Delusional parasitosis is a delusional disorder in which individuals believe their body is infested with parasites, such as mites, lice, bed bugs, or other organisms, when no such infestation exists. Individuals suffering with delusional parasitosis usually report tactile hallucinations – the feeling or sensation that insects are crawling on or under the skin.
This disorder can often originate from a previous parasite infestation. Before medical professionals become involved, these cases are frequently discovered by pest management professionals who conduct multiple inspections of an individual’s residence during which nothing is found.
The next stage is referred to as the “matchbox sign.” This is when the individual presents the pest management professional with a container, such as a matchbox, said to be holding the parasites. In reality, the container is filled with small particles, such as dust, skin flakes, scabs, lint or dirt.
Delusional parasitosis can be a serious condition. Individuals suffering with this disorder have been known to self-mutilate, scratching themselves to the point of bleeding. When we suspect an individual may have this disorder, we refer them to a medical professional for help.