Lyme disease is a type of infection caused by bacteria that enter the human body through a tick bite. When an individual has Lyme disease, borrelial lymphocytoma (or lymphocytoma cutis) can sometimes occur. This complication is not considered a separate disease but rather a secondary syndrome resulting from the primary infection.
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Classic Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by an infection of a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted through a tick bite. Different strains of the bacteria exist in various locations around the world, leading to a slightly different pattern of symptoms depending on where the infection occurred.
The hallmark sign of Lyme disease is a red, circular rash that gradually expands outward on the skin. In the second phase of the illness, bacteria further invade the body and infection spreads to other body systems, causing rashes, muscle or joint pain, dizziness or meningitis. Lyme disease may also cause chronic nerve damage.
Geography of Lymphocytoma Infections
Because the type of bacteria residing in tick hosts differs by region, the secondary symptoms associated with Lyme disease may vary. In Europe, borrelial lymphocytoma may occur in the second, systemic phase of the illness as the bacteria spread through the body. Lymphocytoma has never been reported in North America, according to EMedicine.com. It is unknown why European Lyme disease may cause lymphocytoma while infections from other regions do not.
Symptoms of Lymphocytoma
Borrelial lymphocytoma is characterised by a single nodule of 0.4 inch to 1.2 inches. The nodules may be firm and either red, purple or colourless. Nodules from borrelial lymphocytoma commonly form in areas with lower skin temperature, including the ear lobes, nipples, nose and scrotum. The nodule itself is not harmful.
Cause of Lymphocytoma
Lymphocytoma occurs when lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are recruited to an area of the skin in response to an infection. Other inflammatory cells may follow, creating the nodule characteristic of borrelial lymphocytoma. The condition itself is not painful or dangerous and represents a normal immune response to Lyme disease.
Treatment of Lyme Disease with Lymphocytoma
Lyme disease and associated lymphocytoma is diagnosed by a physician or dermatologist. The doctor conducts a physical examination of a skin rash and orders a blood test to confirm the diagnosis of Lyme disease. The physical examination also reveals whether a patient has borrelial lymphocytoma.
Both Lyme disease and lymphocytoma are treated with a course of antibiotics to kill the bacterial infection. Antibiotic courses of two or three weeks are usually recommended, though practices may vary depending on the severity of the illness and clinical judgment of the physician. Catching Lyme disease and lymphocytoma in their early stages is important to prevent chronic damage to the nervous system.
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