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Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia

versão impressa ISSN 0365-0596

An. Bras. Dermatol. vol.89 no.4 Rio de Janeiro jul./ago. 2014 

Imaging in Dermatology

Dermoscopy as an auxiliary tool for the diagnosis of furuncular myiasis*

Fred Bernardes Filho1 

Gustavo Martins2 

Eduarda Faísca Barbará3 

Maria Luiza Barros de Paiva4 

Ricardo Luis Passos Coelho Filho4 

José Augusto da Costa Nery5 

1Prof. Rubem David Azulay Dermatology Institute at Rio de Janeiro Santa Casa da Misericórdia Hospital (IDPRDA-SCMRJ) - Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil

2Private Practice - Ituiutaba (MG), Brazil

3Universidade Estácio de Sá - Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil

4Petrópolis Medical School- Petrópolis (RJ) - Brazil

5Instituto Oswaldo Cruz - Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ) - Rio de Janeiro (RJ), Brazil


Furuncular myiasis occurs after larvae penetrate on the skin. The disease is characterized by the presence of a nodule with a central hole through which there is serosanguinous exudate drainage. The authors present a case of furuncular myiasis by Dermatobia hominis in which late diagnosis made it necessary to have the orifice margins surgically enlarged in order to extract the larva. They also emphasize that dermoscopy is a useful auxiliary tool in this diagnosis.

Key words: Dermoscopy; Diptera; Myiasis

A fifty-eight year-old male gardener related a persistent, non-healing wound on the left leg, for the previous 15 days. He had no recollection of local trauma and affirmed he had used ointments and creams, prescribed in two previous consultations, without improvement on the lesion. The patient denied other comorbidities and allergies. Dermatological examination found an erythematous nodule with a central orifice on the left leg (Figure 1). Initial clinical hypotheses were: furuncular myiasis, sporotrichosis and a lesion caused by foreign body. After the occlusion of the nodule, dermoscopy helped to establish the correct diagnosis by allowing the visualization of vertical movement (surfacing and submerging) of a structure with two yellow points on top, corresponding to the spiracles on the posterior end of the larva (Figures 2 and 3). After several unsuccessful attempts to extract the maggot, we proceeded with local anesthesia and expansion of the lesion's orifice, whereas the insect was removed (Figure 4).

FIGURE 1 Erythematous nodule with central hole on the inferior middle third of the left leg 

FIGURE 2 Dermoscopy showing the larva surfacing at the center of the lesion, after the occlusive alcohol-gel patch was removed 

FIGURE 3 Dermoscopy showing details of the cavity after the larva submerged in it 

FIGURE 4 Dermatobia hominis – larva extracted from the lesion 

Myiasis is a dermatozoonosis caused by larvae of the order Diptera in organs and tissues of man or other vertebrate animals, where they feed and develop as parasites.1 It is universally distributed and it can affect patients of any sex, age or race. Myiasis can be classified according to area of occurrence as cutaneous, subcutaneous or cavitary.2,3 The biological characteristics of the fly, can be categorized into: obligatory (primary or biontophagous), in which larvae develop by feeding on living tissue; facultative (secondary or necrobiontophagous), caused by larvae of flies that develop in decaying organic matter or accidental, caused by larvae ingested with food.1,3,4

Furuncular cutaneous myiasis is the most common clinical presentation of the disease, with the typical lesion being distinguished by a painful and inflammatory papule or nodule of furuncular aspect, with a central hole that drains out a slight serosanguinous exudate.5 Pruritus, sensation of larval movement and pain may also be reported. Secondary infection is the main complication. In Brazil, the most common agent is Dermatobia hominis.2

When the insect approaches a mammal to feed or rest, larvae are stimulated by heat, carbon dioxide and odors emitted from the host, thus leaving the eggs and actively penetrating the skin.5 The respiratory portion (spiracle) faces the outer part of the skin as the anterior part of the larva stays submerged in the dermis, where it feeds on purulent and necrotic materials in the lesion.1 Parasitism lasts for approximately 30 days in humans.2,3

