Music legend Joni Mitchell, 80, made her Grammys debut at the awards show Sunday, taking home a golden trophy for Best Folk Album.
The album, recorded in 2022, was a surprise performance by the musician who had stepped away from the spotlight in 2015 after suffering a brain aneurysm.
But Ms Mitchell, 80, has also revealed she suffers from a ‘weird, incurable’ illness called Morgellons disease.
It causes ‘fibers in a variety of colors [to] protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm,’ she told The Los Angeles Times in 2010.
However, despite similar patient reports, America’s top health agencies fail to recognize the syndrome and medical professionals often refer to it as a ‘delusional’ disease.
Joni Mitchell revealed in a 2017 biography she suffers from a mysterious illness called Morgellons disease
Ms Mitchell made her Grammy’s debut at the awards show Sunday, taking home a golden trophy for Best Folk Album
Ms Mitchell said in 2010 that the disease causes ‘fibers in a variety of colors [to] protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm’
The condition doesn’t have a known organic basis and is believed to instead to be a psychiatric condition.
The disease, according to Mayo Clinic, is characterized by a belief that parasites or fibers are embedded under and emerging from a person’s skin.
People with Morgellons report feeling as if something is crawling on or stinging their skin and describe intense itching and sores.
Some healthcare providers classify the condition as a delusional infestation and prescribe antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs to treat it, along with therapy and counseling.
Other providers attribute symptoms to skin cell infections.
The medical community at large says more research needs to be done regarding MD.
Symptoms of MD include skin rashes and sores that are extremely itchy, the sensation of crawling on or under the skin, the belief fibers, threads or strings are underneath the skin, muscle and joint pain, depression and an inability to concentrate.
More than 14,000 people are estimated to be affected by the disease, according to Medical News Today.
A study in 2018 in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, said the skin condition is characterized by the presence of multi-colored filaments and fibers that are embedded in or project from the skin.
The above magnified photo shows blue and white filaments embedded in the skin from a 2018 study
The above magnified photo shows blue filaments embedded in the skin from a 2018 study
A disease with these characteristics was first reported in the United States in 2002.
Study authors wrote: ‘Because individuals afflicted with the disease may have crawling or stinging sensations and sometimes believe they have an insect or parasite infestation, most medical practitioners consider MD a purely delusional disorder.’
Research regarding the condition has resulted in mixed conclusions.
The 2018 study said some research ignores the fact some mental health disorders can result from an underlying illness.
Additionally, other experimental investigations have shown the skin condition could be a physiological response to an underlying infection.
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 115 people with Morgellons, which the agency calls ‘an explained dermatopathy.’
The study showed most of the fibers and filaments in the skin could be explained by patients repeatedly scratching skin sores and fabric fibers entering those sores – as opposed to fibers emerging from the skin.
Researchers also noted the condition is most often reported by middle-aged white women and the symptoms are very similar to the condition delusional infestation.
This is a mental health disorder in which patients have false beliefs of being infested with parasites.
The study also estimated a prevalence of 3.65 MD cases per 100,000 people in the US.
No known cause of MD has been determined, but a 2015 study explored the link between the skin disorder and Lyme disease, finding that 24 out of the 25 MD patients had the tick-borne illness.
A 2021 case report described a 27-year-old white woman with a previous history of anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression who was experiencing symptoms related to MD.
The woman went to the emergency department with skin sores and ulcers after spending time in a heavily wooded area.
The left photo shows a lesion on a patient’s hand and the right photo shows a lesion on a patient’s thigh from a 2021 case study
The above shows skin scrapings that revealed fibers and debris collected from various lesions on the patient from a 2021 case study
Doctors believed she was suffering from an allergic reaction and prescribed her Benadryl and steroid cream.
However, three days later she visited her primary care doctor complaining of a rash and stating ‘worms were coming out of my body.’ She also reported she had seen a black insect that had ‘crawled out of’ one of her lesions.
She later identified the insect as a tick.
After several months of treatment, she continued to report multi-colored threads coming out of her sores, causing stinging and burning.
Referred to a dermatologist, she was put on a two-week cycle of a powerful antibiotic, which led to significant improvement in her skin sores.
This has led providers to believe antibiotics could be an effective treatment option for patient’s with suspected Morgellons.
However, because the disease is so misunderstood, there is no cure for it.