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creeping eruption

Alternative Names 
cutaneous larvae migrans

Creeping eruption is a hookworm infection of the skin. The skin is invaded by the larvae of the dog or cat hookworm. This causes a thread-like line of inflammation that moves in a "creeping" form over time.

What is going on in the body? 
Creeping eruption occurs when human skin comes into contact with soil contaminated with cat or dog faeces that are infected with hookworm. The eggs of the hookworm are passed in the faeces, and hatch into larvae. The larvae penetrate human skin and begin to wander through the layer below the skin.

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition? 
The symptoms of creeping eruption include a small blister at the point of penetration. It is usually on an exposed area that has come in contact with the ground, such as the feet, legs, or buttocks. As the parasite migrates, a thread-like red, slightly raised, red line appears on the skin. The rash itches intensely.

What are the causes and risks of the condition? 
Creeping eruption usually affects a person who plays or works in shaded, moist, sandy areas that have been contaminated with animal faeces. Children and farmers are at greatest risk. It is more common in warm, humid areas, including the southeastern United States.

What can be done to prevent the condition? 
Prevention requires awareness of the hookworm parasite, keeping beaches and sandboxes clean, and proper disposal of cat and dog faeces.

How is the condition diagnosed? 
The characteristic lesions strongly suggest creeping eruption. The person has usually had contact with warm, moist soil within the past few months.

What are the long-term effects of the condition? 
There are no long-term effects from creeping eruption.

What are the risks to others? 
There are no risks to others, as creeping eruption is not contagious from person to person.

What are the treatments for the condition? 
The treatment of creeping eruption includes thiabendazole. This medication can be taken by mouth, or applied topically to the rash. Cool, moist cloths applied to the rash can help relieve itching.

What are the side effects of the treatments? 
Side effects of thiabendazole include nausea, vomiting, abdominal distress, and dizziness.

What happens after treatment for the condition? 
Creeping eruption usually clears up in 1 to 2 weeks. The rash should clear completely with treatment.

How is the condition monitored? 
The doctor should be contacted if the rash does not clear up completely, or if it returns.

Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 3/02/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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