Morgellons Disease: The unexplained Skin Condition
Morgellons Disease is an unexplained dermopathy. The disease name was given by the mother whose child fell ill in 2002 with numerous symptoms that could not be categorized into a known disease. One of the “defining” characteristics is the physical presence of small diameter “filaments” which protrude from painful skin lesions.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not know the cause of this condition nor whether this condition is new. In an effort to learn more about this condition, the CDC is conducting an epidemiologic investigation using Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Division of Research to assist CDC in the investigation of this condition. The study began in January 2008 and is ongoing.
The primary goals of the investigation are to help us learn more about who may be affected with Morgellons Disease, the symptoms they experience, and to generate hypotheses about factors that may contribute to it. The investigation will involve: determining the clinical and epidemiologic features of this condition; assessing the histopathology of skin biopsies from affected patients; characterizing foreign material such as fibers or threads obtained from persons with the condition; and estimating rates of illness among the study population.
Those who have the unexplained dermopathy report a range of cutaneous (skin) symptoms include
1. “Filaments” -- in and on skin lesions; white, blue, red, and black in colors; near microscopic in size.
2. Movement sensations -- often described by the patient as intermittently moving, stinging or biting.
3. Skin lesions -- may appear as “hive-like”, or as “pimple-like” with or without a white center or appear as linear or “picking” excoriations.
As pointed out by the Morgellons Disease Foundation, these three symptoms parallel a psychiatric diagnosis -- Delusions of Parasitosis (DP). However, there is reported laboratory evidence of the actual fibers which proves they aren’t imagined.
Other symptoms reported with Morgellons Disease include fatigue, mental confusion, short term memory loss, joint pain, and changes in vision.