We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Formication?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Formication is a form of tactile hallucination characterized by the sensation that insects are crawling on or under the skin. The name for this phenomenon is derived from the Latin word for "ant," and people may describe ants specifically or any number of insects. Additionally, this hallucination can involve non-insect life, such as worms. People who experience this form of hallucination can be treated, with a number of treatment options available, depending on the cause.

Several underlying medical issues can be linked with formication, including neuropathies, high fever, syphilis, skin cancer, and herpes zoster. In addition, people sometimes experience the condition as an adverse drug reaction, with various medications being linked with this phenomenon. People on cocaine, methamphetamine, and some other illegal drugs can also experience tactile hallucinations of this type. Other hallucinations can also accompany the sensation that insects are crawling all over the skin.

In some cases, formication leads to delusional parasitosis. The patient becomes convinced that he or she has been colonized by parasites, insisting on treatment even when a doctor can find no signs. Some patients even retain samples in small boxes or paper bags, bringing these in to the doctor and demanding that they be analyzed. Since the doctor can find nothing to treat, the patient may be sent home empty handed, in turn complaining about incompetent medical treatment, and the patient may make numerous medical appointments in an attempt to find a doctor who can find the parasites the patient is certain are present.

In addition to causing delusional parasitosis, formication can also lead to severe injuries as patients scratch at themselves in an attempt to combat the itching, crawling sensation. Patients have been known to cut at themselves during bouts of formication as well, with the goal of removing the insects or other organisms which the patient thinks are causing the sensation. This can lead to infection, especially in illegal drug users, who may be in unclean environments where infectious agents are present in abundance.

Addressing formication requires treatment of the cause. If, for example, it is being caused by medication, a change of medication can be used to resolve the hallucinations. Medications and medical procedures used to manage the itching and tingling associated with neuropathies can also be employed to treat the condition. It is important for patients to also receive treatment for cuts and scratches, and if a patient cannot stop scratching, cutting, or picking, restraints may need to be used to allow the patient's skin to heal.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon144397 — On Jan 19, 2011

"This can lead to infection, especially in illegal drug users, who may be in unclean environments where infectious agents are present in abundance."

Well, that's not an insensitive and cruel blanket statement. Not at all.

By anon144229 — On Jan 19, 2011

There are wonderful remedies in Homoeopathy for curing formication. The indicated remedy is selected by the Homoeopath on the basis of symptoms - subjective as well as objective-, sensations, modalities, aggravation and amelioration with their timing.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.