You’ve probably dealt with an ingrown hair before—you know, when a strand of body hair grows back into your skin after shaving. Well, what if what you thought was an ingrown hair was actually a larva that burrowed its way under your skin? That’s what happened to a woman in Florida who had a lesion on her leg for months before doctors figured out the cause.
After returning from her honeymoon in Belize, the 36-year-old noticed a small wound on her groin, according to a report published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports. She went to the doctor two months later and said she might have been bitten by a bug, but she wasn’t sure.
“While she was in Belize, she went horseback riding after which she found a tick on her back,” the report says. “She removed the tick immediately and states that it was present on her for no more than an hour.”
Her doctor prescribed antibiotics, but the wound didn’t fully heal.
The woman then went to see specialists at Tampa General Hospital, where she told doctors the lesion on her groin leaked clear fluid when squeezed. She said she tried to remove what she thought was a hair causing the inflammation but couldn’t. Doctors then referred her to a dermatologist, but she wasn’t satisfied.
So she went to Memorial Hospital of Tampa for a second opinion, and only then did doctors find a “small, hard mass” under the skin and perform surgery to remove it.
“The foreign object was subsequently sent to pathology for identification and analysis,” the report states. “Pathology identified the object as a human botfly larva. With the larva removed, the lesion completely resolved by the patient’s follow-up visit at the wound care facility a week later.”
The human botfly is native to the tropical regions of the Americas, and it turns out, it’s “quite common” for the larvae to burrow under the skin. We must say, the way locals have learned to get them out is seriously innovative, but we’re not sure we could stomach it:
“Local residents in Belize suffocate the larvae by applying occlusive substances, for example, placing petroleum jelly, bacon strips, nail polish, or plant extracts over the central punctum,” the report states. “Several hours after occlusion the larvae will emerge head-first seeking air, at which time, tweezers may be used to physically extract it or apply pressure around the cavity aiding in the larvae expulsion.”
The distinct appearance of larvae wounds makes them easily recognizable for locals, but as we saw in this case, they can be perplexing for doctors who are not familiar with their appearance.
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