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Lyme disease, or borreliosis, is a tick-borne infectious disease that can cause symptoms such as fever, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease tests may help people who believe they have contracted the infection and are available in major pharmacies, retail stores, and online.
- Best for a quick turnaround: LetsGetChecked Lyme Disease Test | Skip to review
- Best easy-to-use option: Everlywell Lyme Disease Test | Skip to review
- Best in-person test: Quest Lyme Disease Test | Skip to review
- Best for multiple collection methods: IGeneX Lyme Disease Test | Skip to review
This article explores Lyme disease and some test kits that individuals can consider buying. It also describes when a person should speak with a doctor and includes some frequently asked questions.
Lyme disease is an infection that develops from the Borrelia bacterium. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is the
The bacterium spreads to humans through the bite of a black-legged tick — also known as the deer tick — carrying the infection. These insects can only transmit the bacteria if they have been attached to the skin for
However, most people contract the infection through nymphs. These are tiny, immature ticks fewer than 2 millimeters in size and equivalent to the size of poppy seeds, making them hard to detect.
Untreated Lyme disease can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system, causing individuals to experience:
- nerve pain
- numbness in the hands or feet
- inflammation in the brain and spinal cord
- neck stiffness
- heart palpitations
- irregular heartbeat
- Bell’s palsy
Furthermore, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) states that even with treatment, some symptoms may become permanent. Some people also develop arthritis or confusion, or experience concentration difficulty during the months or years following the initial tick bite.
People can find many at-home Lyme disease tests online.
They typically come with instructions, and most companies require individuals to collect their samples at home and mail it to a lab for testing. The lab then issues the results; a person can access them via email or a company’s online portal.
People may also be able to speak with a company’s medical team to discuss their results and, if applicable, any next steps.
Medical News Today chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria where possible:
- Laboratories: MNT will choose companies that process test samples in
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certifiedlabs. This means they follow state and federal regulations.
- Budget: MNT chooses at-home tests that suit a wide range of budgets.
- Privacy: MNT includes companies that offer robust and transparent privacy measures, such as data protection and discreet packaging.
- Test result speed: MNT selects companies that inform customers when they will receive their test results and whether they will receive them via email, app, or phone.
- Further support: MNT will indicate whether a company offers further support, such as a follow-up phone consultation with a doctor to discuss test results.
Below are four Lyme disease tests a person can find online.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Best for a quick turnaround: LetsGetChecked Lyme Disease Test
- Sample collection: fingerprick
- Turnaround time: 2–5 days
- Price: $119
This kit from LetsGetChecked tests for Borrelia IgG and IgM antibodies through a fingerprick. The website states people should receive the test 5–7 days after ordering.
The company requires individuals to activate the kit, so they can collect the sample and send it back using the prepaid shipping label. They can then access their results on their online account within 2–5 days.
In addition, LetsGetChecked laboratories have a
- nursing team available to discuss results
- free shipping
- payment available through a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA)
- higher price stage for single-test kits
- shipping unavailable to all countries
Best easy-to-use option: Everlywell Lyme Disease Test
- Sample collection type: fingerprick
- Turnaround time: within days, but does not state when
- Price: $109
The Everlywell Lyme Disease Test checks for a person’s exposure to any of the three strains of Borrelia bacteria. The test may suit those experiencing fatigue, headaches, or joint pain. The test offers a fingerprick sample collection.
Once people receive their kits, they can register them online, collect their sample, and return it to the labs using the prepaid shipping labels. They can access their results through their online dashboards.
- uses CLIA-certified labs
- free shipping
- accepts HSA and FSA payments
- independent board certified physicians who review and approve tests
- longer time to publish results
- not available in New York
- relatively expensive
Best in-person test: Quest Lyme Disease Test
- Sample collection type: blood test
- Turnaround time: within 5 days
- Price: $89 and a $6 physician visit fee
The Quest Lyme Disease Test is available in person. People purchase their test and book an appointment with a nearby Quest Patient Service Center, where a medical professional collects the sample.
