Maggot therapy, also known as larval therapy, is used for debridement in wound therapy where foreign objects and/or damaged tissues are removed for faster and effective healing.
Although strange for most people, this type of therapy has been used for several hundreds of years. The exact mechanism is still unknown, but maggot therapy does encompass three processes, namely debridement, cleansing, and healing.
What Science Says
Putting maggots into an open wound may seem repulsive and scary, but science has proven this is a great, quick method to clean the skin. A study from France’s University Hospital Center of Caen, which involved a number of men whose wounds had difficulty in healing, showed that maggot therapy is more effective than surgery in removing dead tissue in wounds.
The men were randomly assigned to undergo either surgical or maggot therapy. Maggots eat dead tissue and within a week, the men who received the unconventional treatment had seen progress. Although the results weren’t extremely dramatic and the therapy actually had the same results as with surgical therapy after two weeks, they are deemed helpful for people with diabetes.
Maggots and Diabetics
Patients with diabetes who need their wounds to be disinfected, debrided, and controlled immediately can benefit from maggot therapy according to the study mentioned above. The researchers though don’t recommend the use of the maggots for treatments that go beyond one week.
Uses and Benefits of Maggot Therapy
The US Food and Drug Administration (USDA) approved the use of maggots medically in 2004. In the US today, there are about 70 vials of maggots distributed to clinics, hospitals, and doctors to promote wound care. There are even manufactured dressings that have been designed for maggot treatment and are being used at many clinics. Medicinal maggots can be used in every bodily surface, externally of course but except the eyes. These fly larvae are used for:
- Wounds that are small, such as toe amputations that don’t seem to heal
- Huge traumatic injuries on the face, torso, and extremities
- Burn injuries
- Fungating breast wounds
- Necrosis of the glans penis
- Resected Fournier’s gangrene of perianal and genital regions
Clinicians who use maggot therapy note that this type of treatment is simple to carry out yet quite effective. It also does not have a lot of risks and complications when compared to surgical or other wound care treatments. Plus, it is very cheap and allows people to save on insurance money. Treatment usually costs $100 or less and this comes without high medical, hospital, and surgical costs.