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Delusions of parasitosis
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Delusions of parasitosis

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Contributors: Melissa Danesh MD, Noah Craft MD, PhD, Susan Burgin MD
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Synopsis

Delusions of parasitosis (also known as delusional infestation or monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis) is a primary psychiatric disorder in which the patient possesses a fixed belief that he or she is suffering from a cutaneous infestation with parasites. Such patients often give elaborate histories that include tactile / visual hallucinations and visits to multiple providers. Often, they have tried various strategies to eradicate the alleged parasites (eg, using pesticides, hiring exterminators).

The typical patient is a socially isolated middle-aged to elderly female, although delusions of parasitosis can affect both sexes and all ages. Patients will often appear anxious and overwhelmed. Skin lesions, when present, are self-induced with the fingernails or other implements.

The clinician should be aware of the "matchbox sign" – patients will often bring lint, pieces of skin, and other debris to an office visit in plastic wrap or matchboxes, claiming that these items represent evidence of parasitic infection. Even though these collections contain no parasites, the patient believes that they represent organisms, pieces of organisms, ova, or larvae.

There are several variations of this disorder:
  • Folie à deux ("a madness shared by two") – when a delusion of infestation has been transmitted to a significant other.
  • Firm belief that a spouse, child, or pet is infested.
Antipsychotics can be quite effective in treating this debilitating disease.

Codes

ICD10CM:
F22 – Delusional disorders

SNOMEDCT:
89809008 – Delusion of parasitosis

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Psychiatric differential diagnosis:

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Therapy

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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References

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Last Reviewed: 05/25/2018
Last Updated: 06/22/2018
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Delusions of parasitosis
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Delusions of parasitosis : Anxiety, Excoriation, Self-mutilating behavior, Skin erosion, Atrophic scar, Skin ulceration
Clinical image of Delusions of parasitosis
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