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Parasitic Infections of the Skin and Subcutaneous Tissues

Norgan, Andrew, P., MD, PhD*; Pritt, Bobbi, S., MD, MSc*,†

Advances In Anatomic Pathology: March 2018 - Volume 25 - Issue 2 - p 106–123
doi: 10.1097/PAP.0000000000000183
Review Articles

A variety of arthropods, protozoa, and helminths infect the skin and subcutaneous tissues and may be identified by anatomic pathologists in standard cytology and histology preparations. The specific organisms seen vary greatly with the patient’s exposure history, including travel to or residence in endemic countries. Arthropods are the most commonly encountered parasites in the skin and subcutaneous tissues and include Sarcoptes scabei, Demodex species, Tunga penetrans, and myiasis-causing fly larvae. Protozoal parasites such as Leishmania may also be common in some settings. Helminths are less often seen, and include round worms (eg, Dirofilaria spp.), tapeworms (eg, Taenia solium, Spirometra spp.), and flukes (eg, Schistosoma spp.). This review covers the epidemiologic and histopathologic features of common parasitic infections of the skin and subcutaneous tissues.

*Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reprints: Bobbi S. Pritt, MD, MSc, Mayo Clinic, 200 1st Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905 (e-mail: All figures can be viewed online in color at

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