Ekbom syndrome: the challenge of "invisible bug" infestations

Annu Rev Entomol. 2010:55:77-94. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.54.110807.090514.


Ekbom Syndrome is synonymous with delusory parasitosis, a belief that one's body is infested by invisible bugs. Persons suffering from this syndrome often claim to feel dermal sensations and to visualize the bugs, although no one else can see them. Ekbom Syndrome is a delusional condition; it is intractable and cannot be corrected by argument or evidence. Ekbom Syndrome sufferers exhibit a range of predictable behaviors in their attempts to eliminate their infestations, including seeking identifications and treatment from physicians and entomologists. Frequently they also experience comorbid psychological conditions. Because this is a delusional affliction, successful treatment typically requires neuroleptic medications, necessitating intervention by medical professionals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Delusions / diagnosis*
  • Delusions / etiology
  • Delusions / therapy
  • Ectoparasitic Infestations / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Pest Control
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Self-Injurious Behavior