Morgellons Disease

Morgellons disease is a scarce, controversial, not-fully-understood skin condition that is characterized by tiny fibers and other small particles forthcoming from sores on the skin.

People with this rare medical condition often complain to clinicians about feeling as if something is crawling under and stinging their skin.

Medical Professionals believe Morgellons disease to be a delusional disorder that leads to the belief that one has an embedded parasite or unknown material, and this material is moving and coming out in sores on the skin.

Almost nothing is known about Morgellons disease, as this disorder is usually associated with non-specific skin, nerve, and psychiatric symptoms. It is sometimes referred to as fiber disease.

In the 17th century, painful eruptions of coarse hairs on the backs of children were first described and called “Morgellons”. In 1938, the skin-crawling feeling phenomenon started coming into play as symptoms of an unknown medical/mental condition, this feeling was named delusional parasitosis, meaning the false belief that bugs have infected the skin.

Although Morgellons skin disease may have existed long before the 19th century, symptoms of a disease condition matching that of Morgellons disease was first reported in the United States in 2002.

Since then, this condition now termed Morgellons disease has become a polemic topic. But due to the high levels of uncertainty surrounding the disease, it has become a controversial condition, and research on this topic has been greatly limited.

For some reasons of its uncertainty, Morgellons disease is not solely classified but said to be more of a psychiatric symptom. Although few insights into the disease seem to reveal Morgellons disease as a true disease such like in 2013, research from microbiologist Marianne J. Middelveen and her colleagues suggest an association between the disease and the tick-borne bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, if such association exists then this would support the theory that Morgellons disease is an infection.

However, clinicians still greatly consider it a mental health disorder that should be treated with antipsychotic medication.

Causes of Morgellons disease

Reports exist that Morgellons disease was found in patients with Lyme disease. Many doctors still strongly believe that this skin disease- Morgellons disease is a form of psychosis that causes imaginations of infestation by parasites in the skin (delusional parasitosis) rather than a diagnosis based upon physical signs.

Morgellons disease is not contagious as there are no subsequent reports and research to confirm the hypothesis that the disease might be from an infection or from an environmental toxin.

Risk Factors of Morgellons disease

The Morgellons Research Foundation has reported that more than 14,000 families are affected by Morgellons disease.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a 2012 study conducted on about 3.2 million participants stated that the prevalence of Morgellons disease was 3.65 cases per 100,000 participants.

This study also revealed that Morgellon is most often observed in middle-aged, white women.

Other few conducted studies shows that people that are at high risk of Morgellons disease are persons that:

  • Were exposed to a tick.
  • Have Lyme disease.
  • Have hypothyroidism.
  • Have blood tests that indicate he/she was bitten by a tick.

Symptoms of Morgellons disease

The most usual symptoms of Morgellon disease are the presence of small white, red blue, or black fibers under or erupting from sores or unbroken skin as the case may be, the sensations of crawling on and under the skin.

Other symptoms of Morgellon disease are similar to those of Lyme disease and some include:

  • Intense itching
  • Fatigue
  • Site inflammation
  • Watery fibers, thread-like or black stringy material emulsions from lesions on the skin
  • Joint aches and pains
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Skin rash and sores
  • Short term memory loss
  • Burning sensations

For these reasons, Morgellons disease is sometimes referred to as a crawling disease. The person with this disease may feel that they have skin mites, springtails (collembolan), or scabies that cause the skin sensation.

Diagnosis of Morgellon disease

Morgellon disease does not have an established standard for professional diagnostics. Health care clinicians tend to assess persons for this by gathering historical information about symptoms as well as investigate medical and mental health.

Physical examinations are performed, and varieties of laboratory tests and skin biopsy may be conducted to determine the appropriate diagnosis.

However, common attitudes of health professionals against Morgellons disease include:

  • Thinking that symptoms are caused by another, often mental illness or side effect of a medication.
  • Withdrawal symptoms of drug addiction
  • Thinking that Morgellon disease is a specific condition that needs more research confirmations.
  • Not acknowledging Morgellon disease or reserving judgment until more facts are known about it.

Treatment of Morgellons disease

No specific treatment is known. But there are two main approaches that medical professionals take towards the treatment of Morgellons disease, based on the intuition of the doctor concerning the presented problem.

When the doctor suspects Morgellons disease from the symptoms presented is caused by an infection, he/she may treat approach treatment with several antibiotics for a reasonable period of time.

This medication approach may kill the bacteria and heal the skin sores. Anxieties, stress and other mental problems developed from coping with Morgellons disease may be treated with psychiatric medications or psychotherapy.

A medical consultant who thinks the condition is a result of mental health issues may approach with psychiatric medications or psychotherapy alone.

It may be frustrating and devastating for a patient to unexpectedly get a psychiatric diagnosis when he/she believes it’s a skin disease. So, in other to avoid this, clinicians should establish long-term relationships with patients and be open-minded to take the time to listen to complaints from individuals.

While there is no specific cure for Morgellons disease, individuals who suffer from the condition have been discovered to respond positively and benefit from medications that treat psychosis or tics (a repetitive and spasmodic contraction of the muscles, usually of the face) like Zyprexa and pimozide (Orap).

Doctors should, however, try to be receptive about trying different treatments including visiting a psychiatrist or psychotherapist if it is recommended to assist with the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress that are sometimes associated with dealing with this confusing disease.

Home Remedies recommended for people with Morgellons disease are easily gotten from the internet, but their effectiveness and safety may not be guaranteed, and so recommendation choices should be thoroughly investigated before use. In addition, there are many skincare websites selling creams, lotions, pills, and wound dressings, though often expensive but of questionable benefits. Except safety can be guaranteed and it is worth the cost, these products should be avoided; advisable to consult a dermatologist before making any approach.    

Coping with Morgellons disease symptoms can be very distressing as health professionals are likely to disagree about the nature of the condition deserves compassionate and long-term treatment mostly. To manage the signs and symptoms, patients need to:

  • Establish a relationship with a caring health care team.
  • Be patient.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Seek treatment for other conditions.