Delusional infestations: clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment



Dr Jenny E. Murase, md

Department of Dermatology

Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group

701 East El Camino Real (31-104)

Mountain View

CA 94040




Patients with delusional infestations (DI), previously named delusions of parasitosis, have a fixed, false belief that they are infested with living or non-living pathogens. Patients have abnormal cutaneous symptoms such as itching, biting, or crawling sensations. They often demonstrate self-destructive behavior in an effort to rid the pathogens from under their skin, leading to excoriations, ulcerations, and serious secondary infections. This review article aims to provide an overview of DI including its clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment. Strategies on how to establish a strong therapeutic alliance with DI patients are discussed. In addition, antipsychotic medications used in the treatment of DI are described.