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Larval Therapy: How Maggots Help Heal Wounds


There are many ways to help accelerate the wound healing process. It can be something as simple as getting enough sleep, eating right, or cleaning the wound regularly.


But then again there are also “unique” ways to help accelerate the process and one of them is through the use of maggots, otherwise known as larval therapy.


What is Larval Therapy?

Larval (or larvae) therapy is the process of applying maggots to a wound to help accelerate the wound healing process. Maggots are used to treat dirty or infected wounds because they can effectively remove dead tissue as well as germs and bacteria.


There are no ordinary maggots, though. Thye maggots used in this procedure are especially bred and are clean and sterile so they won’t cause further infection. These maggots are also very young so they won’t be able to lay eggs or be in your wound long enough to transform into flies.


The procedure has been well documented for centuries but it only rose to popularity around the 1990s. This was because antibiotic resistance was becoming a problem while topical therapies take a very long time to show positive results.


Why Use Larval Therapy?

The use of such procedures come with several benefits. For one, the maggots are quick and effective in removing dead tissue, leaving healthy tissue behind to heal.


It also helps reduce wound infection while also reducing wound smell at the same time. The procedure also created a more alkaline wound bed which helps inhibit bacterial growth. It also helps produce antibiotic-like agents.


More importantly, it enzymatically breaks down slough and eschar without damaging healthy tissues.


Does this Treatment Come with Risks?

Like any other procedure, larval therapy does come with a couple of risks. Some patients may feel increased pain if there’s reduced blood supply to the wound. Should this happen, the treatment can be stopped or painkillers can be recommended.


There is also that possibility of the surrounding skin becoming irritated. A barrier cream or dressing should be used if this happens.


While it’s rare for maggots to cause wounds to bleed, they will immediately be removed if there is bleeding found in the daily inspections that will be conducted. The body temperature may also increase during the procedure though it isn’t really something to worry about.


How are the Maggots Applied?

There are two ways to apply maggots in this type of treatment. They can be applied using a bag (also known as a BioBag) that resembles a teabag. This is the most commonly used application. The maggots in the bag can stay on your wound for up to 5 days before they are removed.


They can also be directly applied by putting them on top of the wound. A net dressing is placed over them as well as a moistened piece of gauze (mostly with saline) as well as an absorbent dressing pad. The maggots would then stay on the wound for 3 days before they are removed.

The choice of application type is usually decided by your doctor or a specialist nurse depending on the status and severity of the wound.


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