Maggots as wound cleaners: maggot therapy

Maggot therapy is used for people with serious flesh wounds. The maggots then clean the wound. Research has now shown that they also weaken bacteria. But how does maggot therapy where maggots clean wounds work? And is it gross to have maggots on you cleaning your wounds?

Maggot therapy seems dirty, but it often saves body parts

It’s a dirty idea that maggots are put on people to clean wounds. Maggots are always associated with dirt. Anyone who leaves their garbage can outside for too long gets maggots. If you leave meat lying around for a long time, the critters will visit you in large numbers. But many people do not realize that maggots are also very helpful for serious wounds.

Maggots were already used in the last century to treat wounds

Yet the method has existed in the Netherlands since the late 1990s. That year, trauma surgeon Gerrolt brought Jukema from the Leiden University Medical Center to our country. By the way, the treatment was not new. Maggots were used for medical treatment in America as early as the 1920s and 1930s. However, at some point they became redundant, as penicillin took over the task. However, since the beginning of the 19th century, more and more people have become resistant to antibiotics, which is why old remedies were taken out of the closet again.

What is maggot therapy used for?

Maggot therapy can work extremely well for people who have an infected flesh wound that does not seem to go away. Especially in cases where the amputation of an arm or leg seems unavoidable, they are often successfully treated with the larvae that come from blowflies.

How does maggot treatment work?

People with chronic wounds are increasingly receiving maggot treatment. The animals are placed in a kind of tea bag that is placed against the broken skin. A wound of 25 square centimeters requires between 100 and 200 maggots. The animals only eat part of the meat, which causes an infection, it seemed, but it has now been proven what exactly happens.

  • The insects break down the protective layer of the bacteria that cause an infection in a wound. This makes antibiotics work better.
  • In addition, they produce a substance that inhibits the body’s natural innate defenses. In chronic wounds, an inflammatory reaction takes place for a very long time, which can ultimately result in a leg or arm having to be amputated. This is because the immune system is working excessively. The maggots slow this down and therefore a wound heals much faster.

The success of maggot therapy is great and the treatment has no side effects

The success of maggot therapy is great. It works in 80 to 90 percent of patients. Moreover, there are no side effects at all. Yet many people find it very scary to have this method done. Besides the fact that patients often find it a strange way of healing, not all doctors are convinced of its importance. That is why many doctors only recommend maggot therapy when all other treatment methods have failed.

Where can maggot therapy be done?

In 2010, maggot therapy can be performed in 40 Dutch hospitals.