Creeping eruption is a human infection with dog or cat hookworm larvae (immature worms).
Hookworm eggs are found in the stool of infected dogs and cats. When the eggs hatch, the larvae can infest soil and vegetation.
When you come into contact with this infested soil, the larvae can burrow into your skin. They cause an intense inflammatory response that leads to a rash and severe itching.
Creeping eruption is more common in countries with warm climates. In the United States, the Southeast has the highest rates of infection. The main risk factor for this disease is contact with damp, sandy soil that has been contaminated with infected cat or dog stool. More children than adults are infected.
Symptoms of creeping eruption include:
Your health care provider can often diagnose this condition by looking at your skin. In rare cases, a skin biopsy is done to rule out other conditions. In very rare cases, a blood test is done to see if you have increased eosinophils (a type of white blood cell).
Anti-parasitic medicines may be used to treat the infection.
Creeping eruption often goes away by itself over weeks to months. Treatment helps the infection go away more quickly.
Creeping eruption may lead to these complications:
Make an appointment with your provider if you or your child have skin sores that are:
Public sanitation and deworming of dogs and cats have decreased hookworm infestation in the United States.
Hookworm larvae often enter the body through bare feet, so wearing shoes in areas where hookworm infestations are known to occur helps prevent infection.
Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.