What is Formication?
Formication is a medical term used to describe the sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin. The term is derived from the Latin word “formica,” which means ant. Although it is often associated with drug use or withdrawal, formication can also be a symptom of various medical conditions, including anxiety.
What Causes Formication?
Formication can be caused by various factors, including drug use, withdrawal, and medical conditions. Some common causes of formication include:
Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining the nervous system, and its deficiency can cause nerve damage, leading to symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and formication. However, it is essential to note that vitamin deficiencies are just one of many potential causes of formication.
Formication is a common symptom of drug use, particularly stimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamines. These drugs can cause the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in reward and pleasure. The release of dopamine can lead to a heightened sense of euphoria and energy and a sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin.
Formication can also be a symptom of drug withdrawal. When a person stops using a drug, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, including formication. This is because the body is trying to adjust to the absence of the drug and rebalance its neurotransmitter levels.
Formication can also be a symptom of various medical conditions, including menopause, diabetes, thyroid problems, and peripheral neuropathy. These conditions can cause nerve damage or imbalances in the body’s hormones, leading to the sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin.
Crawling Sensation on the Head?
The primary symptom of formication is the sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin. This sensation can occur anywhere on the body but is most commonly felt on the arms, legs, and face. Some people describe the sensation as tingling, itching, burning, or prickling.
In addition to the sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin, people with formication may also experience other symptoms, including:
- Skin picking: People with formication may feel the urge to pick at their skin to remove the imaginary insects.
- Anxiety: Formication can be a symptom of anxiety, and people with formication may experience fear, worry, or panic.
- Insomnia: The sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin can make sleeping difficult, leading to insomnia.
How to Treat Formication
The treatment for formication depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Suppose formication is caused by drug use or withdrawal. In that case, the best action is to seek help from a medical professional to address the addiction or manage the withdrawal symptoms.
If formication is caused by a medical condition, the treatment will focus on managing the underlying condition. For example, if formication is caused by diabetes, the treatment will focus on managing blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication.
In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of formication. Antipsychotic drugs such as olanzapine and risperidone are effective in treating the sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help manage the symptoms of formication. CBT is a talk therapy that helps people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to their symptoms.
Korean Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine
Combined Korean acupuncture and herbal medicine granules can help treat the crawling sensation on any parts of the body.
Is Formication a Symptom of Anxiety?
Formication can be a symptom of anxiety, particularly in people with anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Is Formication Normal?
Anxiety causes the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, leading to physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, and the sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin.
People with anxiety may also be more prone to developing formication due to hypervigilance and hyperarousal. These conditions can cause the brain to perceive normal bodily sensations as threats, leading to an exaggerated response.
In addition, anxiety can cause people to engage in skin-picking behaviors to alleviate the sensation of insects crawling on or under the skin. Skin-picking can lead to skin damage and infections, further exacerbating the symptoms of formication.
Treatment for formication related to anxiety typically focuses on managing the underlying anxiety disorder. This may include medication, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, as well as therapy, such as CBT or exposure therapy.
What Does Formication Feel Like at Night?
Formication can feel different for different people, but the sensation is generally described as insects crawling on or under the skin. Some people may also explain the sensation as tingling, itching, burning, or prickling.
The sensation can occur anywhere on the body but is most commonly felt on the arms, legs, and face. The phenomenon can be persistent or intermittent and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as skin picking, anxiety, and insomnia.
Will Formication Ever Go Away?
Whether formication will go away depends on the underlying cause of the condition. Suppose formication is caused by drug use or withdrawal. The sensation will typically disappear once the drug use or withdrawal symptoms are addressed.
How to Stop Formication
Suppose formication is caused by a medical condition. In that case, the treatment will focus on managing the underlying condition. The sensation may disappear once the state is under control.
If formication is related to anxiety, the sensation may go away with treatment for the anxiety disorder. However, formication may persist in some cases even after the anxiety disorder is under control.
It is essential to seek medical attention if you are experiencing the sensation of insects crawling on or under your skin, as this can be a sign of a severe medical condition or drug use.
Dr. Kihyon Sohn, an acupuncture and herbal medicine doctor in Beaverton, Oregon, provides effective treatments on the health conditions using the combined Korean acupuncture and herbal medicine.
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