British traveller’s swollen forehead turns out to be MAGGOTS

Woman goes to the doctor with a swollen forehead… only for doctors to pull out two MAGGOTS that burrowed into her skin during a trip to Africa

  • The woman, who went to a hospital in York, had been travelling in Uganda
  • Doctors believe she wrapped her head in a damp towel with fly eggs on it
  • They originally thought the swelling and pain on her head was an infected bite
  • But two maggots were removed from near her hair line in the ‘rare’ case

A painful lump on the forehead may, for most of us, be a sign we’ve banged our head on the kitchen cupboard.

But for one woman who recently returned from a holiday in Uganda, a red swelling on her hairline turned out to be a pair of maggots living under her skin.

The 55-year-old went to hospital with swelling on her head, which doctors thought was an infected insect bite, so they sent her home with antibiotics.

But three days later she returned with ‘shooting pains’ in her face. The swelling had also spread down to her eyes. 

Medics conducted tests and found a maggot burrowed inside her forehead. Further scans then revealed another was still there. 

The unnamed woman, who went to hospital in York because of pain and swelling spreading across her forehead, was found to have two maggots buried into the skin on her face

They removed both maggots and the woman made a full recovery from her ‘rare’ ordeal, which begun after she wrapped a towel with fly eggs on it round her head.

The patient went to hospital while suffering concerning symptoms after a trek through a rainforest in Kibale National Park, Uganda.

The swelling continued to get worse after her first visit to a hospital in York, and she was kept as an inpatient for four days when she returned.

The woman, whose name is not known, had the first insect removed after it was smothered with petroleum jelly.

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But an ultrasound scan afterwards revealed one maggot remaining under her forehead skin near the hairline, doctors said in the British Medical Journal Case Reports.

In this instance, medics cut open the skin to remove the creature and clean out the wound.

‘I returned to hospital after phoning up to say my symptoms had got worse/my face more swollen and I was in great pain,’ the patient said.

‘I was seen quickly and admitted to the maxillofacial ward where they were just great—extremely helpful.

‘I have previously been used to having lots of things running through my mind – ideas, particularly, would often pop out [but] maggots were a first!’

Once the larvae had been removed they were sent to the London School of Tropical Medicine, where experts identified them as Lund’s fly offspring.

Myiasis – infection with maggots – from Lund’s flies is rare, they said, with only one other case being recorded since 2015.

Doctors covered the site where the first maggot was living under her skin – a condition known as myiasis – with petroleum jelly, then removed the creature

The maggot was sent to the London School of Tropical Medicine, where experts confirmed it was the larva of a Lund’s fly, which do not commonly make it under the skin of people

And it was also rare for the larvae to burrow into the forehead because fly eggs are usually transferred to the skin of the legs or abdomen on clothing.

The woman revealed she had wrapped her head in a damp towel which had been left outside, on which doctors believe a fly had laid its eggs.

In myiasis cases fly eggs usually get under someone’s skin through a small surface wound like a scratch or graze, then develop into maggots before dropping off on their own. 

‘Also, a friend of my son who joined us in Uganda had the same infestation on his back when he left to come home to UK.

‘But the walk-in centre in London where he lives did not believe the lump on his back was anything more than an infected bite. He also had a maggot which came out when he took the Elastoplast off!’

The doctors said the lesson in this patient’s case was to always take into account a patient’s recent travelling history.

Although the woman’s case was unlikely, delayed diagnosis could cause extra pain and inconvenience, they said.


A 32-year-old woman in Russia visited medics after noticing strange lumps on her face for two weeks, where she discovered she had a worm living under her skin, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in June.

The unnamed woman went to an eye doctor after the bumps, which she said itched and burned, moved from her eye socket to her lip, making it swell up like a balloon.

She had first noticed a small bump beneath her left eye, then five days later it had moved of its own accord to the top of her eye, just above her eyelid.

It remained there for ten days, before disappearing and then causing her top lip to swell up far beyond its normal size.

Doctors saw the lump was moving, identified it as as a parasitic worm and removed it with surgery.

The type of worm which lodged itself in the woman’s eye are the kind which can enter people’s immune system and cause elephantiasis or blindness. 

The unnamed Russian woman took regular photos of herself to keep track of the lumps as they moved around her face

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