Illusory Parasitosis

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Arthropods and the Clinical Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Illusory Parasitosis

Illusory parasitosis: Condition where the individual has a true itch, but believes (mistakenly) it is caused by an infestation of arthropods.
While some patients may indeed have infestations, others suffer from a psychiatric condition known as delusional parasitosis (DP). The individual believes strongly that the itch is caused by ectoparasites or internal parasites. In neuroses cases of distress such as these, the patient believes he feels parasites crawling under his skin. Intense scratching to the point of injury is common. (Secondary bacterial infection to the skin commonly occurs.)
The clinical laboratory may receive a patient sample containing:
  • Small particles
  • Dust
  • Skin flakes
  • Other material (such as small pieces of yarn, string, or other artifacts)