What to do

If you are consulted by a person with delusional parasitosis you should take the time to talk to them for two reasons.

Firstly, it is possible to have assessed the situation incorrectly at first glance and then during the conversation information can emerge, suggesting that real animals might be involved. If there is any doubt whatsoever about whether the animals could exist, it may be worthwhile to consult an interested zoologist.

Secondly, easier cases may happen where the person feels comforted by having been taken seriously and by reassurance that there is no cause for anxiety.

Control. Do not confirm the sick in the delusions by – against better judgment – suggesting treatments that kill “the animals”. This kind of control will put the consultant in a weak position afterwards. The GP of the person with delusional parasitosis is the key person. The physician may choose to treat the patient or refer to a specialist in skin diseases. In recent years, delusional parasitosis has been successfully treated with antipsychotic medication.