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Delusions of Parasitosis Follow-up

  • Author: Noah S Scheinfeld, JD, MD, FAAD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
 
Updated: Jan 20, 2016
 

Further Outpatient Care

After medication has cleared the delusions of parasitosis, the agent should be continued for several months and then discontinued. Often, patients come to think that the medication has killed the bugs, and many (but not all) have a remission of their delusions.

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Complications

If delusions of parasitosis are not treated, scarring can result. The patient's entire life and family may be disrupted by their distress and attempts at treatment.

Therapy for delusions of parasitosis can cause adverse effects. Pimozide can result in tardive dyskinesia and akathisia. Extrapyramidal reactions have been reported to occur in approximately 10-15% of patients taking pimozide. Pimozide can have cardiotoxic effects at high doses. It may cause ECG changes such as prolongation of the QT interval, T-wave changes, and the appearance of U waves.

Lim et al[53] noted an incidence of camphor-related, self-inflicted keratoconjunctivitis secondary to delusions of parasitosis.

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Prognosis

Many patients with delusions of parasitosis refuse treatment and are lost to follow-up. For those patients who can be convinced to undertake treatment, the prognosis for a remission of the delusions is good.

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Patient Education

Patients must be reassured that they are not alone and that the physician will listen to them and sincerely desires to help them to get better. While one should not say anything to confirm the delusion, it is usually not helpful to forcefully confront patients with delusions of parasitosis.

Statements such as the following might be helpful: "I know you feel strongly that there are parasites here, and I'm sure that you itch severely, but I cannot prove that parasites are or have been the cause of your problem."

For patient education resources, see the Mental Health and Behavior Center.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Noah S Scheinfeld, JD, MD, FAAD Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, Weil Cornell Medical College; Consulting Staff, Department of Dermatology, St Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary; Assistant Attending Dermatologist, New York Presbyterian Hospital; Assistant Attending Dermatologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, North Shore-LIJ Health System; Private Practice

Noah S Scheinfeld, JD, MD, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Abbvie<br/>Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: Optigenex<br/>Received salary from Optigenex for employment.

Specialty Editor Board

David F Butler, MD Section Chief of Dermatology, Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System; Professor of Dermatology, Texas A&M University College of Medicine; Founding Chair, Department of Dermatology, Scott and White Clinic

David F Butler, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, Alpha Omega Alpha, Association of Military Dermatologists, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for MOHS Surgery, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jeffrey Meffert, MD Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio

Jeffrey Meffert, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Franklin Flowers, MD Department of Dermatology, Professor Emeritus Affiliate Associate Professor of Pathology, University of Florida College of Medicine

Franklin Flowers, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Mohs Surgery

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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