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What is cutaneous larva migrans?

Medical reviewer:
Dr Ann Nainan
Dr Ann Nainan
Dr Adiele Hoffman
Dr Adiele Hoffman
Last reviewed: 21/05/2021
Medically reviewed

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In this article

What is cutaneous larva migrans?

Cutaneous larva migrans (CLM) is a skin infection that's usually caused by the larvae (eggs) of a hookworm that normally infects cats, dogs and other animals. You can pick up this worm by walking barefoot on a beach or touching soil that's been contaminated with animal poo.

Cutaneous larva migrans is more common in warmer parts of the world, like Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean.

What are the symptoms of cutaneous larva migrans?

If you have cutaneous larva migrans, the most common symptom you may notice is a red rash – typically on your legs or feet. This rash often looks like red ‘snake-like’ lines or tracks on your skin, and it’s usually very itchy.

These lines can grow by a few millimetres to centimetres each day. And you may have just 1 line or a few.

Your skin may also feel like it's tingling or prickling around the infected area.

In some rare cases, if you’ve been infected with a lot of larvae, some can find their way to your lungs and cause a cough.

How is cutaneous larva migrans treated?

In most cases, cutaneous larva migrans gets better on its own because the worm larvae that causes it eventually die. But, this can take around 4 to 8 weeks.

You can speed up your recovery by taking medication to kill the worm. If you do so, your rash should usually get better within 1 week.

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