We received a very distressing email from a reader recently who is suffering from some sort of parasitic infection, or what is believed to be a parasitic infection. The parasite is complicated. It is decribed as white with a “hard ribbed outer shell,” and it can curl up or lie flat. It is under the skin of the reader, but it can break through, and it causes a lot of itching and discomfort. “Tangles of very small worms” are also somehow related to the parasite’s life cycle, but it is not clear how. (Are the thin, small worms somehow part of the parasite or are they a separate parasite? Or perhaps they are actually the parasite itself at some stage in its life cycle?) While we are by no means qualified to render a diagnosis (and so we aren’t), our reader’s description brings to mind that of Morgellons disease, a very strange ailment that the medical community regards as a “delusional infestation,” even though the afflicted swear the disease is physical and not mental.
In the strongest possible terms, we must emphasize that we are not medical professionals. Nothing we say should in any way be construed as medical advice, and anyone with an illness should seek the care of a qualified medical professional. Unfortunately, this disclosure, while absolutely necessary, will likely frustrate our reader, as she has “begged universities” to help her identify her problem, and she has sent hundreds of emails and pictures to doctors and researchers. Evidently, she also visited a doctor at one point because she had a biopsy done. According to the reader, the medical community has basically ignored her. While we have the greatest compassion for our reader and want deeply to help her, we simply aren’t qualified to offer anything but some information we’ve have learned over the years writing about worms and various other creatures. What we offer is, once more, not medical advice, and we have to insist that she visit a doctor for help. Even if one doctor didn’t help, she should visit another. Alas, patients have to be their own advocates sometimes.
The reader sent us numerous pictures, some of which are fairly graphic. We have included a few images below.
Here is a picture of the reader’s skin, showing what the reader claims to believe is the work of a parasite:
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The reader seems to imply that the large red spot indicates where the parasite is under her skin. At one point in her email, the reader says that the parasite is “encased in a sack” – it is not clear if this is always the case – and perhaps it is the sack that is the visible red spot. The reader says that the parasite also has “breathing tubes,” and she says that it “seems to need three connectors to the skin surface, in a triangle pattern on the skin.” The fainter red spots do make a type of triangle pattern.
Again, the reader made reference to worms, and these seem to be depicted in the following image that appears to be taken through a microscope.
This microscope image shows another “worm,” and we presume the blob-like thing that the worm intersects with is what the reader is calling “the parasite.” (Although the reader provided us with an extremely detailed email – probably the most detailed All About Worms has ever received – there is no explanation of what each individual picture shows.)
The last thing we want to do is be glib about our reader’s problem. She is clearly suffering – she says that she shaves her head every day to alleviate the itching, and she swears the creatures inside her have seriously compromised her body. (She says they have blocked her uterus, for instance.) If the reader does have Morgellons disease (and we are not offering a medical diagnosis), her discomfort is real. And of course the reader may not have Morgellons disease, and perhaps is suffering from a parasitic infection, exactly as she says. In either case, we urge our reader to seek medical help, and not just by emailing doctors and researchers photos. She needs to be evaluated by a physician as soon as possible. Our heart goes out to our afflicted reader. We wish her the very best.