Volume 67, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Tungiasis is caused by the penetration of the female sand flea Tunga penetrans into the epidermis. It is generally assumed that lesions are confined to the feet. To determine to what degree tungiasis occurs at other topographic sites, 1,184 inhabitants of a poor neighborhood in northeastern Brazil were examined; 33.6% were found to have tungiasis (95% confidence interval = 30.9-36.4%). Six percent presented lesions at locations other than the feet, with the hands being the most common ectopic site (5.5%). Other sites were the elbows, thighs, and gluteal region. Ectopic tungiasis was significantly associated with the total number of lesions (P < 0.001) and an age less than 15 years old (P = 0.02). In 86 patients actively recruited with lesions on their feet, ectopic localizations were observed in 25.6%. Since untreated sand flea lesions are prone to become superinfected, clinicians should be aware of not missing any ectopic localization of tungiasis.


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