Morgellons disease (MD) is a disorder characterized by the presence of fibers underneath, embedded in, and erupting from unbroken skin or sores that are slow-healing. Individuals with this rare condition experience a sensation of crawling, biting, and stinging on and in their skin.
The most common symptoms of MD are the presence of small, white, red, blue, or black fibers under the skin. People with MD report experiencing the sensation that something is crawling under the skin, and sometimes, the feeling that something stung or bit them.
Other symptoms of MD are similar to those of Lyme disease, which include fatigue, itching, joint aches and pains, loss of short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, depression, and insomnia.
Who Gets It
According to the Morgellons Research Foundation, more than 14,000 families are affected by MD. Meanwhile, a study from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention found that this condition is often seen in white, middle-aged women and those with a higher risk for MD are individuals with Lyme disease, those who have been exposed to ticks, those who have blood tests that indicate that they were bitten by a tick, and those who have hypothyroidism.
The appropriate treatment for MD is not yet clear, but doctors say that there are two main treatment approaches based on the cause. Doctors who think that MD is caused by infection may prescribe antibiotics for a long time to kill bacteria and allow the skin sores to heal. For doctors who think that the condition is caused by a mental health problem, they may be treated with psychiatric medications or psychotherapy alone.
Can MD Cause Complications?
Repeated scratching or picking at the sores, scabs, crawling skin, or erupting fibers, can cause bigger wounds that may become infected. If the infection moves to the bloodstream, it can cause sepsis, a dangerous infection that requires strong antibiotics.
Coping with MD
People with MD who worry that others may think that the symptoms are all in their head, can leave them feeling afraid, frustrated, helpless, confused, or even depressed. This could lead to less socializing with friends and family. Using resources such as support groups can help them cope with these issues if they occur. Support groups can help provide accurate information about current research on the condition, and how to manage it.