What do researchers know about Morgellons disease?
A possible link between Morgellons and infection with Borrelia spirochetes has been suggested by one group of researchers. Three in the group are affiliated with the Morgellons Disease Foundation.
In an earlier study, researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that Morgellons disease, which they refer to as an unexplained dermopathy, isn't caused by an infection or parasites. They studied samples of skin, blood, urine and hair.
Further research is needed to determine whether Morgellons is a new disorder and, if so, to develop diagnostic criteria.
A contested diagnosis
Attitudes toward Morgellons disease fall into various categories:
- Some health professionals believe that Morgellons disease is a specific condition that needs to be confirmed by research.
- Some health professionals believe that signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease are caused by another condition, often mental illness.
- Other health professionals don't acknowledge Morgellons disease or are reserving judgment until more is known about the condition.
Some people who suspect they have Morgellons disease claim they've been ignored or dismissed as fakers. In contrast, some doctors say that people who report signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease typically resist other explanations for their condition.
Coping with Morgellons disease
The signs and symptoms linked to Morgellons disease can be distressing. Even though health professionals may disagree about the nature of the condition, you deserve compassionate treatment. To manage your signs and symptoms:
April 01, 2015
- Establish a caring health care team. Find a doctor who acknowledges your concerns, does a thorough examination and talks through treatment options with you.
- Be patient. Your doctor will likely look for known conditions that point to evidence-based treatments before considering a diagnosis of Morgellons disease.
- Keep an open mind. Consider various causes for your signs and symptoms and discuss your doctor's recommendations for treatment — which may include long-term mental health therapy.
- Seek treatment for other conditions. Get treatment for anxiety, depression or any other condition that affects your thinking, moods or behavior.
- Pearson ML, et al. Clinical epidemiologic, histopathologic and molecular features of an unexplained dermopathy. PLoS ONE. 2012;7:e29908.
- Suh KN, et al. Delusional parasitosis: Epidemiology, clinical presentation, assessment and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index. Accessed Feb. 18, 2015.
- CDC study of an unexplained dermopathy: Questions and answers. http://www.cdc.gov/unexplaineddermopathy/qa.html. Accessed Feb. 18, 2015.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 19, 2015.
- O'Callaghan D, et al. A case series review of an unexplained dermopathy, commonly known as Morgellon's disease. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2014;70:AB34 (suppl 1).
- Middelveen MJ, et al. Characterization and evaluation of dermal filaments from patients with Morgellons disease. Clinical, Cosmetic Investigational Dermatology. 2013;6:1.
- Middelveen MJ, et al. Exploring the association between Morgellons disease and Lyme disease: Identification of Borrelia burgdorferi in Morgellons disease patients. BMC Dermatology. 2015;15:1. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-5945/15/1. Accessed Feb. 24, 2015.
- Soderfeldt Y, et al. Information, consent and treatment of patients with Morgellons disease: An ethical perspective. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2014;15:71.