Our Lyme Disease Story

The Lyme Disease Rash: Our Daughter’s Story

Have you ever been thankful for a rash?

Our oldest daughter, Michaela, is strong, energetic, and independent. She delights us with her inventiveness, her creativity, and her surprising and perceptive observations.  But winter mornings with her can prove challenging. Even if it’s freezing outside, she almost never wants to wear a coat.

Seven-year-old girl with a baby bearded dragon
Michaela on August 28, 2018 with her birthday present, a baby bearded dragon.

Early Lyme

Yet on the way home from her seventh birthday party on August 30, 2018, she started complaining she was cold. The next day, on the way home from the zoo, she said the same. That evening—the Friday before Labor Day—she was hot to the touch. I took her temperature, and it was 103.4 degrees.

My husband, Mark, checked her from head to toe and found nothing unusual. Since her doctor’s office had closed, he took her to a clinic, and they concluded she had a virus.

On Labor Day, after days of no symptoms except chills, fatigue, and fevers, I discovered a rash.

At first, I thought it might be a pressure mark from her nap on Mark’s recliner. The middle of the night proved that theory wrong.

Seven-year-old girl at the Maryland Zoo with goats
Michaela at the zoo the day we discovered she was sick.

Just after midnight, Michaela came into our bedroom crying. Her head hurt, and her fever had spiked to 103.9. I checked the oval red mark on the back of her upper thigh, and it was still there.

Like any good mommy, I did what I could to bring her fever down. I gave her medicine. I gave her a lukewarm bath. And I left a voice mail for the on-call pediatrician. When he called back, he told me to bring her in first thing in the morning.

At the doctor’s office, they ruled out common causes of fever. Then they inspected the rash. Since it was clearing in the middle to form a bull’s-eye, it resembled the Lyme disease rash. As a result, they diagnosed Michaela with Lyme, and one of my fears was realized.

But the rash helped us catch it early, so she was treated with antibiotics right away. For that, I’m forever thankful. 

The Lyme Disease Rash

Standard blood tests usually aren’t accurate for early Lyme. Hence, doctors make a clinical diagnosis based on symptoms and the sign of the rash.

Forms of erythema migrans, the Lyme disease rash
Photo courtesy of bayarealyme.org.

Unfortunately, many people who contract Lyme don’t get or notice a rash. That delays their diagnosis and treatment and allows the Lyme disease bacteria to multiply. And the more time Borrelia burgdorferi has to multiply, the more damage it can do.

I noticed Michaela’s rash, because she was curled in the fetal position, wearing only her underwear. Yet, when she stood, her skin creased there, so the rash was almost impossible to see. 

I’m so thankful she had the rash, and I saw it before it disappeared, so she could avoid late-stage Lyme. I’m also thankful that her diagnosis proved to be the clue that finally led to my own. Click here to continue reading our story!

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