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Morgellons Disease – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on August 18, 2014

Morgellons disease is an enigmatic skin disorder which causes non-healing lesions and sores that lead to deformities. Patients may also experience varied sensations such as creeping, biting, crawling, and stinging on or below the skin.

It is important to note that there is no validated medical definition of Morgellons disease. Despite the absence of a medically ratified diagnostic procedure, the CDC in the US is checking up on the causes and other varied aspects of the condition. Morgellons disease is currently referred as unexplained dermopathy by the CDC.

History of Morgellons Disease

Morgellons disease initially received attention after Mary Leitao, a resident of Pittsburg, described on her website a skin condition that her son was experiencing. She blogged about the presence of skin sores and thin filamentous growths on her son’s skin. She soon started getting emails from numerous individuals who had been afflicted with similar symptoms.

The occurrence of so many cases of the disease led to the establishment of the Morgellons Research Foundation, which subsequently lobbied with the government to conduct research on the skin disorder.

Mary Leitao was responsible for coming up with the name, i.e. Morgellons disease. She got her inspiration from some 17th century doctors in France who had noticed similar signs and symptoms in children.

Symptoms of Morgellons Disease

As Morgellons disease is not a ratified medical disease, there are no readily acceptable signs and symptoms. Doctors term the symptoms as delusions and an aspect of some psychiatric condition.

As per Morgellons Research Foundation, common symptoms include:

  • Occurrence of skin lesions. They may form spontaneously, or may develop due to scratching to alleviate itchiness or skin pain. The former may appear as hives or pimples without a whitened center, while the self-induced lesions may be linear or look like skin damage arising due to skin ‘picking.’ The lesions may deteriorate to slow-healing open wounds, which may either cause elevated pigmentation or crust up with a thickened, gelatinous upper layer. The lesions may persevere for many years.
  • The skin lesions may grow visible fiber-like filaments, or a patient may only experience them. Occasionally, even intact and normal skin may exhibit the growth of such filaments. These filamentous fibers are commonly reddish, bluish, blackish, or white. They are very tiny and typically need a high-end microscope for clinical investigation. Some affected individuals may also elicit the occurrence of blackish or whitish sand-like granules, on or within the skin, or on apparels.
  • Patients may also report abnormal motion sensations on or below the surface of the skin. Such sensations are sporadic and typically identified as crawling, stinging, biting, or moving. They can occur throughout the body, but are usually restricted to the face, nasal pathways, scalp, the area below the knees, and the ear canals.
  • Pain and other musculoskeletal anomalies can be noticed in varied ways. The pain may be present across a large section of the body, including the joints, muscles, connective tissues, and tendons. Vascular-type and pressure-originated headaches as well as vertebral pain are quite common. The vertebrae and both the discs may also experience premature degeneration.
  • Cognitive malfunction and deficits may be visible. Patients may experience impaired processing of the frontal lobe signals leading to compromised logical thinking, attention problems, and short-term memory deficiencies. It is possible to psychologically measure all such cognition problems.
  • Widely prevalent aerobic limitation that is substantial enough to impede daily life activities. Most patients elicit elevated fatigue and will pass the Fukuda Criteria for CFS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Presence of regular high heart rates and other cardiology information of patients also indicate an underlying case of chronic myocarditis leading to reduced cardiac output.
  • Most patients also suffer from deficiencies and changes in emotional effects. Such impairment can be mild or extreme enough to severely impede daily life. Patients may experience sporadic obsession-filled states, and/or partial or complete lack of boundary control.
  • Many and varied neurological anomalies like abnormal reflexes, peripheral neuropathy, and recurrent abnormalities of brain functions that regulate motor control, circadian rhythm, and respiratory rate, etc.
  • Ever-altering, chronic vision abnormalities. For example, need to frequently change prescription glasses, changes in perception of light intensity and visual field, etc.
  • Occurrence of the symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions, like changes in bowel habits, gastroesophageal reflux, swallowing difficulties, etc.

Causes of Morgellons Disease

Currently, Morgellons disease has no known medically verified and accepted causes.

  • A majority of Morgellons disease symptoms are said to be a part of a delusional condition called delusional parasitosis.
  • As per the data currently present, varied research teams are studying Morgellons disease to find out its causes. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the main proponent of such research.

Treatment of Morgellons Disease

  • Currently, Morgellons disease has no known cure or treatment options.
  • Affected individuals are treated as patients of delusional parasitosis.
  • Other accompanying symptoms are treated as per the diagnosis.

Doctors strongly recommend patients of Morgellons disease to seek medical attention for alleviation of all the abnormal symptoms, as and when they arise.

Morgellons Disease


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