Cutaneous Larva Migrans: Understanding, Prevention, and Treatment


Cutaneous Larva Migrans (CLM), often referred to as “creeping eruption,” is a parasitic skin infection caused by the larvae of certain hookworm species. While typically found in tropical and subtropical regions, CLM can occur worldwide, particularly in areas with poor sanitation or high rates of animal fecal contamination. This article aims to provide insights into the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of CLM.

Understanding Cutaneous Larva Migrans:

CLM is caused by the larvae of animal hookworms, most commonly the dog and cat hookworm species. These parasites thrive in warm, sandy, and moist environments where suitable hosts, such as dogs and cats, are present. Human infection occurs when the larvae penetrate the skin, usually through direct contact with contaminated soil or sand.

Once inside the skin, the larvae begin to migrate, causing characteristic serpiginous (snake-like) tracks or tunnels beneath the skin’s surface. These tracks, which can measure several centimeters in length, are accompanied by intense itching and inflammation, leading to the hallmark symptom of CLM.

Symptoms and Diagnosis:

The primary symptom of CLM is severe itching, which typically worsens at night and may be accompanied by a visible rash consisting of red, raised tracks on the skin. The tracks may appear irregular and may change direction as the larvae continue to migrate beneath the skin.

Diagnosing CLM is usually based on clinical presentation and history of exposure to contaminated soil or sand. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be performed to confirm the presence of hookworm larvae.

Prevention Strategies:

Preventing CLM primarily involves minimizing exposure to contaminated soil or sand. This can be achieved by:

  1. Avoiding Bare Skin Contact: Wear protective footwear, such as shoes or sandals, when walking or playing in sandy or soil-rich environments.
  2. Using Protective Coverings: Use towels or blankets to cover and sit on when engaging in outdoor activities, such as picnics or beach outings.
  3. Maintaining Hygiene: Thoroughly wash hands and exposed skin after contact with soil or sand, especially before eating or handling food.

Treatment Options:

Treatment for CLM typically involves topical or oral medications aimed at killing the larvae and alleviating symptoms. Commonly prescribed medications include:

  1. Topical Anthelmintics: Prescription-strength creams or lotions containing medications such as thiabendazole or ivermectin can effectively kill the larvae and relieve itching.
  2. Oral Anthelmintics: In severe or widespread cases, oral medications such as albendazole or ivermectin may be prescribed to eradicate the parasites.

In addition to medication, symptomatic relief can be achieved with antihistamines to alleviate itching and inflammation. Most cases of CLM resolve within weeks with appropriate treatment, although recurrence is possible upon re-exposure to contaminated environments.


Cutaneous Larva Migrans presents a significant health concern, particularly in regions where hookworm infestations are prevalent. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and prevention strategies is crucial for minimizing the risk of infection and ensuring prompt diagnosis and treatment when necessary. By adopting appropriate preventive measures and seeking timely medical attention, individuals can effectively navigate the challenges posed by CLM and enjoy outdoor activities with reduced risk of parasitic skin infections.


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