SAN DIEGO – The path to successful treatment of patients with imagined skin disorders is paved with compassion, according to John Koo, MD, a dermatologist and psychiatrist with the University of California at San Francisco.
When a patient presents with delusional parasitosis -- horror stories about imagined infestations of parasites or bugs – the key to successful treatment is a positive attitude and validation, not denial, Dr. Koo said in a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.
"I cannot afford to go in (the exam room) with a long face," he said. "If I go in and I’m not looking happy, things can deteriorate quickly. So I make sure I go in with the biggest smile on my face like I'm meeting my favorite Hollywood star."
"When I say something like 'It's like a living hell, isn't it,' patients are really touched, he said. The patient’s response is typically 'You're the first dermatologist to understand what I'm going through.' You cannot endorse their delusion, but you can endorse their suffering."
In our video interview, Dr. Koo delved into techniques for the successful work-up and evaluation of patients with delusional parasitosis, the varying degrees of the condition, medications used for treatment, and the prospects for eventual drug-free relief.
Dr. Koo reports no relevant financial disclosures.