Parasitic Infections of the Skin and Subcutaneous Tissues

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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.

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