Tropical parasitic itch in returned travellers and immigrants from endemic areas

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV




Itch is the most common skin symptom among tropical parasitic diseases (TPD), but there are limited data about its characteristics in these conditions. In dermatology practices and travellers' health clinics in the developed world, itch is a common complaint among travellers returning from endemic areas, as well among migrants arriving from endemic areas, where they may have been exposed to TPD. Studying aspects of pruritus among TPD may lead to improvements in prompt, accurate diagnosis and management of these conditions. This review examines the major itch-inducing TPDs, including schistosomiasis, echinococcosis, onchocerciasis, scabies, cutaneous larva migrans, larva currens, African trypanosomiasis, dracunculiasis and other causes of travel associated pruritus. We focus on the link between pruritus and other symptoms, aetiology, clinical staging and therapeutic options for these parasitic illnesses. Because some tropical parasitic diseases can present with significant pruritus, we attempt to identify aspects of the pruritus that are characteristic of-or unique to-specific conditions. These diagnostic insights may help clinicians create a rational and focused differential diagnosis and help determine optimal disease management pathways. In this sense, management involves treating the individual, seeking epidemiologically linked cases, preventing recurrences or relapses, and reducing spread of the disease.