Patients can seek out medical attention for a wide variety of skin conditions, which may include psoriasis, eczema, rashes, dermatitis, insect bites or any number of related problems, some of which are easier to diagnose and treat than others.
When a person reports uncontrollable sensations of bugs crawling under their skin, this can signal a variety of potential diagnoses, one of which may be formication, a symptom rather than an illness. Formication is often defined as a tactile hallucination, a sensation without an identifiable physical cause that can still feel very real to the patient. It is sometimes referred to as delusional parasitosis.
Suffering “The creepy crawlies”
Formication is the medical term for the sensation of having insects burrowing under, or crawling over, the skin. For the sufferer, it can unfortunately lead to feelings of great physical discomfort, as well as psychological distress, emotional desperation and self-mutilation. The medical history of this condition dates to the late 19th century, and is said to be derived from the Latin word, formicare, which translates as “to creep like an ant.”
Rather than a tactile hallucination, formication can also be classified as a paresthesia, a sensory symptom that may feel like burning, itching, prickling, skin crawling or diminished sensation. While the feeling of bugs crawling under or over the skin is the hallmark of formication, there are other common symptoms, including body aches, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, tremors or muscular stiffness.
One may come across reports of Morgellons Disease, a condition wherein “fibers” or “threads” appear under the skin and may be accompanied by a sensation of bugs crawling under the skin. Curiously, WebMD, NIH and other sources refer to medical controversy regarding whether Morgellons is strictly delusional, or is actually the result of infection…