Summary: Parasitosis, or delusional parasitosis, causes people to feel insects crawling on them when nothing can be seen on the skin.
Have you ever had the sensation that something was crawling across your back or up your leg, but when you looked for the creepy crawly there was nothing to be found? Don't call the local exterminator just yet.
One explanation for this is a condition known as delusional parasitosis, or DP, and it is a serious medical ailment that can be treated. Also known as Ekbom's Syndrom, DP is categorized in three ways. Primary delusional parasitosis is the œpure form. The symptom is called formication, and it is the feeling of something crawling on or biting the skin. The secondary functional form of delusional parasitosis is associated with another psychological disorder such as schizophrenia or clinical depression. The final variety is secondary organic DP and it can be brought on by an illness such as cancer, hypothyroidism, tuberculosis, and neurological disorders.
Parasitosis is more common in women and occurs more frequently in people over the age of forty. Menopause can be capable of bringing about the tingling sensations and itching associated with delusional parasitosis. A different factor that can induce parasitosis is allergies. People exposed to mold or who have eaten excess fungus sometimes complain of the burrowing, itching sensation on or under their skin. Drug abuse is a known cause of parasitosis, as well. Abusing cocaine or methamphetamines sometimes causes the user to feel as if they have something crawling over them, when in fact they do not. Poor nutrition has also been known to create symptoms of parasitosis.
Behavioral patterns for people who have this condition include collecting skin samples in jars to show to medical professionals and obsessively cleaning. Sufferers of this condition might be at risk of injuring themselves by trying to dig out unseen irritants or by causing scrapes and scratches from constant itching, which can become infected. Frequently, those diagnosed with delusional parasitosis resist treatment. Some patients have gone as far as trying to treat themselves by pouring bleach, pesticides, or boiling water on their skin in order to sooth the irritation. This method is defiantly not recommended.
It is still unclear what causes parasitosis in some cases. Because the elderly are more frequently afflicted than younger adults or children, it has been hypothesized that some kinds of medication that treat heart conditions, glaucoma, osteoporosis, and arthritis can lead to side effects similar to that of parasitosis. Check to make sure that any medication you are currently taking does not have these kinds of side effects.
Isolation from society is yet another suggestion as to what causes DP. Anxiety, stress, and lack of sleep are other explanations for what causes the alarming sensation. Bell's Syndrome (The Power of Suggestion) makes it possible for the experience to spread to others who will demonstrate similar behavior and symptoms.
If you suffer from persistent itching and crawling sensations then consult a doctor. Scabies is a common irritation caused by mites that are invisible to the naked eye, but can be treated by using a medicated shampoo, or other treatment options. If this is not effective then consider trying some of the psychological alternatives which have been proven to be effective when no insects are present.
Although these mysterious symptoms might make you feel as if you are under attack by a legion of unseen insects, if you cannot find any then stop vacuuming the house and rewashing clothing. There are many possible explanations for such sensations, but this time the exterminator can only help by wishing you good luck and good health.