They then receive their results through their MyQuest accounts.
- results available online through MyQuest portal
- the company health team will contact individuals directly if results require prompt attention
- additional physician fee
- no receipt for health plan reimbursement
Best with multiple collection methods: IGeneX Lyme Disease Test
- Sample collection type: blood or urine
- Turnaround time: after 10 days
- Price: $295–546, each assay costs $195
People who wish to buy a test kit from IGeneX pay a $20 deposit fee. They then complete the paperwork with their doctor to determine which tests they should use.
Afterward, an individual can collect their sample at home and mail it to IGeneX. The company then sends the results to the doctor.
- CLIA-certified labs
- doctors help in choosing a test kit
- several collection methods available
- not a true home test — doctors help clients complete the paperwork and receive their results
- paperwork and billing systems can be complex
does not recommendurine testing for antigens, as there is not enough evidence for their accuracy
The table below provides a comparison between the four at-home Lyme disease tests:
|Standout features||quick turnaround of results||easy to use||for testing in person with a doctor||offers several collection methods|
|Sample collection type||fingerprick||fingerprick||blood test||blood or urine|
|Turnaround time||2–5 days||within days but does not state when||within 5 days||after 10 days|
|Price||$119||$109||$89 + physician visit fee||$295–$546|
At-home testing may be more convenient and discreet than a healthcare clinic or office. It may also be cheaper than paying for a visit to a physician.
However, at-home test results do not consider a person’s circumstances. For example, it does not know a person’s medical history.
In addition, not all at-home testing services connect people with a healthcare professional to discuss the results and any next steps. People who use services that do not allow them to contact healthcare professionals may misinterpret results.
It is also important to consider if an at-home test checks for the same markers as a clinical test from a physician. If a test does not screen for the same markers as a test from a healthcare professional, there is a risk of a person receiving a false negative.
At-home Lyme disease tests are unlikely to follow the
According to MedlinePlus, people should arrange for a Lyme disease test if they develop symptoms and have recently removed a tick.
Individuals may require multiple tests if they believe they have Lyme disease. This is because many tests check for the presence of antibodies, which may take weeks to develop.
There are several differences between at-home and in-person Lyme disease tests. A person may consider these differences before choosing which one to purchase.
It is simple to purchase an at-home test: A person chooses which company to buy from and waits for the company to ship the test to their home.
However, this means that a person does not always purchase a test at the recommendation of a healthcare professional. Several conditions, such as Lyme disease, have an incubation period. This means that the antibodies at-home tests screen for may not be present for several weeks.
If a person wishes to use at-home testing, they should purchase from a company that recommends when to test to ensure they do not receive a false negative.
Once a person receives the test, they collect the sample. The company that provides the test should always include clear instructions and all the tools a person needs to collect a sample, such as a blood lancet or a urine container.
It is important to collect the sample correctly. Incorrect collection may invalidate the results of the test. Once a person has collected the sample, they send it to the company’s laboratory.
Most companies give a person their test results within a week of receiving the sample. Some may offer consultations with a healthcare professional upon receiving a positive result.
However, this means those who receive a negative result but still experience Lyme disease symptoms may wonder about their next steps.
Undergoing an in-person test can be quite different from an at-home test.
Firstly, a healthcare professional will take a history and ask questions such as whether a person has been exposed to ticks. They may also consider other diagnoses before ordering Lyme disease tests, as ticks
A qualified technician will take appropriate blood samples. This reduces the risk of an invalid sample.
Healthcare professionals will follow the CDC’s recommendation of two-step testing. People can also discuss positive or negative test results and any next steps.
