A mosquito, fly, ant or a flying cockroach touching our skin is disgusting and displeasing. How about an army of insects crawling across or underneath your skin? It’s totally repulsive and we try to immediately get rid of it. Pity that some people can never get rid of insects crawling all over their body as its only their hallucination and there is no physical cause. They are not dreaming nor is it a sci-fiction movie but experiencing formication.
Formication is the feeling of insects crawling across or under the skin. The name is derived from the Latin word ‘formica’ which means ant. This is a specific type of a group of sensations called paresthesia. Paresthesia is a pricking or burning sensation that occurs in any part of the body, more common in your hands, feet, arms or legs, in the form of skin crawling, itching, tingling feeling or numbness. Quite often we experience paresthesia in our daily life but don’t realize it. For instance, sitting cross-legged for a long time or sleeping with your arms under your head triggers a ‘pin and needle’ feeling. This is due to sustained pressure on a nerve which vanishes once the pressure reduces.
There are several reasons attributed to formication and the important ones include:
The core symptom is a crawling bug sensation on or underneath your skin which can lead to itching and scratching in the skin area although there is no underlying bug or insect that justifies this action. Such continuous scratching can lead to skin damage and open cuts that can in turn lead to skin ulcers or open wounds. Other common symptoms include aches all around your body, exhaustion, feeling depressed, angry or anxious, hand tremors or inability to focus. Hand tremors, dealt in detail at www.firsteatright.com can also be an indication of Parkinson’s disease.
Be truthful to your physician and answer all question with an open mind. Some common questions include enquiring about the time of day when the crawling sensation occurs, reactions that happened when the sensations started initially, medications currently taken, use of recreational drugs, alcohol practice or presence of any other symptoms along with formication. All these help the physician rule out any other doubtful condition such as scabies (infection of tiny mites that dig into the skin and cause constant and painful itching) or similar others.
Treatment always depends on the root cause of the disease. It is appreciable to place ice packs on the itching area as a first aid to provide soothing effect instantly. A topical cream can decrease itching in some while moisturizers can help to keep the skin healthy. When Parkinson’s disease, shingles or fibromyalgia is the cause of formication, the physician prescribes the related medications. When medication is the cause, the doctor suggests antihistamines to reduce itching. When formication is the result of alcohol/drug withdrawal process, the sensation diminishes as the person recovers from the withdrawal effects. To enable any of these treatments the first step is to be truthful and disclose the problem to your doctor in a proper way.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.