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Morgellons disease: Analysis of a population with clinically confirmed microscopic subcutaneous fibers of unknown etiology.

Savely VR, Stricker RB - Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol (2010)

Bottom Line: The prevalence of symptoms common to the fiber group was then compared with the prevalence of these symptoms in patients with Lyme disease and no complaints of skin fibers.Although depression was noted in 29% of the fiber patients, pre-existing delusional disease was not reported.After adjusting for nonspecific symptoms, the most common symptoms reported in the fiber group were: crawling sensations under the skin; spontaneously appearing, slow-healing lesions; hyperpigmented scars when lesions heal; intense pruritus; seed-like objects, black specks, or "fuzz balls" in lesions or on intact skin; fine, thread-like fibers of varying colors in lesions and intact skin; lesions containing thick, tough, translucent fibers that are highly resistant to extraction; and a sensation of something trying to penetrate the skin from the inside out.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: TBD Medical Associates, San Francisco, CA, USA;

ABSTRACT

Background: Morgellons disease is a controversial illness in which patients complain of stinging, burning, and biting sensations under the skin. Unusual subcutaneous fibers are the unique objective finding. The etiology of Morgellons disease is unknown, and diagnostic criteria have yet to be established. Our goal was to identify prevalent symptoms in patients with clinically confirmed subcutaneous fibers in order to develop a case definition for Morgellons disease.

Methods: Patients with subcutaneous fibers observed on physical examination (designated as the fiber group) were evaluated using a data extraction tool that measured clinical and demographic characteristics. The prevalence of symptoms common to the fiber group was then compared with the prevalence of these symptoms in patients with Lyme disease and no complaints of skin fibers.

Results: The fiber group consisted of 122 patients. Significant findings in this group were an association with tick-borne diseases and hypothyroidism, high numbers from two states (Texas and California), high prevalence in middle-aged Caucasian women, and an increased prevalence of smoking and substance abuse. Although depression was noted in 29% of the fiber patients, pre-existing delusional disease was not reported. After adjusting for nonspecific symptoms, the most common symptoms reported in the fiber group were: crawling sensations under the skin; spontaneously appearing, slow-healing lesions; hyperpigmented scars when lesions heal; intense pruritus; seed-like objects, black specks, or "fuzz balls" in lesions or on intact skin; fine, thread-like fibers of varying colors in lesions and intact skin; lesions containing thick, tough, translucent fibers that are highly resistant to extraction; and a sensation of something trying to penetrate the skin from the inside out.

Conclusions: This study of the largest clinical cohort reported to date provides the basis for an accurate and clinically useful case definition for Morgellons disease.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Morgellons patient’s lower legs. Similar lesions covered her trunk and arms. There were no excoriations or secondary infections. Photo courtesy of Cindy Casey, Charles E Holman Foundation, Austin, Texas. Reproduced with permission.
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f1-ccid-3-067: Morgellons patient’s lower legs. Similar lesions covered her trunk and arms. There were no excoriations or secondary infections. Photo courtesy of Cindy Casey, Charles E Holman Foundation, Austin, Texas. Reproduced with permission.

Mentions: Morgellons disease is a poorly understood multisystem illness characterized by stinging, biting, and crawling sensations under the skin.1 According to the Morgellons Research Foundation (MRF) website, more than 14,000 families are reportedly affected by this emerging disease.2 Considerable suffering occurs as thread-like fibers work their way out of the victim’s skin causing pain, itching, and open, disfiguring lesions (Figures 1 and 2). Unfortunately, patients are often dismissed as delusional by clinicians who are unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease.3–5 There is a scarcity of literature on Morgellons disease due to its relatively recent description in the modern medical literature, the reluctance on the part of the medical community to recognize it as anything other than psychopathology, and the lack of knowledge about its etiology and transmission.6


Morgellons disease: Analysis of a population with clinically confirmed microscopic subcutaneous fibers of unknown etiology.

Savely VR, Stricker RB - Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol (2010)

Morgellons patient’s lower legs. Similar lesions covered her trunk and arms. There were no excoriations or secondary infections. Photo courtesy of Cindy Casey, Charles E Holman Foundation, Austin, Texas. Reproduced with permission.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3047951&req=5

f1-ccid-3-067: Morgellons patient’s lower legs. Similar lesions covered her trunk and arms. There were no excoriations or secondary infections. Photo courtesy of Cindy Casey, Charles E Holman Foundation, Austin, Texas. Reproduced with permission.
Mentions: Morgellons disease is a poorly understood multisystem illness characterized by stinging, biting, and crawling sensations under the skin.1 According to the Morgellons Research Foundation (MRF) website, more than 14,000 families are reportedly affected by this emerging disease.2 Considerable suffering occurs as thread-like fibers work their way out of the victim’s skin causing pain, itching, and open, disfiguring lesions (Figures 1 and 2). Unfortunately, patients are often dismissed as delusional by clinicians who are unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of Morgellons disease.3–5 There is a scarcity of literature on Morgellons disease due to its relatively recent description in the modern medical literature, the reluctance on the part of the medical community to recognize it as anything other than psychopathology, and the lack of knowledge about its etiology and transmission.6

Bottom Line: The prevalence of symptoms common to the fiber group was then compared with the prevalence of these symptoms in patients with Lyme disease and no complaints of skin fibers.Although depression was noted in 29% of the fiber patients, pre-existing delusional disease was not reported.After adjusting for nonspecific symptoms, the most common symptoms reported in the fiber group were: crawling sensations under the skin; spontaneously appearing, slow-healing lesions; hyperpigmented scars when lesions heal; intense pruritus; seed-like objects, black specks, or "fuzz balls" in lesions or on intact skin; fine, thread-like fibers of varying colors in lesions and intact skin; lesions containing thick, tough, translucent fibers that are highly resistant to extraction; and a sensation of something trying to penetrate the skin from the inside out.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: TBD Medical Associates, San Francisco, CA, USA;

ABSTRACT

Background: Morgellons disease is a controversial illness in which patients complain of stinging, burning, and biting sensations under the skin. Unusual subcutaneous fibers are the unique objective finding. The etiology of Morgellons disease is unknown, and diagnostic criteria have yet to be established. Our goal was to identify prevalent symptoms in patients with clinically confirmed subcutaneous fibers in order to develop a case definition for Morgellons disease.

Methods: Patients with subcutaneous fibers observed on physical examination (designated as the fiber group) were evaluated using a data extraction tool that measured clinical and demographic characteristics. The prevalence of symptoms common to the fiber group was then compared with the prevalence of these symptoms in patients with Lyme disease and no complaints of skin fibers.

Results: The fiber group consisted of 122 patients. Significant findings in this group were an association with tick-borne diseases and hypothyroidism, high numbers from two states (Texas and California), high prevalence in middle-aged Caucasian women, and an increased prevalence of smoking and substance abuse. Although depression was noted in 29% of the fiber patients, pre-existing delusional disease was not reported. After adjusting for nonspecific symptoms, the most common symptoms reported in the fiber group were: crawling sensations under the skin; spontaneously appearing, slow-healing lesions; hyperpigmented scars when lesions heal; intense pruritus; seed-like objects, black specks, or "fuzz balls" in lesions or on intact skin; fine, thread-like fibers of varying colors in lesions and intact skin; lesions containing thick, tough, translucent fibers that are highly resistant to extraction; and a sensation of something trying to penetrate the skin from the inside out.

Conclusions: This study of the largest clinical cohort reported to date provides the basis for an accurate and clinically useful case definition for Morgellons disease.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus