Morgellons disease: everything you need to know

Morgellons disease is a disorder characterized by skin lesions associated with the feeling of having insects or parasites under the skin. Its origin is highly controversial, ranging from infections to psychiatric problems.

If you suffer from this condition or you are interested in knowing a little more about the subject, we invite you to read the following article. Although there are still questions to be deciphered, some scientific information has already been evaluated.

What could be the possible causes of Morgellons disease?

It is a controversial condition that has had multiple names, depending on the context and the affected population. In fact, many consider it to be the same as the parasitic dermatozoal delusion, a psychiatric condition described in the early 20th century.

Therefore, any of the explanations mentioned throughout this article only correspond to hypotheses that have not been universally accepted. Scientific studies on this are quite contradictory, postulating an infectious or psychiatric origin.

In this regard, the most extensive and well-known research work was carried out by Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States. This study evaluated 115 cases reported in a California center between 2006 and 2008, concluding that there was no underlying medical condition or common infection in these patients.

This allowed to reinforce the theory that it is a parasite delusion, even more so when people show clinical improvement after several sessions of psychotherapy.

The characteristic skin lesions also have several explanations. They have been linked to an infection by Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, although it is also believed to be only cotton remnants from the clothing of severely itchy patients.

Scratching over clothing would leave cotton fibers in the lesions, which can then be removed.

What are its signs and symptoms?

The most characteristic of this disease is the combination of skin lesions with psychiatric disorders, the latter being quite varied. In many cases it is not possible to know if they are a manifestation of the disease or if they are previous conditions.

There is usually frequent tingling in the extremities, called paresthesia. It is very characteristic that patients feel the presence of small insects or parasites moving under the skin, a phenomenon known as formication.

This is accompanied by intense itching, which can produce open and red lesions with a tendency to secondary bacterial superinfection. Around them are small light-colored fibers on the surface or under the skin, which can even be removed by a professional. In many cases they turn out to be traces of cotton, the product of scratching on top of clothing.

Among the associated psychiatric disorders are cognitive problems, concentration and attention deficit. Over time, this condition could lead to generalized anxiety disorder and depression, requiring specific medical treatment.

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Possible complications of Morgellons disease

The severity of skin lesions is highly dependent on scratching by the patient. If this is very intense, excoriation disorder can occur.

If you do not have adequate hygiene behaviors, it is possible that several lesions become infected and give rise to more complicated clinical conditions, such as cellulite. In these cases, a treatment with antibiotics is necessary.

When symptoms occur for a long time, the development of a major depressive disorder is possible. It is characterized by affecting almost all aspects of life, causing isolation, difficulty in establishing social relationships and anxiety.

These patients need to seek immediate psychiatric care, especially those who have suicidal ideation or tend to injure themselves. The latter can be common in parasitic delusions, as has been reported in people with Ekbom syndrome.

Tips for Coping with Morgellons Disease

Here are some practical tips so you can apply before, during and after the diagnosis.

1. Seek professional care

Due to the effect it has on quality of life and the strange nature of the symptoms, family members and closest friends may think this is an exaggeration. In these cases, support from a psychotherapist (psychologist or psychiatrist) can provide great relief.

The therapy options are very varied and include hypnosis. An article published in 2011 demonstrated the effectiveness of the method. While there is much controversy regarding the clinical benefits of this technique, there are myths and realities that continue to be studied.

2. Communicate your concerns to your loved ones

Sometimes, the simple act of draining feelings and thoughts with close people can significantly improve symptoms. It is one of the principles under which psychotherapy is carried out, despite the fact that someone outside the patient's daily life participates in the latter.

There are many ways to help and they don't represent a great effort. Some of them are the following:

  • Deep and frequent conversations about the patient's problems, taking care not to saturate with negative thoughts.
  • Common entertainment methods, such as watching a movie or going for a walk in the park.
  • Do sport or exercise occasionally.

Keep reading: Strengthen family relationships

3. Get informed, but without excesses

There are quite a few resources related to Morgellons disease on the internet. Many of them have to do with possible explanations for the origin of the condition.

While the constant reading of this information could be enriching for some people, in others it can cause frustration and anxiety, especially when it comes to scientific articles with difficult to understand terms.

It is advisable to seek professional help that allows adequate guidance on the disease. Being a multifactorial condition there is no medical specialty dedicated to it. However, multiple professionals can provide support, especially dermatologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and family doctors.

Online information about pathologies can generate anxiety if it is not well oriented and supported by reliable sources.

4. Be patient

It is very likely that, depending on the specialist you want to consult, there are very different recommendations. Some of them will indicate medical treatments with the certainty that it is an infection, while others will prefer to opt for psychotherapy for the management of mental symptoms.

This lack of unified criteria can lead to a lot of frustration. It is important to work with patience and understand that clinical improvement can only be obtained by having an open mind and accepting various therapeutic modalities, as long as they are scientifically supported.

Morgellons disease is not yet deciphered

Suffering from Morgellons disease can lead to serious anxiety and depression problems. Seeing a mental health specialist, even though it is not proven that it is a psychiatric problem, could provide excellent results.

Remember that we are facing a disorder that has not been completely deciphered, so it is logical to expect different approaches in different areas and in front of specialists who do not have the same gaze. The important thing is to start the path of therapy.