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Living with the Itch: The Heartbreaking Story of Sarah's Battle with a Mysterious Parasite


Sarah suffering from Delusional Parasitosis
Photo by Author using Wonder Digital Art

Sarah's body felt overcome with dread as the sun inched its way up over Millville. For days, she'd been plagued by a relentless itch that no amount of scratching could shake. The sensation made her feel like she harbored parasites, causing her to grow more distraught and paranoid. Her mind was a jumbled mess, unable to concentrate on anything else.

Her obsession with finding evidence of an infestation had consumed her. Sarah, a self-proclaimed hypochondriac, couldn't shake the feeling of something crawling under her skin. She would spend hours scouring through anything that made contact with her, including bed sheets, clothes, and skin, looking for any signs of parasites. In the collection, she kept hair, skin, and debris in matchboxes to show her doctor.

Sarah couldn't shake the feeling that she was plagued by some sort of critter, much to her family's disagreement. Most of her time was spent poring medical literature and online message boards, searching for a diagnosis that matched her experiences.

Sarah's mental health deteriorated as her obsession with the infestation grew. In an attempt to infect others with her parasites, she avoided social situations and gradually became more withdrawn and isolated.

After weeks of struggle, Sarah's family finally convinced her to get help from a mental health professional. Upon her visit, she received a diagnosis of a condition called delusional parasitosis. This condition causes individuals to believe they have been infested with parasites, even when that is not the case.

Living with the Itch: One Woman's Battle with an Unseen Enemy

Infested with various organisms such as mites, lice, worms, and insects, delusional parasitosis is categorized as a type of somatoform delusional disorder.

Despite lacking evidence, the microorganisms' entry and movement throughout the body often dominate patients' descriptions. Patients further bring proof of infestation through hair, skin, and debris like dried scabs, dust, and lint saved in containers or slides (the matchbox sign). Even though it's rare, it can considerably affect patients' well-being and mental health.

Establishing a supportive and empathetic connection with patients is crucial for successful treatment, which may involve psychological support and antipsychotic medication. Convincing patients to seek treatment can present challenges, but it is a necessary step toward recovery.

Sarah's therapist and medication were vital in helping her conquer her delusions with itch. It took considerable time and effort, but she finally regained command over her life. After battling the infestation that had dominated her thoughts, she could move forward. But despite the possibility of lower chances of a relapse with the help of her loved ones, the threat of it still lurks around Sarah's existence.

Note: The events depicted in this story are based on reality. To protect the privacy of those involved, the names and identities of the characters have been altered.

Citation

  1. Delusional Parasitosis - MN Dept. of Health. “Delusional Parasitosis - MN Dept. of Health,” n.d. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/pests/dp.html.

  2. DINULOS.JAMES. “Delusional Parasitosis - Dermatologic Disorders - MSD Manual Professional Edition.” MSD Manual Professional Edition, n.d. https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/parasitic-skin-infections/delusional-parasitosis.

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