A teenager was spending a day at the beach in South Florida doing what many of us do at the beach – enjoying the sun, feeling the sand between our toes, and asking friends to bury us in the sand. The teen developed small red bumps on his skin soon after he returned home. The itchy spots spread to his feet, legs, and backside. It turns out the teen had a particularly nasty case of hookworms.
His mother, Kelli Dumas, describes the situation: “I can’t stress enough how traumatic it is for a teenage boy — and his mother — to know that there are worms living in his body.” Several of the teens friends also contracted hookworms, which makes the situation even more disgusting.
How does sand get contaminated with hookworms? Animals or humans infected with the super gross worms defecate into sand or soil, and “because their feces carry the parasite’s eggs, the ground then becomes contaminated.” They can penetrate the skin and meander into the bloodstream. The microscopic larvae “roam around in the person’s skin — causing those red, squiggly marks — trying, but unable, to mature or to reproduce.
Dumas goes so far as to recommend the following:
“Never walk barefoot on a beach again. Never be buried in the sand or allow someone else to…I can assure you, no one knows to wear shoes on the beach.”
Hookworms are gross but usually not serious. The most common symptoms are itchy skin and a rash, and can be treated with medication. The parasite may even die on its own, and most people do not usually feel it move inside their skin. So throw caution to the wind and continue walking barefoot on the beach! Let me know what happens.