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If you live near a highly wooded area lush with plants, you’ve likely heard of Lyme disease. It’s an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected black-legged or deer tick.

Though you can get Lyme disease in any part of the country, some places pose a greater risk. According to research from 2013, the vast majority of Lyme disease occurs in:

  • southern New England
  • southeastern New York
  • New Jersey
  • eastern Pennsylvania
  • eastern Maryland
  • Delaware
  • parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 30,000 cases in the United States are reported to state health departments each year. But other estimates suggest that around 476,000 people are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease in a year.

Keep reading to learn more about Lyme disease, plus how to get tested at home.

If you aren’t familiar with Lyme disease, it’s an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Black-legged or deer ticks carry the disease after feeding on infected deer, birds, or mice, and pass it to humans through a tick bite.

In most cases, ticks on the skin for less than 24 hours pose little risk for transmitting Lyme disease, according to a 2018 animal study.

The CDC says that black-legged ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease.

Many people don’t remember seeing or feeling a tick bite, as these insects can be smaller than a pinhead.

According to a 2016 study, other strains of Borrelia bacteria can cause Lyme disease. But the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria is prevalent in North America.

An at-home Lyme disease test will typically be a blood finger prick test.

If you have been exposed to the bacteria Borrelia that leads to the infection of Lyme disease, your body will have created two antibodies to fight it off. The test will look for the presence of both types of antibodies, known as immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (IgG).

You will receive your test kit along with account information so that you can get your test results as soon as they are ready. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly as they are described.

Each test has different instructions, so it’s very important that you read the kit’s detailed information before getting started.

If Lyme disease is treated soon after a tick bite, the outlook is great. Most cases of Lyme disease respond to a 2- to 4-week round of antibiotics.

If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can be more difficult to eliminate. For some, it can lead to inflammation of the joints, heart, and nervous system. Progression of the disease, and its severity, can vary from person to person.

Lyme disease is staged in categories: acute, early disseminated, and late disseminated. Later stages of Lyme disease may involve multiple systems in the body.

The most common sign of Lyme disease is an erythema migrans, or bull’s-eye rash. The rash often appears after a delay of 3 to 30 days after the tick bite, according to the CDC. The average delay is about 7 days after the tick bite.

Research from 2014 suggests that the bull’s-eye rash may last for 3 to 4 weeks. About 80 percent of people with Lyme disease have a single erythema migrans rash. But the bacteria can spread and lead to multiple rashes, indicating disseminated Lyme disease.

While a rash is the most common symptom of Lyme disease, it isn’t the only one.

With disseminated Lyme disease, symptoms can also include neurologic conditions, such as cranial nerve palsy (particularly facial nerve palsy) and meningitis that mimics aseptic meningitis. Heart inflammation can also be a sign of Lyme disease.

If you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, an at-home test may help you identify Lyme disease. With the click of a button, a test can be shipped to your front door.

These tests may come in handy if you’re an avid outdoors person who lives in geographical areas where ticks are present.

When choosing at-home Lyme disease tests to feature, we looked at affordability, accuracy, ease in reading directions, and what made the specific tests stand out from the crowd.

To select the best tests, we look at studies and user reviews.

You can use a health spending account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to purchase all of these at-home Lyme disease tests, except one. In some instances, you may be able to use your insurance.

Some of these tests aren’t available in New York, New Jersey, or Rhode Island. Check your state guidelines to see if you can get one shipped to you.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$150
  • $$$ = over $150

Best overall

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: blood
  • Results: 2 to 5 days

With a sample of blood taken by finger prick, LetsGetChecked tests for Borrelia IgM, the first antibody produced when fighting an infection, and IgG antibodies, the most abundant antibody found in the body.

High levels of IgG antibodies and low levels of IgM antibodies indicate a past or active infection with Borrelia bacteria.

Once you get your test, you can activate it. A video on the website details how to collect your blood sample. The sample must be collected before 10 a.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and returned the same day.

Take the test before you eat breakfast that day. Note that you can freely drink water before taking the test.

After the sample arrives at the lab, confidential results will be available in your account in 2 to 5 business days.

LetsGetChecked also offers a team of nurses available for 24/7 call support.

Best for ease of use

Everlywell

  • Price: $$
  • Collection method: blood
  • Results: 5 to 8 days

Everlywell is an easy-to-use at-home Lyme disease test. The Everlywell digital platform is user-friendly, and the instructions are easy to understand and follow.

Like other at-home tests, once you register the kit, you take your finger prick and send the sample back to the company. The Everlywell test looks for three strains of bacteria: Borrelia garinii, Borrelia afzelii, and Borrelia burgdorferi.

Afterward, you can view a personalized report of each marker tested and what the results mean.

Everlywell tests are reviewed and approved by an independent board certified physician in your state. You can purchase tests from the Everlywell site or Amazon. The tests are also HSA- and FSA-approved and might be covered by insurance. The website says Everlywell works with insurance, so it’s worth asking a healthcare professional.

