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You can test for Lyme disease with at-home kits that detect specific antibodies. Everlywell, LetsGetChecked, and IGeneX all make our list.

If you live near a highly wooded area lush with plants, you’ve likely heard of Lyme disease.

In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 24,000 confirmed and probable disease cases. But other estimates suggest that around 476,000 people are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease in a year.

Here’s more about Lyme disease, plus how to get tested at home.

The Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria cause Lyme disease. 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.

The CDC says that black-legged ticks need to be attached for at least 36–48 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease.

Most ticks that transmit the bacteria to humans are nymphs, which are immature ticks. According to the CDC, these are about the size of a poppy seed. This means that they’re harder to see and remove promptly.

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

You may want to get tested for Lyme disease if you’re experiencing symptoms and you either:

  • know a tick bit you
  • recently spent time in an area where ticks are common

However, if you’re currently experiencing bull’s-eye rash (erythema migrans)—the sign most people who develop Lyme disease exhibit—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 tests. It’s also a good idea to follow up with a doctor regarding your results.

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Test PriceCollection methodTests performedTurnaround time
LetsGetChecked$119blood sampleIgM and IgG antibodies2–5 days
Everlywell$109blood sampleIgM and IgG antibodiesa few days
IGeneX$20*blood or urine sampleantibodies, DNA, T cells10 business days

*Note that the $20 cost is for the kit only. Other costs, including a doctor’s visit, are not included.

When choosing at-home Lyme disease tests to feature, we looked at:

  • affordability
  • accuracy
  • 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 an HSA or 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.

Read more about how we select and vet products.

Most Lyme disease tests check for the presence of Borrelia-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (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.

Lyme disease is concentrated in certain areas because there are specific environmental conditions that help support it. According to data collected between 2008 and 2015, the vast majority of Lyme disease occurs in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest regions of the United States.

High-incidence states include:

  • Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and other parts of New England
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

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 Borrelia-specific 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 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. 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 3 to 30 days after the tick bite, according to the CDC. The average delay is about seven days after the tick bite.

About 70% to 80% of people with Lyme disease have a single erythema migrans rash. However, not every person experiences it.

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

Other symptoms of Lyme disease

  • fatigue
  • achy joints, particularly in one knee
  • headache
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes
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Lyme disease that remains unnoticed or untreated can 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, which mimics aseptic meningitis. Heart inflammation can also be a sign of Lyme disease.

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

“If someone gets a positive at-home test, definitely see [a] doctor,” said Dr. Puja Uppal, 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 wonder 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 guide 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 in their offices but will send you for testing at a nearby lab.

Before testing for Lyme disease, doctors 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 CDC, doctors should perform a two-step testing process for the disease. If your sample tests negative, no further testing is required. In the case of a positive or indeterminate result, doctors will order a second test. A second positive result determines an overall positive diagnosis.

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.

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Early detection and treatment of Lyme disease 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 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 are in an area where it is common, it’s wise to seek medical care as soon as possible. If certain symptoms and risk factors are present, doctors will typically treat Lyme disease without waiting for a test result.

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.

If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can affect other systems in the body. It may cause symptoms like:

  • arthritis
  • inflammation
  • pain
  • stiffness

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
  • a biohazard bag

Kits may contain extras such as Styrofoam holders, labels, or tubes with varying solutions inside.

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, a doctor will likely order a second test called a Western blot or PCR test.

These tests can still take 4–6 weeks to show positive results after symptoms start. That’s why doctors will typically treat for Lyme disease even without a positive test result if you have certain symptoms and risk factors.

Medicare doesn’t currently cover at-home Lyme disease tests.

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 CDC, the transmission of Lyme disease from a pregnant person to the 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 Lyme disease, talk with a healthcare professional immediately.

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.

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 time in a wooded area. If you suspect a tick bite or have symptoms, seek medical attention immediately for prompt assessment and treatment.