“Horsehair worms are in my hair destroying it,” starts this reader in her submission to us. She shares her story regarding the creatures that have been in her hair and stomach, and states that she “can’t deal much longer.”
To begin with, we want to note that we will not be able to confirm or deny our reader’s identification of these worms. Our reader makes clear that these worms are negatively affecting her health, and as we are not medical professionals, we are not qualified to diagnose medical conditions: identifying the worms would inadvertently serve this function. What we will do is share some resources our reader can use to find a medical professional who will be able to diagnose and treat this issue, as well as share our reader’s story with our other readers, in the case that someone else might identify with her and realize that they too might have use for these resources.
So, what we can recommend is that our reader consult a medical parasitologist. As opposed to a primary care doctor or ER doctor, a medical parasitologist is specifically trained to identify and treat infections caused by organisms. Our reader can do one or more of the following to find one:
1) Search for a medical parasitologist in her area using this directory of medical parasitology consultants: https://www.astmh.org/for-astmh-members/clinical-consultants-directory.
2) Search for a local parasitologist by doing a Google search for “medical parasitologist (name of the closest big city)” or “tropical medicine specialist (name of the closest big city)”.
3) Get in touch with Dr. Omar Amin at the Parasitology Center at https://www.parasitetesting.com.
Now, our reader wrote to us because she was “trying to respond to people that have the same problem as me: I have the same thing.” She got the worms “about” six weeks prior to messaging us, and already half of her hair is gone.
She calls the worms horsehair worms and Gordian worms, though she distinguishes between the two. We want to make clear that both names actually refer to the same organism. For context, horsehair/Gordian worms are indeed parasites, but they only purposefully infect insects, not humans. Likewise, they do not attach themselves to people’s hair, or come from people’s hair. This is a myth that has come from the alleged origin of the term ‘horsehair worm’: as the name suggests, people used to think that the worms came from horse’s hair.
Despite this, our reader states that these are “for sure” horsehair worms. In any case, we think our reader should consult a physician to get a professional’s opinion on the matter. Diagnosing oneself can be potentially harmful. We suggest that she bring up her identification with whatever physician she ends up consulting, and that, despite her surety, she remains open to other possibilities that her physician may bring up.
Our reader is sure of this identification “because when I pull on my hair and they come off, they wiggle” and “lift their heads up.” She adds that she “got some great pics”, which we also urge her to share with her physician. We should note that these are not pictures that we were made privy to, otherwise we would have shared them. “Last week we found 4 worms working their way out of mantids in my kitchen! Quite a site, and yes we got video.” Again, we suggest that she show her medical professional this video.
“Not sure where they came from,” she adds. She has lived in her home for 20 years, which she stresses is a very clean home. Her wife is a nurse who just started a new job as an in-home carer, and she suspects the worms came from there. “I have to wrap it up all day and night or they drive me crazy, and sometimes I feel something up my shirt pulling on it. I also now have them in my stomach and cannot get any help. Not even Orcan will come and exterminate.”
She adds that her entire home is now infested, and urges others to check their electronics “because they love to go inside of them, then come out at night.” So far, she has used “Bifen and DE” to try to get rid of the worms, but neither has worked. She washes her hair with baby shampoo and vinegar, which “keeps them at bay for a couple of hours” before she has to do it all over again.
“No way to live like this. I am losing my job and I am not a crazy person. High end job, great neighborhood, no kids at home. Just horrible to not be able to get someone to look at the evidence and help us get rid of it!”
We sympathize with our reader, and we understand that dealing with something like this is never easy. We want to assure her that many of our other readers have expressed similar feelings of being judged and labeled “crazy”, and they would be able to relate to her on that. Again, we want to stress that if she consults a medical parasitologist, she will not be judged in that way: she will be taken seriously.
In conclusion, we hope that our reader is able to get the help she needs soon, and that the resources listed above help her with that. We wish we could help more directly, but given our lack of medical training, that is not something we are qualified to do. We wish her the very best!
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