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So, what actually is Lyme disease?

You might have heard of Lyme disease if you know a sufferer or regularly tune in to The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills (Yolanda Hadid has it, as do two of her model children, Bella and Anwar). But, with Lyme not often talked about or fully understood in the UK, what actually IS it?

In short, it’s an infectious disease which is transmitted when an infected tick (a tiny blood-sucking bug) bites you, which probably won’t hurt at all. It’s what happens later that can prove harmful and manifest itself as Lyme disease.

Here are a few things you should know if you’re worried about contracting Lyme disease, or if you just want to be more clued up on the condition.

What are the symptoms?

A large red rash, often in circular ‘bull’s eye’ formations. Severe headaches coupled with a stiff neck. Joint pain and swelling (particularly in the knees) and ‘drooping’ of one or both sides of the face.

How is it diagnosed?

The above symptoms would generally show between two and 30 days after a tick bite, though initial blood tests will often come back negative for Lyme disease, with the antibodies doctors are looking for sometimes not detectable for weeks or even months. This can mean many sufferers are left with undiagnosed and untreated Lyme disease for quite some time, which can be frustrating, especially if symptoms are present.

How do you treat it?

The good news is that – if diagnosed early – Lyme disease can be curable with antibiotics. The bad news is that many people presenting symptoms aren’t tested for the disease due to a lack of knowledge around it. They can often be misdiagnosed or even stay undiagnosed for a long time, and by then they may have developed additional ailments because of the Lyme disease, all of which will require their own treatments.

Is Lyme disease contagious?

Chill, girl. There is no evidence of Lyme disease being transmitted from person to person.

How can I stop myself getting it?

The best ways to prevent Lyme disease are by avoiding walking through areas where ticks might live, covering up your skin if you’re playing in the woods or by using repellents containing the active ingredients DEET and Picaridine. Make sure you check your skin for ticks when you get home if you have been out in the countryside and, if you find any, make sure they are properly removed with a special tool like the O’Tom Tick Twister.

Where can I find out more info on Lyme disease?

The charity Lyme Disease Action has loads of info on their website if you want to know more and you can, of course, speak to your doctor if you’re concerned you might have it.

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