoms but I will share a recent photo of a flare-up I had only three weeks ago. Where my whole body was full of rashes. Head to toe. They were so itchy and unsightly. The doctors did not help really either. They gave me histamine tablets that contained lactose (I am lactose intolerant). This caused the rashes to fire up further and the steroid cream did nothing to aid recovery either. It took nine days to clear up. But especially when it’s full moon, rashes seem to be becoming an ever-growing problem for me.” – Sophie W.

rashes on a woman's skin

“Wake up with hot hot skin rash when Lyme flares up – all over body, head to foot. Bottom of feet burn and whole body is full of inflammation. The skin is hot to the touch and itchy. After a couple days this is what is left.” – Donna M.

red rash on a woman's leg

Originally published: May 4, 2018
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