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While You're Away: Barefoot Walking

BarefootThere’s nothing like kicking off your shoes and going for a walk on the beach. Why else did you fly down to the Caribbean. Just keep in the back of your mind that there are sometimes microscopic worms, fleas, men (and women) -of-war waiting to puncture your skin.

Cutaneous larva migrans, or "Creeping Eruption", is an interesting infection caused by dog and cat hookworms. These larva which might have been left on the beach by the local pet can penetrate your unbroken skin. This usually occurs on your foot, though it can happen anywhere, depending upon how you choose to sunbathe. It will cause an itchy, blistered, serpiginous rash, which seems to be advancing a few centimeters a day. It does not creep anywhere else, such as your brain, liver or wife!

It can usually be recognized by a doctor who has seen it before. It is treatable with a drug called Albendazole. Try to avoid doctors who are anxious to freeze the worm, or worse still, cauterize it. I would not go as far as telling people not to walk barefoot, but try to avoid places where the local dogs, cats, and sometimes people, have left their droppings! Staying close to the water’s edge is a bit safer, as the tide can wash away anything harmful.

In addition to animal hookworms, there are also human hookworms that might be lurking in the soil where proper sanitary facilities are lacking. These can also penetrate your bare feet. Hookworm is a major cause of iron deficiency anemia in those who are constantly exposed to such conditions. So beware of where you tread , and wear your sandals.

Content (c) Mark Wise
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