INTENSE itching, the "horrifying" sensation of tiny parasites moving and finally the excruciating pain of the dying-off - this Sunshine Coast woman lived it all in a rare hookworm ordeal.
The 42-year-old, who did not want to be named, told the ABC of her post-holiday nightmare after she walked barefoot on Vietnam beaches and stood on microscopic hookworm larvae, most likely from animal faeces.
She first noticed symptoms in her feet when she woke up one morning about a week later, back home.
"It was the worst feeling I have ever had, they were swollen, the most intense itching I have ever experienced in my life, swelling, my veins were poking out," she said.
"I had patches of pin prick-looking blisters all through my toes and that was obviously the point of entry - it was just horrific.
"It was like nothing I've ever experienced before."
She then started to feel a tingling sensation as the hookworms began wriggling inside her feet.
The condition was so rare her GP struggled to make a diagnosis until she mentioned a news story about a couple who contracted hookworm with similar symptoms.
The GP had never had a patient with the condition before, and prescribed medication that had to be ordered in from interstate.
The medication killed the hookworm, but they weren't about to go down without a fight.
She described the hours after taking the medication as the worst night of her entire life.
"It's called the dying off and it's when the hookworm is dying and it's trying to escape your body so every symptom I've ever had came back but times 10," she said.
She said she had taken holidays at Asian beaches for 10 years and never had an issue, and she walked on the sand much less often than her children.
Experts recommend travellers wear closed in shoes in regions with poor sanitation.