Maggot is a larvae or young form of the fly. Actually, the habitats of maggots are in water, old vegetables, meat , fruit, also in dead animal, but in some cases they also may live in living creatures such as pets and human. Yet the flies cannot just lay down their eggs wherever they want on human body. Usually, the odor which is came from an open wound (especially the infected ones) can attract flies, then followed by they lay their eggs which develop into maggots in the area.
Does maggot help heal wound?
Although maggots are disgusting and creepy, they are not always bad. In medical care, maggots are intentionally put on an open wound. They are used for wound healing treatment called maggots therapy. The common maggots which are used for this medical therapy are maggots of certain flies such as Green Bottle Fly or Nothern Blow Fly. The maggots are left to stay in the wound for two or three days (depends on the size and the infection of wound) covered by a dressing.
The common wounds which may be healed by this therapy are : venous statis ulcer, pressure ulcers, neuropathic foot ulcers, and non-healing necrotic skin and soft tissue wounds.
How useful are the maggots in this therapy? At least there are three advantages of this maggots therapy :
The wound is difficult to heal because of infection at the wound and the skin around it. But in this therapy, maggots eat the dead and infected tissue, then debride the wound by secreting proteolytic enzymes. After the therapy, the only thing left is a clean wound.
They prevent and kill the bacteria from the wound.
- They promote healthy tissues to grow quickly.
It is important to consider that the maggots which are used for this therapy are not the maggots you got from letting some flies penetrate their eggs on your wound, but the medical maggots which are provided specially for this purpose.
Does maggot carry disease?
People may think that since maggots are young flies, they carry disease to the wound where they live in. Actually maggot itself does not carry any disease, on the other hand the flies do.
Although they does not carry disease, an infestation called Myiasis may occur. Infestation occurs when an infected open wound attracts flies to lay their eggs into the wound, then those eggs become maggots, turn into flies which then repeat the life cyle on that wound. If the maggots are not removed or cleaned from the wound, this infestation may cause a further infection
How to clean the maggots?
People have different reasons to clean the maggots. First, the maggot therapy has succeeded by showing significant change and the wound can heal on its own or with another treatment. In this case, a doctor who apply the maggots treatment will clean them for you.
Another reason why the magggots need to be cleaned because they have infested the open wound. If that is the case, before you go to doctor, you can clean the maggots by following these steps :
- Clean the wound.
Wash the wound with water and soap, then gently clean any debris in the wound. Dry it by patting a soft clean cloth gently.
- If the maggots are only in a small number, you can pick them using medical blunt edge tweezers, but do it carefully and gently, you do not want to hurt the wound with those tweezers.
- If the number of maggots are big enough, it will be difficult to pick all of them one by one. You can kill most of them by :
- Using saline solution or hydrogen peroxide. Rinse saline or hydrogen peroxide to the open wound thoroughly. If the open wound is deep enough, pour it into the wound.
- Leaving the saline or peroxide in for twenty seconds or more. Usually, some of maggots will die.
- Dry the wound gently but do not rinse it, look if there are some maggots left.
- Soaking the opened wound with turpentine oil. You can prepare a gauze pad than soak it into turpentine oil, then apply the soaked gauze onto the wound. this time, leave it stays for an hour.
- After that, clean the dead maggots and look the wound carefully. If there are maggots left (usually in a very small number), you can remove them by using tweezers.
- Clean and dry the wound by patting a soft clean cloth or towel gently, then apply antibiotic ointment.
- Cover the wound with a new gauze pad and bandage.
Note : If you are not sure that all of maggots have been removed, repeat these steps and seek for medical care.
How to prevent maggot infestation
After cleaning maggots from the wound, it is important to make sure that they will not come back by following these steps :
- Prevent any flies fly or land around the open wound.
- Keep clean the open wound by regularly clean the drainage or other debris.
- Change the dressings regularly.
- Do not touch the wound with your hands before you make sure they are steril, because your hands may bring some bacteria to the wound.
- Create a barrier. You can dab petroleum jelly on the open wound to prevent the flies landing directly to the wound.