Ever since its introduction back in 2001, Morgellons has been a contentious subject for the medical world at large. Part of this controversy has to do with the way it was discovered and named; a woman named Mary Leitao initially recognised the bizarre and unique symptoms in her youngest son. When she searched for answers, she was met with a wall of disbelief, and accusations of psychiatric disorders. Yet Leitao persevered, and eventually took matters into her own hands by giving her son’s condition a name which she took from a 17th century medical case history essay by Sir Thomas Browne: Morgellons.
Unfortunately, this strange disorder is only a little better understood in 2018 than it was in 2001. While aspects of the medical community have accepted Morgellons as a legitimate disease, and prominent public figures such as Joni Mitchell have come forward saying they suffer from it, it is still for all intents and purposes considered an outlier condition that has its roots in psychological illness rather than a physical one. Despite this continued pushback from certain medical circles, research on Morgellons has continued to advance throughout the years, making it possible for patients to find some sort on consolation in the midst of their unexplained and debilitating disorder.
Morgellons has recently been linked to Lyme Disease, a confusing and often misunderstood condition in itself that affects the body in a variety of ways. Acute Lyme is very treatable and comes with a set of specific symptoms; the problems arise when the disease moves to chronic stages. Morgellons is now thought to be a potential symptom of chronic Lyme, and as such it is being tackled as part of that disorder. Make Well have been helping Lyme patients fight back against the disease with their range of all-natural supplements, and have recently introduced their new product, MRG Derm, which can help with the skin lesions known to occur in Morgellons patients. In addition, the Charles E. Holman Foundation, currently the only patient organisation for Morgellons, provides grassroots support for research, education, awareness into the disorder, actively seeking a definitive cause and cure.
But what exactly are the main symptoms of Morgellons, and how do you identify if you might be suffering from it or not? Fortunately, the symptoms are pretty distinctive when it comes to this controversial disorder, so keeping track of them is not too hard.
1 - Rashes and Lesions
The primary Morgellons symptom is the appearance of rashes or lesions across certain areas of the body. This was the first sign of the disease that Mary Leitao spotted on her young son, and continues to be one of the most consistent manifestations of the disorder in the time since. The lesions and rashes can be quite aggressive, and can appear at any site on the body, sometimes covering the entire surface area.
2 - Presence of Fibres
By far the most distinctive and bizarre symptom of Morgellons is the appearance of thread-like fibres, which are usually white, blue, black or red in colour, and appear to protrude from the skin. In particular, these fibres seem to appear within the rashes and lesions sometimes just under the inflamed area, and sometimes protruding from it. To date, there has been no rational explanation for the appearance of these strange fibres; sceptics have argued that they are leftover fabric from clothing or bandages, but a thorough examination of these fibres quickly reveals this is not consistently the case.
3 - Intense Itching
The rashes and lesions are usually accompanied by sensations of intense itching. This leads patients to scratch obsessively at the rashes, which in turn leads to them becoming more irritated and inflamed, and therefore more itchy. It’s a vicious circle which many patients find it very hard to escape from.
4 - Crawling Sensations Under the Skin
One of the most controversial symptoms of Morgellons is the sensation of something crawling under a patient’s skin. This is a contentious point, because there is a verified psychological condition, known as delusional parasitosis, which makes people believe something is moving around directly under their skin. Morgellons is often confused and conflated with this disorder, as all the other symptoms (bar the inexplicable fibres) can be explained away as psychological manifestations. However, Morgellons is not a psychological disorder; it may bring about psychiatric side effects like depression or anxiety, but the root cause is a genuine physical complaint.
5 - Difficulty Concentrating and Memory Loss
Many patients report clouded thinking or short-term memory loss in conjunction with the physical symptoms. These cognitive symptoms can be extremely unnerving for people already dealing with a frightening and bizarre disease, but it’s important to bear in mind they are also a generic symptom for many other disorders. Taken on their own, they are not immediately indicative of Morgellons.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about Morgellons. But with both Make Well and the Charles E. Holman Foundation committing themselves to combating this unique and troublesome disease, the future for patients, many of whom are routinely frustrated and stonewalled by traditional medical avenues, certainly looks a little brighter.