Ekbom's Syndrome

Ekbom's Syndrome is also called Delusional Parasitosis or Delusory Parasitosis. This syndrome is a form of psychosis whose victims acquire a strong delusional belief that they are infested with parasites, whereas in reality no such parasites are present[1]. Very often these imaginary parasites are reported as allergic reaction to household cleaning supplies.

In approximately 12% of patients, the delusion of infestation is shared by a significant other. This phenomenon is known as folie à deux (folly of two) or folie partagé (shared folly). Variations in this are the conviction that a child, a spouse or a pet is infested.

Ekbom's Syndrome is usually treated like any other delusional disorder or schizophrenia: with atypical antipsychotic drugs like olanzapine or risperidone. The latter is, strangely, also prescribed for ADHD. However, the delusion is usually so strong that it is characteristic that sufferers will reject the diagnosis of Ekbom's Syndrome by medical professionals and very few are willing to be treated[2].

The false belief of delusional parasitosis stands in contrast to actual cases of parasitosis, such as scabies. But Ekbom's Syndrome does share some characteristics with Morgellon's Syndrome.

The name of Ekbom's syndrome derives from Swedish neurologist Karl Axel Ekbom, who published seminal accounts of the disease in as early as 1937 and 1938.

[1] Hinkle: Ekbom syndrome: the challenge of "invisible bug" infestations in Annual Review of Entomology - 2010
[2] Lombardi et al: When allergology meets psychiatry: delusional parasitosis (Ekbom's syndrome) in European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology - 2011

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