Cutanea larva migrans is skin condition caused by infection with a parasitic worm.
In the united states the most common organism causing this disease goes by the name of Ancylostoma braziliense – a species of hookworm.
In order to reproduce this organism must infect a host by piercing the skin in its larval form. The adult form usually resides within the intestines of dogs and cats; humans are not the natural host of this parasite and as a result the worm does not reproduce or cause symptoms beyond an unpleasant rash. This is known as an “accidental host”.
Infection occurs when bare skin comes into contact with the larval worms which usually reside in sand or sandy soil that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected cat or dog. Soon afterwards a red scaly rash appears wherever the organism is or has been.
This rash is typically incredibly itchy and sometimes even painful with the appearance of blisters. This condition is not dangerous, but excessive itching can break the skin and lead to secondary infection with bacteria.
This kind of condition is known as a “creeping rash” as the lesion follows the trail of the worm through the skin which can move up to a little less than an inch per day. It is worth noting that the rash is not caused directly by the parasite itself but by our body’s reaction to it via the immune system.
However, such a robust immune response is actually a good thing as most cases of cutanea larva migrans will eventually resolve spontaneously.
However, this disease can take months to resolve on its own so most infected individuals seek medical attention before the infection disappears. Fortunately, treatment is very effective and will cure the rash within a week.
Ivermectin, the drug of choice used to treat this disease, paralyses the worms which leads to their death.
If you or your child suffer from the symptoms of cutanea larva migrans make an appointment with your dermatologist for evaluation and treatment.