20 maggots discovered living under a man's skin (YouTube)

A colony of living maggots has been discovered living underneath a man's skin after he returned home following a six-month trip to Africa.

The man, from China, known only as Mr Ma, had red sores and lumps running along the right side of his leg and body that were painful to touch and itchy, the Straits Times reports.

The man was found to have African tumbu fly maggots living in his skin. (YouTube)

He had the sores for two weeks before seeking treatment from a dermatologist, who told him it was not just a rash.

It was then discovered Mr Ma was infested with African tumbu fly maggots, a species common in parts of central and eastern Africa. Surgeons removed 20 live, wriggling maggots from under his skin.

Mr Ma had sores along his body and leg (YouTube)

Female tumbu flies often lay their eggs in soil contaminated with faeces and urine or damp clothing and bed sheets. After the larvae hatches, it attaches itself to unbroken skin and burrows underneath, making the skin swell.

If they find a host, after eight to 12 days they develop to the prepupal stage. It then leaves the host to become a fly.

The host gets boil-like masses normally found on the arms, waist, lower back and buttocks. While not normally causing severe health problems, there is a risk of infection and antiseptics or antibiotics are sometimes used to prevent this.