Hardening and thickening of the skin caused by a disease that is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes.


Elephantiasis is part of a disease called lymphatic filariasis. The disease is spread by mosquitoes infected with roundworm parasites, often Wuchereria bancrofti roundworms. Adult worms cause swelling in part of the immune system called the lymph system. This leads to a buildup of lymph fluid that, over time, results in elephantiasis.


Elephantiasis involves painful hardening and thickening of the skin. Affected skin also can become rough and form cracks. It mainly affects the legs and feet, making daily activities hard to do. Elephantiasis develops over years, even after the roundworms that cause lymphatic filariasis die.


Elephantiasis treatment involves medical care for any wounds or infections. It also includes proper hygiene, exercise, use of supportive footwear and elevation of affected limbs while at rest. Elephantiasis may not involve medicine to get rid of roundworms, because often the infection with the parasite is already over.

Last Updated Mar 6, 2024

© 2024 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of Use