Morgellons syndrome: symptoms, treatment and theories behind it

In 2001, Mary Leitao, biologist and mother of a 7 year old boy. He discovered that his son had peculiar sores on his skin in which strange fibers of unknown origin could be seen. After a tireless search for unresolved diagnoses and answers, she herself called this condition Morgellons syndrome.

Morgellons syndrome is a mysterious and very controversial disease, For which today no answer has been found approved by the entire scientific community, and around which circulate all kinds of both scientific and conspiratorial theories.

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What is Morgellons Syndrome?

Morgellons syndrome or disease is a strange conditionThe name was coined relatively recently, in which the affected person suffers from a series of delusions in which they are believed to be contaminated with infectious pathogens. These items can be insects, parasites or a series of strange fibers that claim to have under the skin.

These delusions may be reinforced by the fact that in some cases they have been observed a series of strange fibers present in skin lesions caused by the same person.

Self-harm is common in Morgellons patients, who show a constant obsession with scratching or even gnawing at their skin with the intention of relieving the tingling or itchy sensations they report.

Morgellons syndrome has turned out to be a disease surrounded by controversy and discussion within the medical and scientific community. The reason is that part of this community distinguishes it as a new disease with its own symptoms, while others consider it a new type of manifestation of a disorder already known, dermatozoic parasitic delirium.

The mystery and controversy surrounding Morgellons syndrome are such that conspiracy theories have grown up around it, which describe it as a disease caused by governments themselves or businesses through the use of nanotechnology. Which, according to them, would explain the appearance of fibers under the skin and the constant tingling.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Since, at this time, Morgellons syndrome is not accepted as a delineated disease, there is no record of its symptoms, nor the guidelines were also not developed to be able to make a differential diagnosis agreed to that.

According to the Morgellons Research Foundation (MRF), the list of symptoms may include:

  • Constant stinging, itching or itching sensation on the skin which is irritating to the person.
  • Rashes and wounds that don’t heal correctly.
  • Appearance of some kind of fibers or threads, of unknown cause, on the skin which may also appear underneath or on skin lesions.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Cognitive deficits such as a lack of concentration or memory loss.

Symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, symptoms of depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have also been reported in a large number of patients with this rare disease.

    Possible causes of the syndrome

    Given the great disagreement and little research that exists around Morgellons syndrome, a number of hypotheses and theories have been established as to its origin. Some of them are based on possible skin diseases, while others are based on the effect of certain bacteria or toxins on humans.

    1. Dermatozoic parasitic delirium and other neurological disorders

    As discussed above, part of the scientific community, including dermatologists and psychiatrists, regard Morgellons syndrome as a new version of the already known dermatozoic parasitic delirium, also known as infestation delirium. According to psychiatric diagnostic manuals, these disorders are included in the category “delusional disorders not specified”.

    Likewise, the scientific community claims that people with Morgellons syndrome are characterized by symptoms very similar to those of dermatozoic parasitic delirium, which is why most of them are diagnosed as such.

    This parasitic delirium is distinguished by the accusation in people who suffer from it, the delusional belief that they are infested with all kinds of bacteria or parasitic agents, that cause them that tingling and itchy sensation under the skin.

    Patients affected by this disorder may develop self-harm or self-harm, that they perform to “pull” or remove these parasites from their bodies. As a result of this obsession, patients sink deeper into their wounds, preventing them from healing.

    In some cases of parasitic delirium, the cause of the delirium is found in certain allergies, skin carcinomas, shingles or even in some women in the menopausal phase. In which the skin sensations are real, but the attribution that the subjects give to it is irrational.

    2. Skin conditions

    Other hypotheses by which we try to find the cause in the Morgellons aim that the basis of this alteration is in certain skin disorders such as allergic dermatitis, Contact dermatitis or scabies, also known as scabies.

    As in the previous point, the person feels a real itch on the skin, but maintains the delusional belief that it is not a skin disease, but is infected with parasites.

    3. Bacterial hypothesis

    In a 2006m study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, it was claimed that Morgellons disease it could be linked to an undefined infectious process. They also testified that in many patients with Morgellons syndrome, the same bacteria that caused Lyme disease had been found.

    The following year, the same researchers claimed that the fibers found in the patients’ skin lesions contained cellulose, while a more detailed analysis of these fibers revealed the appearance of a bacteria called Agrobacterium. This pathogen originates from the plant world and is known to give rise to a number of cellulose fibers in the plants that it infects. If this theory were true, Morgellons syndrome would be the first case in which a bacteria from the plant world affects humans.


      In most cases, Morgellons syndrome shares the same treatment as parasitic delusions, as many professionals consider it to be.

      After a medical examination to rule out organic causes, a number of typical antipsychotics are given, Such as olanzapine and risperidone.

      Because many patients reject the diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, they oppose psychiatric treatment. So, based on the theories of infectious agents and bacteria, many patients are treated with antibiotics or antiparasitics; which would act in patients by the placebo effect.

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