Can one get maggots under the skin?

Monday June 17 2019


By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

A doctor recently told me that I have bimonde, which are maggots in the body. How can I prevent them? Luka

Dear Luka,
Myiasis is a parasitic infestation by maggots or larvae of flies affecting the skin, eyes, nose and ears in a living person. On the skin, they cause painful itchy swellings. Although there are many types of flies that do this, the tumbu or mango fly in Uganda are commonly encountered and the attacks are said to coincide with the wet or mango season.

Though they can gain entry to the human body through open wounds among others, they can sometimes pass through intact, unbroken skin. Ugandans attribute myiasis to bedwetting. Also, mothers who are breastfeeding and have milk soaked bras are also said to attract flies that lay eggs and in response to body heat, hatch into larvae (maggots) that burrow into the skin. The flies are known to lay their eggs on clothes drying out on the line or even worn hence affecting people who carry out out-door activities.

Locally, treatment involves putting sugar on the swelling so that the maggot comes out. Using paraffin may cause the maggot to die inside leading to a serious boil requiring surgery to cure it. There is no special treatment a doctor uses but accurate diagnosis is important.
Myiasis can be prevented by eliminating breeding places of flies through proper waste disposal or the use of insecticides, including sleeping under an insecticide treated mosquito net. In addition, good personal hygiene, proper sanitation, correct hand washing and proper ironing of clothes before wearing or sleeping in them have to be adhered to.