Can A Skin Biopsy Diagnose Morgellons Disease?

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Morgellons disease is a controversial skin condition, and the search for the true cause has stumped the medical community worldwide. No medical researcher has been able to find scientific evidence of where the disease’s tell-tale signs originate. It has led to a divide in the medical community’s stance on the disease, right down to the most basic facts – like whether the illness is physical or, in fact, mental. People living with Morgellons disease may report side effects that impact them mentally, but for these patients, the physical symptoms are also very real. In fact, people believing they have Morgellons disease may have trouble finding a practitioner to diagnose and treat them because of how little is known about the causes and cures. However, there are symptoms of Morgellons disease that are very unique and have been similarly reported worldwide, so the question of how Morgellons is diagnosed is certainly a topic worth exploring. The mysterious symptoms provide us with a definitive jumping-off points to launch an exploration.


Morgellons Disease: Key Characteristics

Morgellons disease is characterised by itchy skin, and many people living with Morgellons disease report feeling as if there are insects crawling or stinging them from underneath their skin. Another key characteristic is the protrusion of what is described as fibres or threads, which sometimes emerge from unbroken skin. At other times, the fibres emerge from sores or lesions on the Morgellons sufferer’s body. Several colours have been reported, from black to red, white or blue. Other symptoms, on the other hand, are immaterial. When doctors consider how to diagnose Morgellons disease, they’d be wise to involve a patient’s mental health in their overall analysis. Depression, fatigue and confusion often accompany the physical symptoms of patients. Quite understandably, the search for answers to exactly what causes this painful skin ailment can leave patients feeling desperate and isolated.


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Image by Creators Collective on Unsplash: How to diagnose Morgellons disease is still undiscovered. But since it’s the go-to test for so many other skin conditions, can a biopsy diagnose Morgellons?


Fibres, Skin and Morgellons Disease Diagnosis

The fibres that patients with Morgellons disease report finding in their skin is the biggest piece of the unexplained Morgellons puzzle. An in-depth study was conducted in 2006 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after an increasing number of people, including a paediatrician from Florida, reported symptoms of Morgellons disease. Unfortunately for people living with the illness and their doctors and caregivers alike, the research didn’t leave the medical community with any concrete ways to diagnose Morgellons disease, let alone cure it. So, if we don’t know where they’re coming from, what have we learned about what the fibres that define Morgellons disease are made of?

According to a 2016 study from the International Journal of General Medicine, the fibres, or filaments, are composed of keratin and collagen. Keratin is a fibrous structural protein found in human nails, skin and hair. Collagen, which is often considered beneficial to maintaining healthy skin, is a naturally occurring substance in most mammals. The consensus? Nothing particularly alarming or unusual has been found in the fibres growing out of a patient’s skin. It seems the strange filaments growing from painful sores are not composed of anything that researchers wouldn’t expect to see in a normally occurring, run-of-the mill hair.


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Image by EVG photos on Pexels: After pressure from American patients in the early 2000s, doctors struggled to answer one simple question: what is Morgellons disease?


Can a Skin Biopsy Diagnose Morgellons Disease?

A skin biopsy is a common practice that can be used to diagnose all types of dermal maladies. Usually performed by a dermatologist, it involves taking a sample of a growth on the skin for the purposes of conducting lab tests and search for the cause of the growth. Skin cells can tell us a lot about a person’s health. They reveal what pathogens may be living on the skin or below its surface, and biopsies can help catch potentially fatal illnesses like cancer if they’re done at critical junctures. It’s not uncommon for dermatologists to want to take a closer look with a skin biopsy if there is a mysterious lesion or irritation present on a patient.

Sadly, the confusion surrounding the cause and diagnosis of Morgellons disease often leaves everyone involved with more questions than answers, and many patients suffering from Morgellons in need of treatment. Nevertheless, experts are getting more and more alert about Morgellons, starting investigations and looking for treatment options. This may be underpinned by rising numbers of participants in conferences regarding both the US and Europe.

Featured image by Lucas Vasques on Unsplash