An infestation of “worms or larvae” have been troubling this reader for two years, taking over her home and her own body. These larvae have been found everywhere, from the fabrics in her home, to her refrigerator, to her dog’s hair and her own!
The pictures provided by our reader are close ups of what we assume to be our reader’s hair. It is hard to make out any worms or larvae, but in some of the photos, one can make out some beige-colored specks, which we assume is the creature in question. Our reader states that she has almost lost all of her hair at this point, and she does not know if the worm is “eating” the hair itself “or sucking nutrients” from it. As previously mentioned, the worms have also been found in her dog’s fur, but she does not specify if the dog has also experienced more hair loss than what is common for a dog.
The dilemma here is that while this worm is infesting our reader’s fabrics, her “leather carpet” and her refrigerator (for all of which we could name a few larvae that would be commonly found in these locations), it is unclear if these are the same larvae which are in our reader’s hair and her dog’s fur. If they are not the same, then we would be able to discuss the worms infesting her home, but it would not be our place to identify the one’s infesting her hair. This is because, as the larvae are giving our reader symptoms, this situation is medical in nature and we can thus not provide an identification of the worms. Doing so would be tantamount to providing a diagnosis, which we are not qualified to do seeing as we are not medical professionals. What we can do is give our reader some advice as to where she can go to get a professional opinion on these larvae.
Firstly, if we are to assume that the larvae infesting our reader’s home are not the ones infesting her hair, we would say that these are clothes moth larvae. We would specifically identify them as webbing clothes moth larvae, seeing as the other common type (the casemaking clothes moth larva) leaves silken, tubular cases behind, which our reader did not mention seeing. Webbing clothes moth larvae can be white, beige or pinkish in color, with slightly transparent skin. They have orange heads and are very small. Despite this, they can wreak significant damage on the animal-based materials in one’s home and should be handled with urgency. Getting rid of them entails a mix of vacuuming up the source of the infestation (the area where the larvae are most concentrated), laundering all animal-based materials, and applying preventative measures to stop more larvae from infesting one’s home (including sealing cracks in the home through which creatures could crawl and inventorying unused garments). More information specifically on the control of webbing clothes moth larvae can be read in our previous articles on the subject.
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Secondly, with regard to the worms infesting our reader’s hair, we always recommend seeing a parasite specialist over seeing one’s doctor/GP. This is because the majority of doctor’s do not receive training in the field of parasites and would thus likewise not be qualified to help anyone infested with one. Further to this, going to the ER is likewise not necessarily going to ensure immediate treatment. ER doctors also have a limited and focused scope of knowledge, and are there to treat life-threatening conditions (which they typically do very well), but they are not trained to identify or treat parasitic infections. On the other hand, an infectious disease specialist is trained to identify whether a given medical issue is the result of a parasite, fungus, bacteria or virus. They are going to be an expert in this field and should be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. To find one, our reader can simply search for ‘infectious disease physician (name of her closest big city)’ or ‘travel disease doctor (name of her closest big city)’.
Finally, taking samples of the larvae to one’s local county extension office or to the entomology department at a nearby university might also be a good idea so that one can gather as many opinions on the identity of the larvae as possible. Doing this prior to a visit with a specialist might also help the specialist narrow down the suspects and reach a conclusion on the identity of the larva faster. Plus, if our reader brought samples of the worms from her home, as well as the ones from her hair, it may determine if the worms are one and the same, or not.
In conclusion, provided the assumption that the worms infesting her home are not the same worms in her hair, the worms infesting our reader’s home are webbing clothes moth larvae. That said, we are not able to identify the larvae that are infesting this woman’s hair and dog. Given our lack of medical expertise, it would be a disservice to our reader if we even began to try to identify the critter, as any information given without qualification can be dangerous to those who use it. Regardless, we hope that our reader does seek medical help and that this issue is resolved quickly. Best of luck to her!