Delusory parasitosis, also called Ekbom’s syndrome, is a condition where someone feels like something, such as insects or mites, are infesting their body. Often people feel that their home is infested with something invisible and they are getting bitten by the mysterious invisible insect.
Have you ever had a call where a customer has “invisible bugs?” You’re not alone. Lots of pest management technicians get these from time to time. What is the best way to handle it though? Well, that is sometimes up for debate. Here are a few strategies that you might find useful.
- Be kind. This person is suffering. They may not be sure what exactly is causing the distress, but it is real pain and real hurting, either mental, physical, or both.
- Be thorough. Check for an actual infestation. Don’t assume nothing is there just because you don’t immediately see signs or simply expect that it is a case of delusory parasitosis. Put out some sticky traps or other monitoring devices and do a thorough inspection.
- Be honest. If you don’t find any infestation despite a thorough inspection, tell the customer the results. Don’t treat where you don’t see anything that needs treating just to make the customer feel better. It may have the opposite effect and make them feel like you have confirmed there is something infesting them or their home. Especially if they feel temporary short-term relief due to the placebo effect.
- Be informative. Depending on how open they are, you may want to suggest some articles the customer or a family member can read about the condition of delusory parasitosis. Dr. Nancy Hinkle has written a useful and informative article on the subject.
- Be helpful. Refer them to a doctor. See further details on this below.
Referrals to Medical Professionals
If you have determined there is no infestation, there is really nothing for you to treat. The only thing you can do is to refer them to someone who may be able to help.
It could be a physical reaction to medication, allergy, psychological reaction to recent traumatic events, or something else. A primary care medical professional should be their first step. When you give the referral, make sure they know to tell the doctor that a professional has thoroughly inspected their home and could not find any infestation to treat.
You can also offer to have the doctor call you to discuss the inspection. Often individuals with this affliction are passed back and forth between doctors and entomologists due to lack of communication between the two professional groups. Doctors might not be as acutely aware of this syndrome as entomologists or professional pest control technicians, due to the variety of other mental and physical issues they deal with daily.
Having a professional pest control technician or entomologist confirm an infestation is not occurring can be extremely helpful to help the doctor eliminate pest infestation as a possibility and narrow down the possibilities for the root cause of the person’s issues.
Learn More: Read a delusory parasitosis case study from PCT Magazine.