What is Morgellons Disease?
When singer Joni Mitchell was hospitalised for a mystery ailment Morgellons disease, a lot of folks must have googled it. What is Morgellons disease? This is a disorder which is characterised by crawling sensations on and under the skin. The body also has sores and fibre type filaments emerging from this. These strings are like wisps of a cotton thread associated with a bandage. But some say these are the result of infection in the skin.
Getting Under Your Skin?
Morgellons is a disease where people feel their skin has something under it or trying to emerge from it. People who suffer from this disorder have all sorts of tiny objects such as fibres, granules, specks, worms, dots, sand, larvae and eggs and fuzzball coming out of their skin, leaving scars and lesions. Many scientific experts even categorise this as a psychological and mental condition rather than a physical problem. This mystery disease has research scientists puzzled.
Fibres in the body do not bear out forensic identification as mineral, animal or vegetable. The disease is a slow, unpredictable killer which attacks internal organs and leaves the person bedridden for days!
In the year 2012, the CDC published a study to assess what was going on as part of the USD 600,000 project launched in 2008 in response to interest and research on this disease. Researchers studied skin biopsy, urine and blood sample to see if a cause could be isolated. This is why the medical condition was categorised as delusional in origin.
The condition itself is rare. Nearly 4 of 100 thousand people in a 3.2m population studied had this disorder. Only 115 people so far have been identified with this syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of Morgellons disease are as follows:
- Skin rashes
- Intense itching
- Feeling something is crawling under the skin(like insects moving or biting)
- Fibres, threads or black material coming onto the skin
- Massive fatigue
- Problems in concentration
- Loss of short term memory
- Open Sores
A delusion of infestation by parasitical agents or delusional parasitises is another possible indication of this disease. While some medical experts say it is a real disease, others call it a mental delusion. Unexplained dermopathy or skin conditions that take place without reason or fibre disease are some of the other names.
Unpleasant skin sensations like bugs, burning or stinging sensations may take place. There is intense itching and skin sores heal very gradually and appear suddenly. Sores leave the skin red and some patients also report fibres stuck on their skin.
Apart from this, there is hair loss, pain in the joints and muscles, loss of teeth, sleep deficits and memory loss. This rare condition has been found in middle-aged white women and was once appearing in a cluster in CA. Diagnosis of Morgellons in London in another study from 2003 to 2008 found 18 patients with the disease, of which a majority were middle-aged and white.
What Researchers Know?
A link between Morgellons and infection with Borrelia spirochetes has been found by researchers. CDC researchers suggested that the condition was unexplained and without a known cause. Some health professionals also hold that the disease is a condition which research needs to provide evidence for. Another group believes it is a mental illness while a third does not acknowledge the disease till more is known about the condition. Another research found those with this disease also resist causes suggested by medical practitioners.
Morgellons has also been associated with Lyme disease. Other doctors have reported this disorder to be a psychotic condition. There is no established standard for diagnosing this disease. Most people suffering from this medical condition are assessed by medical professionals through history gathering of symptoms and asking about medical and psychological symptoms. Physical exams are ordered along with lab tests to assess appropriate diagnosing. Medical professionals may also carry out skin biopsies.
Coping & Management
Morgellons disease signs and symptoms can be extremely distressing. Even if certain healthcare professionals call this a mental condition, you definitely need treatment. For managing signs and symptoms, you need to have health care teams in place. Select a doctor who can help you with treatments, examine you and come up with options for curing the disease. Doctors will have very little to work with, so you need to be patient.
The doctor will look for known conditions and indicate a treatment course accordingly. Some doctors may also suggest mental health therapy and this can prove beneficial. It includes long-term mental health therapy for other associated conditions like anxiety and depression which can affect your body.
A multi-system disease, Morgellons is more than just a condition of the skin. Many people suffering from this disease have reported gastrointestinal problems, neurology issues, and visual disturbance. Other health infirmities have also been associated with this condition. Research has sought to study if this is really a medical condition or a psychological one. Compassionate medical care is essential.
Morgellons is not recognized by those in the medical communities. Compassionate and caring medical treatment is a must to monitor a physical condition and monitoring any symptoms that might have developed. Morgellons is believed by many medical practitioners to not be a physical condition. Despite evidence to the contrary, some doctors have categorised it as psychological in origin. Education and detailed understanding provide deeper insights into how to treat this disease and manage its symptoms. It is fascinating that this disease has physiological symptoms and yet, it is categorised as a psychological disorder.
However, until the research actually unearths a cause, based on studies of body tissues and blood, the situation will continue to be one where medical professionals alternate between a psychological or physiological verdict as a cause for the disease. Singer Joni Mitchell vowed to make a difference to the awareness about this disease. So have researchers. However, much remains unknown including incidence, epidemiology, causes, the possibility of diagnosis and possible treatment options. This is what makes a big difference to what is known about the disease. Unless more is know, Morgellons will continue to remain a mysterious disease with few clues.
Education and detailed understanding provide deeper insights into how to treat this disease and manage its symptoms. It is fascinating that this disease has physiological symptoms and yet, it is categorised as a psychological disorder. However, until the research actually unearths a cause, based on studies of body tissues and blood, the situation will continue to be one where medical professionals alternate between a psychological or physiological verdict as a cause for the disease.