Treatment for erythema migrans

People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Early diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease can help prevent late Lyme disease.

Treatment regimens listed in the following table are for the erythema migrans rash, the most common manifestation of early Lyme disease. These regimens may need to be adjusted depending on a person’s age, medical history, underlying health conditions, pregnancy status, or allergies. Consult an infectious disease specialist regarding individual patient treatment decisions.

 

Treatment regimens for localized (early) Lyme disease.
Age Category Drug Dosage Maximum Duration, Days* References
Adults Doxycycline
OR
100 mg, twice per day orally N/A 10-14 1 – 6
Amoxicillin
OR
500 mg, three times per day orally N/A 14 1, 3, 6
Cefuroxime 500 mg, twice per day orally N/A 14 6, 10, 11
Children Doxycycline
OR
4.4 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses 100 mg per dose 10–14 7,9
Amoxicillin
OR
50 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 3 doses 500 mg per dose 14 7,8
Cefuroxime 30 mg/kg per day orally, divided into 2 doses 500 mg per dose 14 8, 10, 11

*When different durations of antibiotics are shown to be effective for the treatment of Lyme disease, the shorter duration is preferred to minimize unnecessary antibiotics that might result in adverse effects, including infectious diarrhea and antimicrobial resistance.

NOTE: For people intolerant of amoxicillin, doxycycline, and cefuroxime, the macrolide azithromycin may be used, although it is less effective. People treated with azithromycin should be closely monitored to ensure that symptoms resolve.

Treatment for other forms of Lyme disease

People with other forms of disseminated Lyme disease may require longer courses of antibiotics or intravenous treatment with antibiotics such as ceftriaxone.  For more information about treating other forms of Lyme disease, see:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded several studies on the treatment of Lyme disease that show most people recover within a few weeks of completing a course of oral antibiotics when treated soon after symptom onset. In a small percentage of cases, symptoms such as fatigue (being tired) and myalgia (muscle aches) can last for more than 6 months. This condition is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), although it is also sometimes called chronic Lyme disease. For details on research into chronic Lyme disease and long-term treatment trials sponsored by NIH, visit the visit the National Institutes of Health Lyme Disease web siteexternal icon.

References

  1. Kowalski TJ, Tata S, Berth W, et al. Antibiotic treatment duration and long-term outcomes of patients with early Lyme disease from a Lyme disease-hyperendemic areaexternal icon. Clin Infect Dis. 2010 Feb 15;50(4):512-20.
  2. Nowakowski J, Nadelman RB, Forseter G, et al. Doxycycline versus tetracycline therapy for Lyme disease associated with erythema migransexternal icon. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1995;32(2 Pt 1):223-227.
  3. Smith RP, Schoen RT, Rahn DW, et al. Clinical characteristics and treatment outcome of early Lyme disease in patients with microbiologically confirmed erythema migransexternal icon. Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(6):421-428.
  4. Stupica D, Lusa L, Ruzić-Sabljić E,dt al. Treatment of erythema migrans with doxycycline for 10 days versus 15 daysexternal icon. Clin Infect Dis. 2012;55(3):343-350.
  5. Wormser GP, Brady KC, Cho MS, et al. Efficacy of a 14-day course of amoxicillin for patients with erythema migransexternal icon. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2019;94(2):192-194.
  6. Torbahn G, Hofmann H, Rücker G, et al. Efficacy and safety of antibiotic therapy in early cutaneous Lyme borreliosisexternal icon. JAMA Dermatology 2018;154(11):1292-1303.
  7. Chason M, Monaghan M, Wang J, et al. Symptom resolution in pediatric patients with Lyme diseaseexternal icon. J Ped Infect Dis Soc
  8. Eppes S, Childs J. Comparative study of cefuroxime axetil versus amoxicillin in children with early Lyme diseaseexternal icon. Pediatrics 2002; 109:1173-1177.
  9. American Academy of Pediatrics. Red Book, 31st 2018. Lyme disease.
  10. Arnez M, Radsel-Medvescek A, Pleterski-Rigler D, et al. Comparison of cefuroxime axetil and phenoxymethyl penicillin for the treatment of children with solitary erythema migrans.external icon Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1999 Dec 10;111(22-23):916-22.
  11. Cerar D, Cerar T, Ruzić-Sabljić E, et al. Subjective symptoms after treatment of early Lyme disease.external icon Am J Med. 2010 Jan;123(1):79-86.