Best for laboratory testing near you

Personalabs

  • Price: $
  • Collection method: blood
  • Results: 2 to 10 business days

Personalabs is a good choice if you’d like to choose a laboratory near you. Potentially, you can take the blood sample to a lab with same-day testing. Personalabs works with 2,300 certified labs around the country.

Once you get the kit, you take your sample directly to the lab of your choosing. Results will be uploaded to your account online.

Best for testing other tick-borne illnesses

IGeneX

  • Price: $$$
  • Collection method: blood or urine
  • Results: sent to your doctor

IGeneX makes a comprehensive test for tick-borne illnesses. You can choose to do a blood or urine sample. Blood samples must be provided at an IGeneX-approved lab. The results will be sent to your doctor for review.

After you order a kit, you’ll need to fill out the appropriate paperwork. This information tells the company where to send the results.

The test will look for several markers of Lyme disease to ensure accuracy. You can also choose from five different panels of testing. Some of these panels, for example, look at T cells, antibodies, DNA, and antigens.

You can order each Lyme assay through a physician.

Every health insurance policy is different, but the company does work with insurance providers and sometimes Medicare. To ensure you’ll be reimbursed for IGeneX, contact your insurance provider for benefit-specific information before purchasing.

Best for additional genetic information

SelfDecode

  • Price: $ (annual subscription)
  • Collection method: cheek swab
  • Results: within 6 weeks

This test checks for a gene that predisposes you to an increased risk of post-treatment Lyme disease.

SelfDecode is similar to the 23andMe health test. You’ll find out a lot of additional genetic information.

To be specific, this test looks for P-glycoprotein, which can lead to drug resistance. If you have completed a course of antibiotics for Lyme disease but are still experiencing symptoms, this may be a good test for you. Test results may indicate post-treatment Lyme disease.

SelfDecode will give you recommendations based on your genetic results.

It’s important to note that a positive result doesn’t mean you have a diagnosis of Lyme disease. The tests will show that antibodies are present in your blood, but a physician will need to order another type of test before you get an official diagnosis.

“If someone gets a positive at-home test, definitely see your doctor,” says Dr. Puja Uppal, a board certified family medicine physician and the chief medical officer at Think Healthy.

A physician will likely order both an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a Western blot test, which check for antibodies specific to Borrelia burgdorferi. They will consider the results of both these tests, along with your symptoms, to make an accurate diagnosis.

Is Lyme disease curable?

As mentioned above, most cases of Lyme disease respond to antibiotics. Lyme disease is best treated early. Sometimes, people with Lyme disease have symptoms months after they finish treatment, according to the CDC.

What if Lyme disease goes untreated?

If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can affect other systems in the body. According to the CDC, common symptoms of later stage Lyme disease include:

  • severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • additional erythema migrans rashes on other areas of the body
  • facial palsy, which is a loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face
  • arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly in the knees and other large joints
  • intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
  • heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat
  • episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
  • inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • nerve pain
  • shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet

What do testing kits typically include?

Depending on the method of collection, testing kits may include:

  • a device to collect the blood, urine, or saliva sample
  • instructions
  • a container to ship the sample back to the lab
  • a shipping label

Some kits come with a bandage, wipes, and a biohazard bag. Kits may contain extras such as Styrofoam holders, labels, or tubes with varying solutions inside.

Are at-home Lyme disease tests reliable?

Yes. All of the at-home Lyme disease tests we included in this article have been vetted by Healthline and have thousands of positive reviews.

Are Lyme disease tests covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies only pay for diagnostic testing when it’s ordered by a physician or another healthcare professional. That being said, you can use tax-exempt HSA and FSA accounts to pay for an at-home Lyme disease test.

Does Medicare cover at-home Lyme disease tests?

Medicare does not currently cover at-home Lyme disease tests.

How will pregnancy affect treatment for Lyme disease?

Early treatment of Lyme disease during pregnancy is important. That’s because if Lyme disease is left untreated, it can affect the placenta. According to the CDC, transmission of Lyme disease from mother to fetus is possible, though rare.

For pregnant people, treatment includes a round of antibiotics. Certain treatments for Lyme disease may not be used, as they can affect the fetus. If you suspect that you have Lyme disease, talk with a healthcare professional immediately.

Treating Lyme disease early on is important. Without treatment, Lyme disease can affect multiple systems in the body. With early treatment, Lyme disease responds well to a 2- to 4-week round of antibiotics.

It’s important to check for tick bites after hiking, camping, or spending any time in a wooded area. If you suspect a tick bite or have symptoms, seek medical attention right away for prompt assessment and treatment.


Tracee Herbaugh is a writer and journalist who lives in the Boston area. She writes about culture, lifestyle, health, and family relationships. You can view her work online or find her on Twitter.