15/11/18 Pest Of The Week – Delusional Parisitosis
Delusional parasitosis, although not a pest, is a rare disorder in which affected individuals have the fixed, false belief (delusion) that they are infected by “bugs”: parasites, worms, bacteria, mites, or other living organisms. As with all delusions, this belief cannot be corrected by reasoning, persuasion, or logical argument. Many affected individuals are quite functional; for the minority, delusions of parasitic infection may interfere with usual activities.
Sufferers typically say their bugs, parasites, or worms: • burrow in and out of the skin, or go in and out of body openings; • infest various internal organs, and may be found in body fluids; • change form or colour to avoid detection; • come out of common household items such as toothpaste, cosmetics, upholstered furniture; • attack other family members who cannot see them.
The person suffering from classic delusional parasitosis may exhibit any of the following signs and symptoms: • spends hours every day cleaning, scrubbing, and sterilizing clothes, skin, furniture, and fixtures, even vehicles; • treats skin and clothes with pesticides, gasoline, paraffin, toxic chemicals, and various home remedies; • moves out of home (rarely) and destroys “infested” furniture and fixtures; • has sores and even deep ulcerations from trying to “dig out” the parasites, worms, or bugs • eagerly and repeatedly recites a detailed history of the condition, with all the steps taken to resolve it; • angrily rejects any idea that the bugs don’t exist; • has consulted with numerous pest control companies and other “experts”, shopping for anyone to agree that they are infested. You may be told that you’re their “last hope”; • exhibits “matchbox sign”—offering boxes or plastic bags with samples of skin scrapings, dried blood and scabs, toilet paper, hair, and lint “proving” that their problem is real.
Sometimes more than one family member will share the delusions, usually a husband and wife, and rarely an entire family. If you believe someone may suffer from delusional parasitosis, you should check that there are no pests involved. Limit your inspection to the premises. Simply state to the person that you could find no pests and so you can do nothing more. Advise them to check with a physician or a dermatologist. Most experts agree that it is pointless to argue with the sufferer as there is no way to sway them. Most critically, don’t agree with the sufferer or carry out a placebo type treatment just to placate them, you will only make the situation worse.
If you suspect someone you know has delusional parasitosis in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee or Perth, urge them to contact their GP. GRAHAM pest control can help check that no pests are involved.