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You can test for Lyme disease with at-home kits that detect specific antibodies. A doctor can also test you for Lyme disease.
- Best for quick turnaround: LetsGetChecked | Skip to Review
- Best for ease of use: Everlywell | Skip to Review
- Best for testing other tick-borne illnesses: IGeneX | Skip to Review
If you live near a highly wooded area lush with plants, you’ve likely heard of Lyme disease.
In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported
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 Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. 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.
Most ticks that transmit the bacteria to humans are nymphs, which are immature ticks. According to the
Many people who develop Lyme disease don’t remember seeing or feeling a tick bite, as these insects can be smaller than a pinhead.
While adult ticks can also transmit the bacteria, they’re much larger and are often removed earlier. According to a
Lyme disease is concentrated in certain areas because there are specific environmental conditions that help support it. According to
High incidence states include:
- Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and other parts of New England
- New Jersey
- New York
An at-home Lyme disease test will typically be a blood finger prick test.
If you have been exposed to the Borrelia bacteria that leads to Lyme disease, your body will have created one or 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’re ready. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly as they are described.
Each test has different instructions, so it’s important to read the kit’s detailed information before getting started.
Yes. If Lyme disease is treated soon after a tick bite, the outlook is great. Most cases of Lyme disease respond to a
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. The progression of the disease and its severity can vary from person to person. So, treatment even years later can make a difference.
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 symptom of Lyme disease is an erythema migrans, or bull’s-eye rash. The rash often appears
While a rash is the most common symptom of Lyme disease, it isn’t the only one.
Other symptoms of Lyme disease
- achy joints, particularly in one knee
- swollen lymph nodes
Lyme disease that remains unnoticed or untreated can go on to progress to disseminated Lyme disease. 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.
You may want to get tested for Lyme disease if you’re experiencing symptoms and you either:
- know you were bitten by a tick
- recently spent time in an area where ticks are common
However, if you’re currently experiencing a bull’s-eye rash, it’s best to see a doctor rather than take an at-home test. That’s because the outlook for Lyme disease is best when treated early.
Additionally, if it’s been less than 6 weeks since you think you were bitten, it might not be helpful to take an at-home test. Doing so may result in a false negative.
A note about at-home testing
While at-home testing is convenient and discreet, it’s not necessarily a substitute for speaking with a doctor in person. At-home testing kits provide health information but without context. They don’t consider your medical history, and not all services connect users with qualified doctors to discuss results.
Additionally, you might not know what to test for or how to interpret your results, and some testing services don’t measure up to traditional doctor-ordered lab tests. That’s why it’s important to do your due diligence when shopping for these types of tests. It’s also a good idea to follow up with a doctor regarding your results.
- $ = under $150
- $$ = over $150
Best for quick turnaround
- Price: $
- Collection method: blood
- Results: 2–5 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. Monday through 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 within 2 to 5 business days.
LetsGetChecked also offers a team of nurses available for 24/7 call support.
- uses labs certified by the
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)
- fast turnaround
- available at CVS
- HSA and FSA eligible
- no physician network for a positive diagnosis
- doesn’t accept insurance
- not available in New York
Best for ease of use
- Price: $
- Collection method: blood
- Results: 5–7 business days
Everlywell offers 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 antibody responses to 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 your insurance.
Use code “HEALTHLINE25” for 25% off.
- reviewed and approved by an independent board certified physician in your state
- uses CLIA certified labs
- complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- not available in New York
- longer wait for results
Best for testing other tick-borne illnesses
- Price: $$
- Collection method: blood or urine
- Results: sent to your doctor
IGeneX makes a comprehensive test for tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis. 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. Keep in mind that urine samples are not considered a standard or reliable way to detect Lyme disease.
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 multiple different panels of testing. Some of these panels, for example, look at T cells, antibodies, DNA, and antigens.
Every health insurance policy is different, but IGeneX does work with insurance companies and sometimes Medicare. To ensure you’ll be reimbursed for IGeneX, contact your insurance company for benefit-specific information before purchasing.
