Skin nontumor
Tunga penetrans

Topic Completed: 1 July 2011

Minor changes: 28 August 2020

Copyright: 2002-2020,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Tunga penetrans

Mowafak Hamodat, M.B.Ch.B., M.Sc.
Page views in 2019: 711
Page views in 2020 to date: 450
Cite this page: Hamodat M. Tunga penetrans. website. Accessed October 28th, 2020.
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

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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
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