Erythema chronicum migrans
What is Erythema chronicum migrans?
Erythema chronicum migrans (New Latin, literally, "chronic migrating redness") refers to the rash often (though not always) seen in the early stage of Lyme disease. It can appear anywhere from one day to one month after a tick bite. This rash does not represent an allergic reaction to the bite, but rather an actual skin infection with the Lyme bacteria, ''Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato''. "Erythema migrans is the only manifestation of Lyme disease in the United States that is sufficiently distinctive to allow clinical diagnosis in the absence of laboratory confirmation.". It is a pathognomonic sign: a physician-identified rash warrants an instant diagnosis of Lyme disease and immediate treatment without further testing, even by the strict criteria of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These rashes are characteristic of Borrelia infections and no other pathogens are known that cause this form of rash.
A similar condition called Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) produces a similar rash pattern although it develops more quickly and is smaller. The associated infectious agent has not been determined. Antibiotic treatment resolves the illness quickly.
This erythema is also sometimes called erythema migrans or EM. However, a less common meaning of the term "erythema migrans" is a mucosal condition of the tongue, also called geographic tongue.