The Cause of Meth Bugs
The tactile and visual hallucination of crank bugs (also called meth bugs, meth mites, ice bugs, or ice mites), has a scientific explanation. The US Department of Justice coined it “formication.” One side effect of meth is a rise in body temperature which leads to increased sweating. The meth-laced sweat that is produced it contains an enzyme that increases blood flow to the skin.
When the sweat dries up, it leaves this acidic enzyme behind on the user’s skin. The layer of protective oils normally in place to protect the skin is removed by these enzymes. Combined with the dehydration caused by meth, the user experiences a crawling sensation on the nerves in their skin. This encourages the hallucination and belief that meth mites are crawling across and underneath their skin.
Although any sober person can see there are no actual bugs, the sensory feelings are very real to the person on meth. In order to relieve the sensation, meth users scratch and pick at their dry skin. The compulsive picking, both conscious and subconscious, leads to open sores that crack and bleed.
Repeated picking in the same spot will re-open these wounds and make it difficult for the body to heal itself. Along with the toxic chemicals in their body, the lack of water intake, and the minimal amount of food ingested, their body has little to use to heal itself.