Ekbom Syndrome



The medical term for an imaginary infestation of head lice (or any other type of parasite) is Ekbom Syndrome, also known as Delusional Parasitosis.
Ekbom patients experience the sensation of crawling, biting, and/or stinging parasites on or under the skin, a condition known as Formication.
This actual physical sensation confirms the imaginary infestation.


"But I really feel them!"

Many people who have had head lice, or who are currently dealing with an infestation, may experience itching and prefer to have a professional check to see if there are still lice present. 
Even after an infestation has been effectively eliminated, some people may continue to feel the typical itch. 
This can have various causes, such as the psychosomatic kind of itch (which nearly everyone experiences when they think about head lice), or types of itching with a physical cause, such as itching from lice bites (which can last for up to two weeks after the lice are gone), itching caused by scalp irritation due to frequent scratching, combing, and the use of lice shampoos, or a combination of these factors. 
In these cases we recommend the 'Scalp Tonic' enriched with ingredients like menthol can help alleviate the physical type of itching.

For most people, psychosomatic itching eventually stops automatically once they have been successfully treated and know they no longer have itching caused by crawling creatures.
However, people suffering from Ekbom Syndrome are often difficult or nearly impossible to convince that they do not have head lice (or other parasites). 
For them, a check is not about determining whether they have head lice, but rather seeking confirmation of their belief. 
Factual arguments and evidence demonstrating that there is no head lice infestation are usually insufficient to convince Ekbom patients and are often dismissed in irrational and sometimes even hostile ways. 
The fact that no one can find the imaginary creatures or believe the person in question, leads to frustration, loneliness, and despair.

We frequently encounter clients in our Lice Clinics who are found to be suffering from Ekbom Syndrome. 
A check at the Lice Clinic can be disappointing for these people. 
Their hope that we can find, identify, and treat them is dashed when we have to tell them that there are no head lice.


Collecting Specimen 

Many Ekbom patients collect various materials, such as dust, dirt, scabs, sand grains, lint, common insects found in our environment, and other specimen that they mistake for parasites, to present as evidence of their imaginary infestation. 
Because these people constantly comb their hair with a nit comb and frequently treat themselves with lice shampoos, their scalp gets damaged, resulting in flakes, broken hair roots, and scabs. 
Because they meticulously comb through their hair daily, it becomes even more noticeable how much material gets caught in the hair or is produced by the (troubled) skin. 
By them, all this material is regarded as nits and/or lice.
In combination with the itching, this confirms their belief in a head lice infestation. 
It's challenging for many people to distinguish these small specks from actual head lice or nits, especially when fear is predominant.



Specimen collections of Ekbom Syndrome patients


Would you like to know if you might have imaginary head lice?
A good starting point is our Diagnosis page and the links to information about Ekbom Syndrome below.

Weblinks Ekbom Syndrome

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