A new study sheds light on Morgellons disease, a controversial condition marked by crawling sensations in the skin. Morgellons itself is more complicated than most initially thought, and it isn’t even an official diagnosis. Rather, it’s a collection of unexplained symptoms including abnormal sensations that sufferers describe as the feeling of insects crawling on the skin. Other symptoms also include fatigue, and perhaps most peculiarly, one symptom is tiny fibers embedded in waxy scabs on the skin.
In response to increasing reports of Morgellons symptoms, scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed blood and skin samples from 115 patients in Northern California and found no evidence linking Morgellons to an infection or environmental cause. “These sores appear often to be the result of people picking at themselves, as they would if they had a chronic irritation that couldn’t be resolved any other way,” said CDC spokesman Daniel Rutz. He also added that fibers likely slough off clothes and become encrusted in the healing wounds. The study uncovered some other common threads: Drugs were detected in hair samples from half of the patients, and more than one-third of patients had a neuropsychiatric condition.
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