Morgellons has long been a controversial subject. Sufferers say they experience skin eruptions with bugs, worms, eggs, splinters and fibres invading their skin however, these same sufferers often pass a clean bill of health.
A study about the disease, which has long plagued the medical world, has been carried out by Mayo Clinic.
Dermatology professor Mark D. Davis M.D. During the study, researchers took skin samples from 108 patients convinced that their skin was infested with a variety of bugs, worms and germs. However, of the 108 patients only 1 case was found to have a possible infestation. The single case was found to be based on non-psychological pathology with a possible infestation being a pubic louse. The other tests turned up no sign of infection and were deemed to be suffering from delusional parasitosis.
Davis concluded: “This study indicates that even when skin biopsies are obtained and specimens of the organisms brought by the patients are carefully examined, there is no objective evidence of skin infestation.”
So does this study explain why thousands of people worldwide are said to be afflicted with the disease? Professor Davis reasons the continuation of the disease; “Patients often complain that the physician isn’t examining their skin closely enough to see the infesting organisms.” He further cautions other medical professionals not to dismiss complaints of morgellons and to do a thorough exam even if they suspect the presence of a delusional infestation.
Dr Anne Louise Oaklander an associate professor at Harvard Medical School has studied the phenomenon and says; “In my experience, morgellons patients are doing the best they can to make sense of symptoms that are real. They’re suffering from a chronic itch disorder that’s undiagnosed. They have been maltreated by the medical establishment.” She further goes on to categorises the disease as a nerve problem similar to how the feeling of a small insect on your skin can trigger a neurological alarm system. She concludes by surmising, although some morgellons sufferers may be suffering from an undiagnosed neuropathic illness in their delusions, in other cases “dermatologists fail to find an explanation and jump to a psychiatric one.”
Plastic Surgeon Dr. Susan Kolb has compiled an extensive list of treatments that have helped ease the suffering for morgellons patients.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has been researching delusional infestations, which it labels “unexplained dermopathy”, and they have so far classified it as “an unexplained and debilitating illness of unknown cause.”
Dr. Davis, author of the study, is trying to reach medical professionals to stress the importance of a physical exam even if they suspect the patient is suffering from a delusional infestation but isn’t positive.
So, even after extensive research and clinical studies there is no definitive diagnosis and sufferers cannot point to a satisfactory conclusion as to what is at the root of the affliction. The medical world is well and truly polarised when it comes to the study, research, diagnosis and even the very existence of morgellons.
To read the full study please refer to the Archives of Dermatology May 16th 2011.