Cutaneous larva migraines, commonly known as creeping eruptions or ground itch, it a skin infection which is caused by a parasite called hookworm. These parasites do not generally infect humans and are found in the stomach of dogs and cats. However, if humans come in contact with these hookworms after they have been discharged by the dog or cat, they can cause this skin disease which causes a rash which looks like larvae are crawling under your skin. This disease is prevalent in countries with warmer climates like South American continent, and south-east US. Mostly the infection is carried through contaminated soil.
Hookworm is a parasite which is found in the stomach of animals like cats and dogs. It is not a natural human parasite. However, when animals discharge the waste from their body, their faeces may contain the hookworm eggs. If the faeces are not cleaned or burned within 1-2 weeks, these faeces develop into larvae which then move into the surrounding earth. If a human comes in contact with such earth or soil which contains hookworm larvae, the larvae will burrow through into the skin on even the slightest contact and cause creeping eruptions.
The main symptom of the creeping eruption is a red itchy rash on the specific area of skin where the larvae have burrowed through. The rash also has unique appearance as it looks snake-like. In fact, the medical term of creeping eruption, that is, cutaneous larvae migraines, literally means larvae that move around inside the skin. Accordingly the rash, which is also accompanied with the general itching and redness as with any other dermatological condition, has this unique symptom of looking as if worms are crawling under your skin.
Since it is a skin infection, the first sign of this disease is a general itching, burning sensation and redness of the skin. It may be followed by blisters which may be severe or not and may last for a long time depending on the extent of infection. Finally, the rash itself will appear which has its own unique appearance because of the larvae which have burrowed under your skin to cause the infection.
Creeping eruptions are only skin deep since the larvae is anyway not a natural human parasite. Therefore, it just lies under the topmost epidermis of the skin. It is easily identifiable by its unique pattern. A skin biopsy may or may not be done in which a skin sample is taken to be studied under a microscope. In rare cases a blood test may also be done to make sure that the bacteria has not infected the blood.
Diagnosis of this disease is quite easy and hassle free because of the unique design of the rash. The doctor can quite comfortably give a diagnosis in just one visual examination though he may prescribe a skin biopsy or a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. Since this disease is most often contracted through contaminated soil, the doctor will also in all probability ask you if your occupation involves working in close proximity to the soil such as a farm worker or if you have recently been to a farm, especially in a region with warm and humid climate.
The prognosis for creeping eruptions is generally good as the infection is only skin deep and the larvae are not very active since a human body is not their natural habitat. With proper treatment, the infection can be cured in a matter of days and does not recur or cause any problem in the future unless you get infected again.
Creeping eruptions is a disease which is contracted due to contamination in the soil caused due to uncleaned faeces of dogs and cats. If you yourself are the owner of a farm, you can ensure that farm animal waste is cleaned up before it infects the soil. Otherwise too, if you are working on a daily basis in close proximity to earth, you should always wear shoes and gloves to avoid getting this disease. In many places, dogs have been banned from beaches only for the purpose of preventing an outbreak of creeping eruptions among beachgoers who often walk barefoot on the sand.
Creeping eruptions is a fairly rare and unique disease which is caused due to infection of the hookworm larvae. Since hookworm is not a human parasite, it does not cause any other type of disease in humans and even the creeping eruptions are only skin deep and do not affect any organ. There are no further types of this disease.
The infection caused by the hookworm larvae is generally restricted to the skin. However, in rare cases it may create complications by infecting the blood or the small intestine which would then require far more advanced treatment. Another complication can be an increased risk to other kinds of bacterial infection due to blisters and constant soreness of the skin.
Home Remedies :
Some popular home remedies for creeping eruptions are using soothing products like tea tree oil and baking powder mixed with water to soothe the irritation in the skin. Using goldenseal is a popular remedy for reducing the burning itchy sensation while honey and green tea soaked in warm water can be really beneficial due to their anti-bacterial properties. These remedies will surely help in reducing the redness and inflammation though they might not have effect on the larvae burrowed under the skin.
There are a number of ways for treating creeping eruptions :
- Albendazole and ivermectin are two medicines which can be taken orally.
- An antihelminthic (Anthelmintic) like thiabendazole can be mixed with Vaseline and applied as a lotion to kill the larvae.
- Liquid nitrogen or ethylene chloride is popular freezing agent which will freeze the bacteria under the skin and cause it to dry out and die because of the low temperature.
When To Contact Your Doctor?
Creeping eruptions generally start out with all the major symptoms of a normal skin rash including redness of the skin, itching and occasionally blisters. Most OTC lotions and topical creams can be used to cure such rashes. But if you or anyone in your family develops a rash which looks snake-like and also shifts from one area of the body to another, it is a definitive sign that these are the hookworm larvae moving under your skin and you must contact the doctor immediately.