Delusional infestations: clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment

Int J Dermatol. 2013 Jul;52(7):775-83. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12067.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Delusional Parasitosis* / diagnosis
  • Delusional Parasitosis* / psychology
  • Delusional Parasitosis* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Physical Examination
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / psychology*
  • Trust


  • Antipsychotic Agents