So What is Delusional Skin Infestation?
This disease, also known as Ekbom Syndrome and delusions of parasitosis, is a form of psychosis. Victims of this are convinced that they are infested with parasites when there is rarely any evidence of such. Victims describe symptoms like sensations of bugs crawling underneath or on their skin, being able to see bugs coming out of their skin, and black specks or faeces left behind by the parasites on their skin.
There are three main types of delusional skin infestation, primary, secondary functional and secondary organic. Primary infestation is where an individual has delusions of parasitosis, but has no other mental deterioration. Secondary functional parasitosis occurs when the delusions occur alongside another disorder like depression or schizophrenia. Secondary organic delusions occur when the patient takes a drug or when they have a medical illness that causes hallucinations.
The symptoms of delusional skin infestation vary from one individual to another, but in general, individuals describe that they know that they have parasites crawling under their skin or burrowing into their skin. Occasionally, this is accompanied by the physical sensation of crawling or movement under the skin and this is known as formication.
Sufferers also tend to gather evidence for their doctors. Nearly any particle or speck found on their clothing or skin can be interpreted as evidence and it often gets collected in a small container, ready for presenting to their doctor. If the psychosis is particularly strong, the individuals may find parasites to present to their doctors, but by the time they get to the doctor’s office, the parasites have ‘disappeared’.
Another form of delusional parasitosis is known as delusional tinea, which is where the individual thinks that they have skin mycoses.
Treatment of Delusional Skin Infestation
Again, treatment of this disorder depends on the severity of the symptoms and whether it’s the primary, secondary functional or secondary organic strain of the disorder.
In secondary functional and secondary organic, the treatment of the delusions is started by treating the primary disorder or dysfunction, and in primary, it’s treated simply with antipsychotic drugs. The most commonly used medications for this disorder are atypical antipsychotics, such as olanzapine and risperidone, and from the typical antipsychotics, pimozide is the drug of choice.
Many victims do refuse treatment because they believe that the doctors are not treating them in the way that they would want to be treated, despite many success stories of treatment.
Morgellons disease is a relatively new and undiscovered disease that is dividing the medical community. It is a skin condition that is characterized by a range of symptoms including crawling sensations, biting and stinging sensations, sores and lesions on the surface of the skin and finding specks and parasitic bodies on the skin and clothes. Some individuals describe being able to see tiny white bodies moving under their skin, especially in UV light, and actually being able to see white bodies coming out of their skin.
Many doctors are reserving judgement on Morgellons because there is just not enough evidence to support the claims made by the sufferers. However, there is a charity foundation that has been set up to persuade doctors and the medical profession that Morgellons is a real and very scary disease.
It has to be said, anyone suffering from delusional skin infestation of any sort must be going through a very scary time and I do not envy them in any way. I only hope that their medical staff are understanding and do not make the individuals feel inferior or like their mental health is deteriorating – because sadly, that seems to be the general complaint made by most sufferers of delusional parasitosis.