- looks at different markers for tick-borne illnesses
- works with insurance
- CLIA certified
- can be used in all 50 states
- more expensive than other tests on the market
- paperwork is involved
- must go to an approved lab for blood sample
When choosing at-home Lyme disease tests to feature, we looked at:
- ease of directions
To select the best tests, we look at studies and user reviews.
We also included an option that is shipped to your home but still requires a trip to the lab. It may be a good option for people who don’t want to do a finger prick themselves.
You can use a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) to purchase some of these at-home Lyme disease tests. 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.
Most Lyme disease tests check for the presence of IgM and IgG antibodies. IgM antibodies indicate you may be fighting off a current infection, while IgG antibodies indicate that your body has been exposed to a strain of Borrelia and has tried to fight it off in the past.
Other tests offer additional services such as DNA analysis that may help predict the nature of your body’s response to Lyme disease.
Use this chart to help determine which test is right for you.
|Collection method||blood sample||blood sample||blood or urine sample|
|Tests performed||IgM and IgG antibodies||IgM and IgG antibodies||antibodies, DNA, T cells, and more|
|Turnaround time||2–5 days||5–8 days||sent to doctor|
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 doctor 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,” said Puja Uppal, DO, a board certified family medicine physician and the chief medical officer at Think Healthy.
A doctor 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.
If you’re considering at-home testing, you might be wondering how it differs from getting an in-person test done by a healthcare professional.
With at-home testing, you’re responsible for collecting the sample. For Lyme testing, this will most likely be a blood sample. At-home testing kits come with instructions on how to collect a viable sample and provide you with the tools to do so.
You’ll also receive a mailer that allows you to ship the collected sample off to a lab for testing. You’ll receive your results, typically digitally, within a few business days.
Some at-home testing kit companies will connect you with a doctor who can explain your results and provide follow-up guidance. However, many companies will only provide this service if you test positive, leaving people with negative results and potentially lingering symptoms to wonder what to do next.
At-home testing services also don’t necessarily provide guidance on when to test for Lyme. Antibodies don’t necessarily develop right away. So if you’ve just been bitten by a Lyme-infected tick, your results will not be positive until several weeks later.
In-person tests for Lyme disease involve inserting a needle into a vein in the forearm to draw blood. Most of the time, doctors don’t draw blood right in their offices but will send you for testing at a nearby lab.
Before testing for Lyme disease, doctors will usually consider other possible diagnoses with similar symptoms. They’ll also ask you whether you’ve recently been exposed to infected ticks based on recent activities and places you’ve visited.
According to the
Most at-home testing companies don’t follow a two-step testing process. However, if the company connects you with a doctor, they may recommend additional testing if you test positive.
Early detection and treatment of Lyme are crucial. Most Lyme disease infections clear up with the help of a course of antibiotics you can take at home.
In some cases, however, people who are treated with antibiotics may continue to experience symptoms. When this happens, it’s called chronic Lyme disease or post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
Doctors may treat chronic Lyme disease with a continued course of antibiotics, but the treatment often also involves managing symptoms like pain and inflammation.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease and think you may have been bitten by a tick and were in an area where it is common, seek medical care as soon as possible. If certain symptoms and risk factors are present, doctors will typically treat for Lyme disease without waiting for a test result.
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
What if Lyme disease goes untreated?
If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can affect other systems in the body. It may cause symptoms like arthritis, inflammation, pain, stiffness, and more.
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
- 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?
An at-home Lyme disease test that checks for antibodies may not be very accurate in detecting Lyme disease. For this reason, if an antibody test is positive, your doctor will likely order a second test called a Western blot or PCR test.
These tests can still take
Are Lyme disease tests covered by insurance?
Most insurance companies only pay for diagnostic testing when it’s ordered by a doctor 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 doesn’t 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 untreated, it can affect the placenta. According to the
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.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.
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.