The idea of creepy crawly creatures roaming over your body is enough to make anyone nervous. Parasitic infections, however, are far more common than most people realize. While parasitic infections are typically not life-threatening, they can lead to great physical discomfort. When left untreated, however, parasitic infections can spread beyond the skin, affecting the bloodstream and other organs. You should consult our dermatologist at Piedmont Plastic Surgery & Dermatology if you think you or your child may have a parasitic infection.
What is a Parasitic Infection?
A parasitic infection is an infection of the skin that is caused by a parasite. These parasites are usually a small insect or worm which burrows into the skin, where it lays eggs, or bites in order to feed on human blood.
What are the Types of Parasitic Skin Infections?
- Head lice are quite common in preschool and elementary school children. These small, wingless insects bite the host and suck its blood, leaving itchy, red bite marks in their wake.
- Scabies is caused by a mite called sarcoptes scabiei and causes an itchy, red rash to form on the surface of the skin. If this type of infection is left untreated, the mites can burrow into the skin, laying eggs, and plaguing the host for months.
- Creeping eruption is a parasitic infection that is caused by hookworms. Also known as cutaneous larva migrans, or sandworm disease, creeping eruption is characterized by itching, blisters, and a rash which grows in a red, winding pattern on the skin. It can increase in size by up to one to two centimeters per day.
How are Parasitic Infections Treated?
Parasitic infections are treated with anti-parasitic medication which is administered either topically as a cream, wash, or ointment, or orally. In some cases, an oral antihistamine may also be administered in order to control itching. For some parasites, it may be necessary to treat the entire household in order to ensure the infection does not continue to spread.