Entodermoscopy involves the application of dermoscopy to help diagnose and monitor the treatment of infestations such as scabies, pediculosis, tungiasis, larva migrans, tick infestations and reactions to spider leg spines.6 Dermoscopic patterns that assist in the diagnosis of myiasis have already been described.7,8,9

Dermoscopy descriptions of furuncular myiasis reported in the literature mentioned a central opening, surrounded by dilated blood vessels, containing a yellowish structure with black spines. Also reported were structures described as bird's feet-like, corresponding to respiratory spiracles and black dots on the outer edge of the larva similar to a thorn crown.7,8,9

Recognition of man as a possible host of larvae is important in medicine, as it may cause irritation, discomfort, itching, insomnia and general physical disabilities, especially in large infestations. The proximal extremity of the larva can be easily visible to the naked eye, but in cases in which the aperture is too small, it may be difficult to visualize, making the use of dermatoscopy useful to confirm the diagnosis of myiasis. Early recognition and appropriate treatment of the disease permit clinical cure to be achieved and prevent the need for surgical intervention to extract the maggot, a fact that could not be avoided in the case reported due to the time of evolution and size of the larva.


1. Burns DA. Diseases Caused by Arthropods and Other Noxious Animals. In: Burns T, Breathnach S, Cox N, Griffiths C, editors. Rook's Textbook of Dermatology. 8th ed. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell; 2010 p. 38.2, 38.8-11. [ Links ]

2. Azulay RD, Azulay DR. Dermatozoonozes. Dermatoses por dípteros. Miíase. In: Azulay RD, Azulay DR, Azulay-Abulafia L. Dermatologia 5. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Guanabara Koogan; 2008. p. 482-4. [ Links ]

3. Caumes E, Carrière J, Guermonprez G, Bricaire F, Danis M, Gentilini M. Dermatoses associated with travel to tropical countries: a prospective study of the diagnosis and management of 269 patients presenting to a tropical disease unit. Clin Infect Dis. 1995;20:542-8. [ Links ]

4. Maier H, Honigsmann H. Furuncular myiasis caused by Dermatobia hominis, the human botfly. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;50:S26-30. [ Links ]

5. Neves DP. Parasitologia humana. 10. ed. São Paulo: Atheneu; 2000. [ Links ]

6. Zalaudek I, Giacomel J, Cabo H, Di Stefani A, Ferrara G, Hofmann-Wellenhof R, et al. Entodermoscopy: a new tool for diagnosing skin infections and infestations. Dermatology. 2008;216:14-23. [ Links ]

7. Abraham LS, Azulay-Abulafia L, Aguiar Dde P, Torres F, Argenziano G. Dermoscopy features for the diagnosis of furuncular myiasis. An Bras Dermatol. 2011;86:160-2. [ Links ]

8. Bastos CAS. Non-traditional Indications in dermoscopy. Surg Cosmet Dermatol. 2012;4:203-5. [ Links ]

9. Bakos RM, Bakos L. Dermoscopic diagnosis of furuncular myiasis. Arch Dermatol. 2007;143:123-4. [ Links ]

Financial funding: None

* Work performed at Prof. Rubem David Azulay Dermatology Institute at Rio de Janeiro Santa Casa da Misericórdia Hospital (IDPRDA-SCMRJ) - Rio de Janeiro (RJ) - Brazil.

How to cite this article: Bernardes Filho F, Martins G, Barbará EF, Paiva MLB, Coelho RLP, Nery JAC. Dermoscopy as an auxiliary tool for the diagnosis of furuncular myiasis. An Bras Dermatol. 2014;89(4):663-5.

Recebido: 16 de Julho de 2013; Aceito: 04 de Agosto de 2013

MAILING ADDRESS: Fred Bernardes Filho, Rua Marquês de Caxias, 9 - Sobrado - Centro, 24030-050 - Niterói - RJ, Brazil. E-mail:

Conflict of interest: None

Creative Commons License This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.