In Bacon Therapy, the Meat Isn’t for You: It’s for the Bugs Eating Your Skin | Smart News | Smithsonian
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In Bacon Therapy, the Meat Isn’t for You: It’s for the Bugs Eating Your Skin

Bacon therapy might sound like an awesome thing. It is not

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Image: fritish

Bacon therapy might sound like a really desirable form of medical treatment. It is not. Bacon therapy is what some doctors do to get rid of insect larvae that have burrowed beneath your skin and are eating you from the inside. It involves doctors shoving pieces of raw meat into the breathing hole of these worm, which both entices the worm towards the bacon and blocks its air supply. Seriously.

According to Discover Magazine, sometimes bacon therapy can last hours to get all the little worms out of your skin. Rebecca Kreston describes the case study of a poor girl who had screwworms in her scalp:

Using a petroleum jelly occusion and bacon therapy, 142 larvae were extricated from her scalp and she was treated with antibiotics for an infection of the wound with Staphylococcus aureusShe was the unfortunate victim of one of the fourth most common travel-associated skin disease, but thankfully only emerged with scar tissue, an unfashionable haircut and a helluva travel story.

Over at the blog Life in the Fast Lane, emergency physician Mike Cadogan explains why the meat of choice is so often bacon:

I think using bacon fat is a good idea. It doesn’t take too long (about three hours), doesn’t leave dead larvae under the skin (as oil occlusion, lignocaine infiltration or larvacide treatment may), it’s non-invasive (avoids the need for incision and drainage) and is cheap. However, it may not be suitable for extreme cases of Tumbu larva infestation as the female fly lays 100-300 eggs in several batches – that would need a lot of bacon.

paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association describes another case of bacon therapy. And the British Medical Journal notes that bacon therapy is one of the few extraction methods that leaves very few scars. They make no mention of the emotional ones, though.

 

More from Smithsonian.com:

Why Are We So Crazy for Bacon?
Next Year, We Start to Run Out of Bacon

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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