Many of those suffering from Lyme disease experience problems with their skin and, although not diagnostic of Lyme disease, hives (urticaria) can also occur. The characteristic Lyme disease rash, erythema migrans, is thought to occur in about 75% of cases of infection with Lyme disease bacteria but this rash often goes unnoticed as it may not be itchy or warm to the touch. The rash can come and go and does not necessarily appear where the initial tick bite occurred. Many patients report other skin problems however, such as a heightened sensitivity to skin allergens, pronounced heat rash, and hives resulting from stress or anxiety. The erythema migrans rash itself may take on an appearance of hives, eczema, or poison ivy reaction, or may simply look like sunburn on some sufferers’ skin.
Lyme disease hives can also be a problem for those undergoing treatment, where a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction (known as ‘herxing’) may occur as the bacteria that cause the condition try to defend themselves. In this case the hives or skin rash will usually appear within a few hours of beginning antibiotic treatment and dissipate after a day or two. Rashes that occur days, weeks, or even months into treatment are unlikely to be a consequence of ‘herxing’ and may be unrelated to the Lyme disease infection. Anyone suffering with a chronic illness or untreated infection may, over time, become run down and suffer from a variety of deficiencies should they have difficulty maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. Problems with essential fatty acid metabolism, or a lack of essential fats and other nutrients in the diet can interfere with the proper function of the skin and may exacerbate or even trigger skin problems such as Lyme disease hives.
Lyme Disease Neuropathy and Hives
Where untreated Lyme disease progresses and begins to affect the peripheral nervous system a patient may suffer from paraesthesia or altered sensation in the skin. A feeling of pins and needles, crawling sensations, and/or pruritis (itchiness) can occur despite there being no specific problem with the skin itself. This uncomfortable, and sometimes painful sensation may then cause a patient to scratch either consciously or unconsciously which can damage the skin’s defences and make the problem worse. Infection itself may then occur and hives can spread as the sufferer continues to scratch other parts of their body. Any such symptoms should be reported to a physician so that nerve inflammation or other condition can be promptly treated and permanent damage avoided where possible. Although not a common feature of Lyme disease, hives can make sufferers uncomfortable and self-conscious and the cause of the symptoms should be investigated.
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