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Delusional Parasitosis

Thorough testing by a competent physician should lead to a diagnosis and understanding, if not a cure, for most sensations of infestation caused by metabolic disorders or other medical problems listed above. Certainly stopping drug abuse will greatly diminish, if not abolish, symptoms of drug-induced feelings of parasitosis. But if thorough allergy and medical testing leaves you with a "perfect bill of health" and the symptoms still persist, then you have to seriously consider the possibility that you are suffering from delusional parasitosis. Recognition of a mistaken belief in parasite infestation is extremely hard if not impossible for the sufferer, even with adequate medical advice.

Delusional Parasitosis is defined as a medical disorder in which the patient has a mistaken belief of being infested by parasites such as mites, lice, fleas, spiders, worms, bacteria, or other organisms. The basis of this belief is sensations in the skin that are very real to the sufferer. These sensations of irritation, itching or of crawling organisms are so real that the victim is rightfully driven to believe that something is there. Usually, the sufferer scratches the itches, but they don't go away. More scratching leads to rashes, open wounds and sores, then infections. Failure to obtain relief from over-the-counter or prescribed medications often drives the sufferer to apply unconventional and sometimes highly toxic compounds to his or her body in a desperate attempt to alleviate symptoms. Skin conditions become worse or much more complicated and so do the symptoms.

In a desperate attempt to find the causative agent, some people mutilate themselves externally and internally. Sometimes the parasites appear to be visible to the afflicted person, but they cannot be caught. The person sometimes will submit pieces of their own tissues to medical or other professionals, in a desperate effort to demonstrate the pests. When no parasites are discovered, the patient's frustration level reaches incredible heights.

The presence or absence of a rash should determine what kind of physician you go to seek help. If is a rash or itchy lumps then a dermatologist would be most appropriate. If there are no obvious skin signs, except what is caused by scratching, then an internal medicine specialist might be the place to start.

There are strong correlations with age and delusional parasitosis. The majority of sufferers appear to be postmenopausal women, particularly Caucasians. Partly this appears to be due to hormonal changes and partly skin thinning and sun damage (solar elastosis) causing crawling, itching, pinching sensations in the skin.

Very often there is a corollary problem associated with delusional parasitosis - stress. Stress often manifests itself in people as a nervous habit or "nervous tic" but these conditions usually are not overwhelming. Delusional parasitosis however can become overwhelming, because it tends to amplify the stress level and, in turn be increased by stress.

Stress seems to be associated with numerous factors causing poor health in Americans, similar to poor diet. Stress may result from numerous experiences including job related pressure, personal relationships, divorce, loneliness, financial problems, and loss of friends, relatives, or pets. Frequently, reducing stress coincides with the rapid reduction or elimination of delusional parasitosis.

Finding ways to reduce your level of stress can often greatly be assisted by your doctor. When delusional parasitosis occurs and is persistent, there are drug treatments available that can alleviate symptoms, at least temporarily. If a physician determines that further therapy or advice is needed, the patient may be referred to a psychiatrist. Very clearly, there is no need for anyone to become a chronic prisoner of delusional parasitosis, when relief may be relatively simple to obtain.

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