What is Morgellons and How Does it Relate to Lyme Disease?
Morgellons is a mysterious skin condition that has been increasingly reported in recent years. While most theories about the cause of this condition remain largely unaccepted, many experts now believe it may actually be linked to Lyme Disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks and possibly sexual transmission. Symptoms of Morgellons include itching and crawling sensations on the skin, but more specifically – fiber-like filaments emerging from lesions or sores.
Exploring the Connection between Lyme Disease and Morgellons
There is growing evidence that suggests a possible link between Lyme Disease and Morgellons. Recent research has confirmed that Morgellons fibers test positive for antibodies related to Lyme disease, and other spirochetal infections as well. This has led many to believe Morgellons symptoms specifically are related to Lyme disease.
Previous exhaustive research has shown that almost every other possible cause had been investigated and ruled out. The researchers undertaking the study of the relationship between Morgellons and Lyme disease faced several issues throughout their investigation, but their efforts have revealed Morgellons is not connected to the various topics causing contention among people – putting the issue to rest.
Histological studies have shown that filaments in MD tissue are not textile fibers, but are biofilaments produced by human epithelial cells and stemming from deeper epidermal layers, upper dermal layers, and the root sheath of hair follicles (Figure 1).7,82,83 MD cutaneous filaments are predominantly composed of keratin and collagen, as determined by histological studies, and appear to be produced by activated keratinocytes and fibroblasts.82,83 The base of filament attachment to epithelial cells demonstrates nucleation that is continuous with that of surrounding epithelial cells, indicating that the filaments are of human cellular origin (Figure 2).83 Histochemical staining of skin sections containing embedded filaments with Congo red resulted in apple-green birefringence suggestive of an amyloid component, although this remains to be confirmed using more specific methodologies.7 Calcofluor-white staining of skin sections with embedded filaments was negative, and thus MD filaments do not have any cellulose content from plant fibers, such as cotton, or chitin from fungal cells or insect exoskeletons.7
Several independent studies have shown that blue MD fibers were human hairs or hairlike extrusions and that blue coloration resulted from melanin pigmentation (Figure 3). Blue textile fibers are colored by dyes, not by blue melanin pigmentation; therefore, it is not possible that blue MD fibers are textile in origin. MD filaments are hairlike extrusions, and some MD fibers are very fine human hairs.7,82,83 The coloration of blue fibers was shown to result from melanin pigmentation, which was demonstrated by positive histochemical staining with Fontana Masson. A confirmatory study performed at a laboratory specializing in biofibers and coloration established that embedded blue fibers in MD dermatological specimens were human hairs.
SEM of blue MD fibers shows cuticular scaling consistent with human hairs, and transmission electron microscopy shows darkly stained, disorganized melanosomes consistent with human hairs.7,83 Microspectrophotometry reflectance of blue fibers is consistent with that of pigmented tissues, and Raman spectroscopy results in relevant peaks corresponding to carbamate compounds and melanin aromatic rings (MD Shawkey, University of Akron, personal communication, 2013).7 An investigation concluded that fibers were not self-implanted, due to the fact that they were deeply embedded in skin in a manner that a patient would not be able to achieve (MD Shawkey, University of Akron, personal communication, 2013).History of Morgellons disease: from delusion to definition – PMC (nih.gov)
Diagnosing Lyme Disease & Morgellons
Lyme disease is a serious illness that requires accurate testing and diagnosis. Testing for Lyme disease is contentious, and diagnosing Morgellons can mean different things to different practitioners. An experienced Lyme disease specialist can be consulted in order to accurately identify, diagnose and treat Morgellons. This can help reduce the unnecessary complexities associated with the Morgellons experience including stigma and marginalization.
It’s important to understand that while Morgellons specifically seems to be associated with Lyme disease and other spirochetal infections, patients may often present with a variety of maladies including fungal infections, parasitic infestations, sexually transmissible diseases, mold exposure, and more. These are often regarded as “co-infections” and may contribute to treatment resistance targeting Lyme disease specifically. A whole life approach may be required when addressing the potential for various complications. Keeping an open mind and securing a team of professionals that are dedicated to your best interest may be the best way to address Morgellons.
Treatment for Lyme Disease & Morgellons Syndrome
Lyme disease is a debilitating affliction that can cause a variety of symptoms, including joint pain, fatigue, cognitive impairment, and supposedly Morgellons. Thankfully, there are therapies available to help treat the illnesses of Lyme disease effectively. Treatments may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, supplements and lifestyle changes. In some cases, alternative treatments such as acupuncture or herbal remedies like medical marijuana may be beneficial as well.