Everything about formication

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We are all a little bit scared of insects no matter what we say. The feeling of insects all over our body freaks us out. Formication is just that the feeling of insects across or even underneath your body. Formication is a type of paresthesia. Paresthesia is when a person has sensations that don’t have any physical cause. Formication can be described as the feeling that something is crawling up your body or sensation of pins and needles. It is also known as tactile hallucination. They can be a symptom of various conditions.

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Symptoms of formication:

The main symptom is the sensation of bugs or any insect crawling on or underneath your skin. The feeling of bugs crawling on your skin makes yours skin very itchy. That will cause you to scratch your skin with no physical cause but just based on the feeling of insects crawling on your skin.
There are also other symptoms of formication that include:

  • Body pain
  • Feeling tired and exhausted
  • Stiffness
  • Getting distracted easily
  • Tremors or shaking of hands and fingers.
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Feeling frustrated, angry or agitated


Causes of formication:

Formication is a mental disorder there is no specific cause for it. It can be a consequence of various conditions some of which are:


It can also be caused by low level of estrogens levels at the time of menopause. Formication can also occur when a person is going through withdrawal from drugs, alcohol. A lot of medications have serious side effects. It can also be caused by a lot of different kinds of drugs or medication which are used at the time of withdrawal. Few of which are:

  • Tramadol
  • Ritalin
  • Lunesta
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Crystal meth

Formication associated with drug withdrawal as usually temporary and resolve over time when person recovers from withdrawal. If the sensations or feelings are very intense it could be drug psychosis. People may experience visual hallucination as well which could also be a symptom of formication.

How to diagnose formication?

It is important to tell the doctor everything and try not to leave out and details or symptoms you might have noticed. For an accurate diagnosis, give the doctor a full picture of the symptoms you’ve been noticing. Mention if you have any underlying condition or a complication from drug use. Tell the doctor if you’ve noticed any other symptom in addition to formication. Mention what time of the day the crawling sensation are the most noticeable. Don’t forget to mention if you have been taking any medication and when you started taking them. You should also tell about how it felt when the sensations first started. If you drink alcohol don’t forget to mention that also.

How to treat formication?

Treatment for formication depends upon the underlying cause. A topical cream or an anti- itch cream might help reduce the itchiness. Moisturizers might as well help in reducing the itchiness by keeping the skin healthy and hydrated. Placing an ice pack over the area that itches can provide immediate relief or soothing effect. If the cause of the formication is the Parkinson’s disease, shingles then a doctor will prescribe appropriate medication and may even give a long term medication plan.


If the medication itself is the cause then the doctor will change it and prescribe an alternate medication. If the formication is a result of drug use or alcohol intake then quitting and finding professional help will be the best option. You can also go to therapy or get a sponsor to help you quit. Rehabilitation centers can help you address addiction to drugs like cocaine, meth, etc. It can also help you manage formication as a withdrawal symptom during your recovery from drug use. You could also opt for support groups as they provide you with a community to share your experiences with.


Other complications:

Complications from untreated and underlying condition that cause formication include:

  • Cuts and wounds due to scratching
  • Loss of feeling or sensation in few parts of your body
  • Meningitis
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Stroke


Other complications of formication include:

  • Tiredness and exhaustion
  • Frustration and anger issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Problem concentrating
  • Stiffness


It is important to seek medical advice for any and all complications it could lead to serious medical issues. Formication is a symptom of untreated, underlying condition that can be treated. Seek the help of a doctor if you experience constant and frequent episodes of formication. They can make a diagnosis and treatment plan that can help you get rid of the sensations.

Article sources:

  1. 1.
    Jewell T. Formication. healthline.com. https://www.healthline.com/health/formication

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