At-home vs. in-person test comparison
The following table provides a quick overview of the differences between at-home vs. in-person testing for Lyme disease.
|Where to get||online||healthcare professional|
|Order process||choose a test and pay||a physician will take a history before ordering a test|
|Where to collect the sample||at home by the individual||at a lab by a qualified technician|
|Results time||within a week of the lab receiving the sample||may vary depending on the lab|
|Healthcare professional advice||only on receipt of a positive result, and varies by company||on receipt of a positive or negative result|
|Follows CDC’s two-step testing recommendation||unlikely||yes|
|Benefits||more convenient, discreet, and may be less expensive||less chance of an invalid sample and advice on the next steps regardless of the test result|
|Disadvantages||more likely to take a sample incorrectly and may not have access to a healthcare professional after receiving the test results||likely to be more expensive|
To find the right at-home Lyme disease test, a person should consider whether:
- the at-home test measures the same levels as a clinical test from a doctor
- test kit samples are sent to CLIA-certified laboratories
- the company provides users access to support from medical professionals
- the total cost of the test kit suits their budget
- the company provides test results in a timely, private, and convenient way
- they are confident in their ability to collect a good sample
According to the
They do not need to perform another test if they receive a negative result. However, if their first test is positive or indeterminate, it is best to test again.
The CDC states the overall result is only positive for Lyme disease when the first and second tests produce a positive result.
Tests detect IgM and IgG antibodies that the body produces in response to an infection. The IgM antibodies appear early in response to the exposure, while the IgG antibodies appear 4–6 weeks after the infection and can persist for years.
However, individuals may develop antibodies several weeks after exposure. Therefore, those who test before the antibodies develop can get a false negative.
False positives can occur if a person has other conditions, including:
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to help prevent late Lyme disease and its symptoms, including chronic Lyme arthritis and Lyme carditis.
A person should speak with a doctor if they have a tick bite or believe it has bitten them after visiting tick-prone regions.
They should also seek medical help if they experience any signs and symptoms of Lyme disease. These
Undetected and untreated Lyme disease can spread and affect more areas, such as the joints, heart, and nervous system. Additional symptoms may include:
People who develop new symptoms despite having had Lyme disease should speak with a medical professional.
The following are commonly asked questions about Lyme disease tests.
What is the most accurate Lyme disease test?
According to the
What are the first symptoms of Lyme disease?
People with Lyme disease develop an erythema migrans rash. They can also have a fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, and joint pain.
How much does a Lyme disease test cost?
The Lyme disease tests listed in this article range from around $50–$600.
What is the outlook for Lyme disease?
The outlook for Lyme disease is typically manageable. Upon early diagnosis, doctors can prescribe antibiotics. Other forms of the disease may require additional treatment, but the prolonged use of antibiotics has not proven successful.
How do they test for Lyme disease?
Medical professionals analyze a blood sample and look for antibodies to test for Lyme disease. For some people, physicians may recommend collecting a sample of cerebral spinal fluid for analysis.
The two most common antibody tests are the ELISA and the Western blot.
However, it can take as long as 30 days for a person to develop antibodies for Lyme disease, so if they get tested soon after exposure, they could get a “false negative.”
How can I test myself for Lyme disease?
To self-test for Lyme disease, a person can order an at-home test kit from one of the companies online, such as the four discussed in this article. Many companies do not require a person to consult with a medical professional first.
However, note that antibodies for Lyme disease can take weeks to develop, which could result in a false negative. Additionally, the CDC recommends two-step testing to avoid false positives. Look for at-home test companies that provide access to medical professionals to help a person take proper action after testing.
What are three common signs of Lyme disease?
According to the CDC, three common signs of Lyme disease are:
- an erythema rash that resembles a bullseye develops at the site of the tick bite in
70-80 percentof persons who get Lyme disease
- muscle and joint aches
Lyme disease is an infection that spreads through the bite of a black-legged tick. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in reducing the chance of complications.
People can find test kits online, many offering a fingerprick collection.
Many companies work with CLIA-certified labs and issue results within a few days. Some also have a nursing team to discuss results and further treatment with the individual if required.