Parasitic Worms that can Penetrate Intact Skin


ISSN: 1059-6518

Parasitic worms and shoes – all about why, to stay healthy, we wear shoes.

By Frank Hubbell, DO

Illustrations By T.B.R. Walsh

The intention of this article is to explain why you should never, ever walk around the great outdoors barefoot, and why you should never, ever lie on moist ground exposing unprotected bare skin to the soil.

The reason is actually quite simple and a bit disgusting. There are parasitic worms that can live in warm, moist soil. When they come into contact with your skin, they will latch on to you, make a hole in your intact, healthy skin, and burrow into you. Once inside, they will proceed to their target organ, usually your intestinal tract, and parasitize you. As their unwilling host, you become sick and are now part of their life cycle.


Helminthes are parasitic worms in the Kingdom of Animalia.

Within this Kingdom there are two Phylum of parasitic worms, Platyhelmenthes and Nematoda.

The Phylum of Platyhelmenthes has two Classes of parasitic worms, Cestodes – tapeworms and Trematodes – flukes and flatworms.

The Phylum of Nematoda contains one Class of parasitic worms, Nematoda – roundworms.

There are many ways to divide up the world or parasitic worms. One way to distinguish them is by how they enter and parasitize their host. Most commonly, these parasitic worms gain entrance via the alimentary canal when you consume contaminated food or water. The other way is by penetrating intact, healthy skin.

In this article we are going to review the parasitic worms that gain access to their host by directly penetrating intact, healthy skin.

Parasitic Nematodes that enter the body by penetrating intact skin:

Necator americanis /Ancylostoma duodenale – hookworm

Ancylostoma braziliense – cutaneous larva migrans

Strongyloides stercoralis – threadworm

Parasitic Trematodes that enter the body by penetrating intact skin:

Schistosomiasis – swimmer’s itch

All of the other parasitic worms: cestodes – tapeworms, nematodes – round worms, and trematodes – flatworms and flukes, enter by ingestion of the infectious parasite in food or water.

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Roundworms – Hookworms

March/April 2012 ISSN-1059-6518 Volume 25 Number 2



 BY Frank Hubbell, DO

In the previous several issues of the WMNL, we discussed the Phylum of parasitic tapeworms Cestoda. Over the next several issues of the WMNL, we will explore the group of parasitic roundworms – the Nematodes.


Nematodes are considered to the most diverse orders of animals on earth. Estimated that there are over 1,000,000 species of nematodes, 28,000 species have been described.

16,000 of these species are parasitic, of which approximately a dozen parasitize humans.

It has often been noted, that every living thing on earth, whether plant or animal, harbors so many harmless nematodes in their “body” structures, that if all of their body tissues were to disappear, the nematodes left behind would still define their shape and cast a recognizable shadow.

One of the distinctive characteristics of Nematodes, roundworms, is that they have a tubular digestive system with an opening at both ends.


Parasitic Nematodes:


Necator americanis / Ancylostoma duodenale – hookworm

Ancylostoma braziliense – cutaneous larva migrans

Strongyloides stercoralis – threadworm

Ascariasis lumbricoides  – giant roundworm

Dracunculus medinensis – guinea worm

Enterobius vermicularis – pinworm, threadworm, seatworm

Wucheria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, Brugia timori – lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis)

Onchocerca volvulus – river blindness

Trichuris trichiura – whipworm

Trichinella spiralis – trichinosis

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