Here’s a fascinating article from India:

A study of skin disorders in patients with primary psychiatric conditions.

Which neatly goes over a “mixed variety of physical and mental illnesses”.

Only 2% were diagnosed with DOP, and less than 5% of the skin disorders were psychogenic.

Now, I don’t think this group is at all representative of the people who claim to have Morgellons, since it’s a sample of people who have a primary psychiatric condition. But the varied nature of the study group is probably representative of the mixed variety of Morgellons sufferers.

Here’s a nice quote:

“The skin occupies a powerful position as an organ of communication and plays an important role in socialization throughout life. The interface between dermatology and psychiatry is complex and of clinical importance”

The following Q&A is aimed at addressing some of the misconceptions regarding Morgellons that have been propagated in various media articles.

(Note: This will be a work in progress – please email me suggestions and corrections at Morgellonswatch@gmail.com)

Q) What is Morgellons Disease?
A) Morgellons is an proposed disease, unrecognized by doctors, promoted and self-diagnosed via the internet. People claiming to have Morgellons have widely differing symptoms, the most common of which is they feel they have been misdiagnosed by their doctors. Supporters claim the most notable feature is fibers emerging from the skin, yet everyone has fibers on their skin.

Q) Is Morgellons a real disease?
A) Not by conventional medical standards. The offered case definition is very long, and very vague. It fits a very large number of existing diseases, and simply suggest co-morbidity of a variety of conditions such as eczema, chronic fatigue and anxiety disorders. The “evidence” for Morgellons is entirely anecdotal.

Q) What is the History of Morgellons?
A) Morgellons was first proposed in 2002 by Mary Leitao, to explain her 3-year old son’s eczema. Leitao looked at her son’s skin under a microscope and found fibers on it, and decided she had discovered a new disease characterized by fibers emerging from lesions, and started a foundation. Her son’s eczema cleared up naturally. His symptoms did not include those of the more recent claims of Morgellons. The list of symptoms has rapidly expanded as more people registered. Leitao encouraged people to seek out fibers in their lesions. The idea of Morgellons was spread over the internet.

Q) Are the most cases in California, Texas and Florida?
A) Yes, because that’s where the most people are, those states have the highest populations. Morgellons is a self-diagnosed disease. People “register” over the internet by filling out a simple form on Morgellons.org.

Q) Who is Ginger Savely?
A) Ginger Savely is a nurse practitioner who was unable to find a doctor in Texas to supervise her practice, due to her unorthodox and possibly dangerous treatment of Lyme disease patients. She gives similar treatments to self-diagnosed Morgellons suffers. She is a member of the Morgellons Research Foundation, and co-authored an article on it with Leitao. She is active in the Media campaign, and is seeking new patients. She makes a living from selling her unorthodox treatments.

Q) Have researchers determined the fibers are not environmental?
A) No. Randy Wymore is the director of Research at Leitao’s MRF. He works on a volunteer basis using the facilities of OSU. He has been examining fibers sent (often anonymously) to him. Many fibers he would discard as environmental, but there were a few he could not identify. Not being able to identify a fiber is not the same as proving it is not environmental. Fibers go unidentified all the time in forensic cases. To prove it was not environmental, you would need to prove it was generated inside the body. This has not been done.

Q) Do most doctors dismiss Morgellons Sufferers as having Delusions of Parasitosis?
A) No. There are a wide range of things going on here. Doctors understand that people might mistakenly think fibers found on their skin are connected to their disease, without the patient being delusional. If a patient has lesions or itching, then there are a vast range of possible causes for this, and doctors would attempt to diagnose and treat them. Delusions would be diagnosed if the patient claims to see things that are not there. There are some people who are clearly delusional and who are highly resistant to any hint of a psychiatric diagnosis. These people are likely to latch onto anything they feel explains their symptoms.

Q) Do people “sweat black tar“?
A) No. Again this is based on one statement, and was then picked up by the media. This time Savely was quoted as saying: “These people will have like beads of sweat but it’s black and tarry“. She was probably referring to what other people call “black specks” (dried blood, necrotic tissue, or blackheads). The imagery was just to vivid for the press to pass up.

Q) Does Morgellons cause muscle twitching?
A) No. It’s not a real disease, but the list of supposed symptoms was extended to include “uncontrollable muscle twitching” after a report (May 2006) that former Oakland A’s pitcher Billy Koch has Morgellons. The extensive Morgellons Research Foundation’s “Case Definition“, written (Feb 14 2006) a few months before the Koch report, does not mention muscle twitching even as a secondary symptom.

Q) Is it odd that some fiber analysis shows some fibers to be made of cellulose, a molecule generally found in plants?
A) No, far from it. Cellulose is what the majority of environmental fibers are made from. Paper, tissues, cotton, q-tips, linen, ramie, rayon, tencel and lyocell are all made from nearly pure cellulose.

Q) Is it true that “Dermatologists claimed the filaments were all delusions, although none had studied them“?
A) No. Dermatologists often look at samples that patients bring in, in order to eliminate the possibility of parasitic infestation such as follicle mites, scabies or lice. Filaments themselves are not delusions, they are physical objects.

Q) Where do the Morgellons sufferers on TV come from, if this is not real?
A) From the internet. The TV report have been orchestrated by Ken Cowles, the MRF director of media relations. He seeks out people in the local area who have registered with the MRF, and sets up interviews, and supplies photographs and video. The people featured are often active in promoting Morgellons on internet message boards. For example, the Alabama WKRG report featured the family of Leigh Ann Cofield, very active on the Lymebusters forum

The more you look at Neurotic Excoriations, the more it seems to match some of the Morgellons sufferers you see on television.

