Skin inflammatory (nontumor)
Tunga penetrans

Author: Mowafak Hamodat, M.D., MB.CH.B, MSc., FRCPC (see Authors page)

Revised: 19 October 2018, last major update July 2011

Copyright: (c) 2002-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Tunga penetrans

Cite this page: Hamodat, M. Tunga penetrans. website. Accessed October 22nd, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Sand flea that burrows into human skin and skin of mammals, causing the disease tungiasis
  • Parasite is common in tropical locations (South America, Caribbean, Africa, Pakistan, west coast of India)
  • Single flea bite causes local discomfort
  • Multiple bites cause debilitation and secondary infections (tetanus, gas gangrene)
Clinical features
  • Nodular lesion
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:

Adult female, 5 mm, surgically removed

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Skin biopsies show exoskeleton, hypodermal layer, trachea, digestive tract and developing eggs
  • Striated muscle in 47%, posterior end in 43%
  • Head usually absent
  • The dermis contains mixed inflammatory cell infiltrate of lymphocytes, plasma cells and eosinophils
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Various images