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What is Myiasis?

Myiasis is a skin infection caused by a fly larva, usually occurring in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Infection can occur when flies deposit their eggs on or near open skin, and the larvae that hatch burrow into the skin. Some flies attach their eggs to mosquitoes, other flies or ticks and wait for those insects to bite (and therefore inoculate) people. These are known as bot flies and are typically found in South and Central America. Another type of fly known as the tumbu fly (usually found in Africa) lays its eggs on the ground or on damp cloth such as clothing or bed linens that are line-dried outside. You can then get infected by contact with the ground or clothes that have fly larvae attached to them.

What is Tungiasis?

This occurs when the sand flea (jigger or chigoe) enters the skin and hatches eggs. It is found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including Mexico to South America, the West Indies and Africa.


A lump will develop in tissue as the larva grows. Larvae under the skin may move on occasion and a burning sensation is commonly reported. Usually larvae will remain under the skin and not travel throughout the body.


The flea burrows into the skin and produces eggs. A lesion which looks like a blister will typically form. Most lesions occur on the feet.

Cover your skin when in tropical destinations to limit the area open to bites from flies, mosquitoes, and ticks. Avoid walking barefoot in areas where myiasis/tungiasis is known to occur. In tropical areas, iron any clothes that were put on a line to dry.

A specialist nurse will perform the procedure. The process will be discussed with you and you will have the opportunity to ask any questions and decide whether you are happy to proceed.

Myasis: A clear lubricant will be applied to the site to occlude the airhole for around 30 minutes. This will deprive the larvae of oxygen and enable us to extract it. Intense digital pressure must be applied to the area to facilitate removal. This may superficially bruise the skin. The affected area will be left to heal on its own. It is important to note that if the larvae is very small it will be difficult to remove and you may be asked to come back to allow it time to grow.

Tungiasis: A topical anaesthetic cream will be applied to the site of the sand flea, along with a clear dressing. The cream may help to alleviate discomfort. Small incisions will be made around the edge of the lesion to enable us to lift it out. We will then remove the jigger flea and egg sack and cleanse the area thoroughly.

The site will be cleaned and a dressing applied. You should keep the area clean and dry. It should heal as the source of the infection has been removed. If you are concerned about infection or that the site is not healing, you can contact your GP for advice.

The Hospital for Tropical Diseases

2nd Floor, Mortimer Market Centre

Capper Street



020 3447 5968

Switchboard: 020 3456 7890


Have you travelled to a tropical country in the last 6-12 months and are you acutely unwell? You can be seen in our emergency walk-in clinic Monday to Friday 9am-4pm

Our travel medicine service offers specialist travel advice including for individuals with complex health conditions. We offer this on a privately and via NHS referral basis.

Please contact: or 020 3447 7999 for more information about our services.

If you need a large print, audio, braille, easy read or translated copy of this document, please contact us on 020 3456 7891 We will try our best to meet your needs.

Page last updated: 29 May 2024

Review due: 31 October 2025