From stopicking.com

Neurotic excoriations refers to the uncontrollable urge to pick and dig at the skin. This urge may be unconscious or may be deliberate in the belief that it corrects some minor abnormality or surface irregularity of the skin. The picking creates more pronounced abnormalities so that a vicious cycle is started. It involves picking, digging or scraping at the skin persistently often until what is described as a “thread” can be pulled from the skin. Many old scars, which can be disfiguring, are visible near areas of active picking. These pickers usually are middle-aged adults and may be depressed, anxious or obsessive-compulsive. Women are more likely to be affected than men.

From EMedicine.com

Patients pick at areas until they can pull material from the skin. This may be referred to as “pulling a thread from the skin.”

Closely related to Neurotic Excoriation is Compulsive Skin Picking

From Wikipedia

It has been seen in psychoses of many people the ‘creation’ of foreign objects to satisfy the need to pick or damage one’s own skin. Many psychiatrists have studied this and found the only real cure is to immobilize the offending object (hands, etc.). The most success has been seen with protective casts to make the picking impossible. In these test cases the skin healed almost immediately, with outbreaks not recurring until the casts were removed.

Again, I come back to the “Delusions of Parasitosis”. I think it’s a major mistake to automatically equate Morgellons with Delusions of Parasitosis. Each case should be looked at individually, and in many cases a diagnosis of Neurotic Excoriation, or Compulsive Skin Picking, is more appropriate.

Fibers are not imagined parasites, they are just fibers found on the skin, and mistakenly though to be part of a disease.

I was looking at this KTUV video, and one thing that struck me was the similarity of the lesions on the afflicted people. They were very similar to the ones on WKRG Alabama. What do these people have in common?

Here’s a picture of the lesions.

eczema_neuroticexcor.jpg

Actually, I fib. The above picture is of lesions from someone suffering from what is termed Neurotic Excoriation, related to Dermiatitis artefacta.

The picture comes from the web site Dermnet, which has a fascinating (and sometimes disturbing) comprehensive photographic overview of what might go wrong with your skin. The eczema collection alone is quite amazing, and that’s where we find Neurotic Excoriations.

untitled-8.jpg

The above photo is taken from the WKRG Alabama video.

So, my actual point here is that Morgellons is not Delusions of Parasitosis, at least not always. Based on the what I’ve seen, I think it often can be one of any number of skin conditions, compounded with simply mistaking environmental fibers as being fibers emerging from the skin. Delusions are not necessary, just a mistake.

Sure, delusions may be present in some people. But I think a lot of people are quite reasonably minded, and simply found a few ordinary fibers, and then were fooled by the web and media reports into thinking that this was a genuine symptom of their problem.

The sad thing is, this hurts them two ways. Firstly, hurried doctors diagnose them as delusional, and secondly they diagnose themselves as having “Morgellons”, in both ways depriving them of appropriate medical care.

If you think you have Morgellons, perhaps you should browse though Dermnet first, just to get an idea of the range of possibilities.

Ginger Savely participated in a “live chat” today.

I’ll quote a few bits:

Ginger Savely: There is no one treatment that works for all. I tell my patients
that they are all “lab rats” because this is all experimentation. I give a
combination of antibiotics (sulfa drugs, Biaxin, Cipro, Doxy are some),
antifungals (fluconazole) and antiparasitics (like ebendazole, Stromectol or
Prazequantil).

Lab rats huh, you are experimenting on your patients (see later)?

Question from Michael in Los Angeles, CA: Nurse Savely, it is often mentioned
that the highest number of cases of Morgellons are in Texas, California and
Florida. Is it not the case that these three states simply have the highest
populations of all the 50 states, and that Morgellons is actually evenly spread
over the country?

Ginger Savely: Good question. However, there is a
higher PERCENTAGE of the population of those 3 states that are reported cases.
So it is not just simply the quantity from each state, but also the higher
percentage of the total population from each state.

Not true. According to the USP database, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Vermont all have a much higher percentage than California. Still, the USP sample size is small, so I’d like to see some figures from the MRF. Remember however, it’s a self reported survey, not very accurate either way.

Ginger Savely: I no longer have a practice in Texas, unfortunately. The heat
from the Texas Medical Board was too much for me here. So I have transferred my
practice to San Francisco, CA. California is a more liberal, open-minded state!
Patients who want to see me in San Francisco need to send an email to
lymesf@gmail.com asking for a new patient packet. If you have a sympathetic
local doctor you can ask him/her to contact me directly for suggestions

So, kicked out of Texas, and trying to drum up business in SF. These TV spots make for great infomercials eh?

Ginger Savely: I’m not sure but I do know that in general the medical
establishment tends to be very conservative and cautious. There is a big move in
medicine towards what is known as “evidenced based medicine”. In other words,
unless there is hard-core science behind something doctors won’t touch it

What, “evidence based medicine” is wrong? Hard-core science is bad? If you can’t figure out what is wrong with someone, then just dose them with massive amounts of antibiotics, antifungals and anti-parasitic drugs.

Ginger Savely: Yes, Rife machines are sometimes used and in approximately 30
percent of cases it helps.

Rife machines!!? Are you kidding? Better watch out for the FDA

Ginger Savely: It would be unethical to do a double blind placebo controlled
study at this stage, with so many people suffering. We just try each treatment
on each patient until we find something that works for THEM. What works for one,
doesn’t seem to work for another. This is puzzling. But right now, it is all
about getting these people better and ending or at least lightening their
extreme suffering.

Ah yes, unethical to do any kind of study. What if placebo were the most effective treatment? Are you perhaps even keeping records? Any statistics at all?

© 2012 Morgellons Watch Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha