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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/should i go to the emergency room


ok. my cat came in covered in these things. they crawl and i think jump. they are hard to see, but i wear glasses and when i look thru them to my hair i see these "bugs". theres really nothing to them. they seem to be an outline of a face, i cant really see any body but what i do see is an outline of white for the eyes, the nose, and the whiskers. they also grow quickly. they were teeny, then grew to about a half an inch. i straightened my hair a couple of days ago and got rid of some, but theyve started to hide in my ears and maybe other places. now i have another round of the baby ones again. its an outline of white for the eyes, snout, and whiskers.

Dear Judith:

Promise me that you will read my entire answer before thinking that I am dismissing your questions and concerns.  You must understand I am sympathetic to your plight.  That said, here goes....

This is a classic case of a malady that goes by the unfortunate name of "delusory parasitosis," whereby a person PERCEIVES that insects or mites are biting them, crawling under their skin, infesting their hair, or otherwise causing sensations and symptoms when no such organisms are present.

The diagnosis should NOT be interpreted as mental illness, that the person is "crazy," or otherwise has compromised mental faculties.  The sensations are real and should be interpreted as a physical manifestation of some physical nervous system disorder.

As luck would have it, I received in my in-box two links that pertain to this discussion:

I wish I had even more expertise in this matter because questions like yours cross my desk with some degree of frequency.  I am embarrassed that so many entomologists and dermatologists either ignore such requests or try to pacify them in a condescending manner.

This is all I can offer at this time.  My sincerest best wishes for a good outcome to this.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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