Morgellons and Gluten Intolerance / Dermatitis Herpetiformis – may be one and the same!

Morgellons and Gluten Intolerance,  Dermatitis Herpetiformis,  May be one and the same.






Morgellons               Gluten Dermatitis / Dermatitis herpetiformis


Can you tell the difference? I can’t and I am a dermatologist!

Below are the descriptions of each of these 2 diseases from the medical literature.

Morgellons is an unusual parasite-like skin disease that produces intensely itchy sores all over the body thought most commonly to be caused by delusions of parasitosis. People suffering from this condition report a range of symptoms including crawling, biting and stinging sensations as if they had insects on and under their skin. Skin lesions (rashes or sores) appear all over the body. Fibers or threads may be found protruding out of the skin. Speck-like materials may be on or beneath the skin. Additionally, some sufferers also report systemic manifestations such as fatigue, mental confusion (brain fog), short term memory loss, joint pain, and changes in vision.

Gluten Dermatitis and Dermatitis Herpetiformis have intensely itchy blisters that are often immediately scratched, resulting in erosions and crusting. Flat red patches, thickened plaques and raised wheals may arise, resembling eczema, scabies and other skin conditions.  Additionally some suffers also complain of chronic fatigue and weakness, brain fog, forgetfulness, joint pains, irritability or behavior change, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, migraine headaches, chronic sinus congestion, and recurrent gas, bloating and abdominal pain.

In my practice, if a patient presents with this type of rash, I tell them to try avoiding all gluten (wheat) in their diet for 1 month.  If their insurance pays for testing then skin biopsies and blood tests are performed.  They are often not that helpful and very expensive! It is easiest and the most informative is to try a strict gluten-free diet.  If it is due to gluten, itching will start to improve in a few days but the rash may take 4 to 8 weeks to heal.  A rechallenge with wheat will cause the symptoms to reappear, confirming the diagnosis.  There is no other treatment except for a strict gluten-free diet.

Gluten-Free Diet

What you cannot eat

Wheat, Durum, Graham, Semolina, Spelt, Barley, Rye, Triticale, deep fried foods.
Examples – bread, muffins, cookies, pasta, pizza, most cereals, beer, fried chicken or fish, gravy.

Foods that MAY contain gluten:
Baking powder, Broth, Candy, Chewing gum, Chocolate, Salad dressings, Soups, Soy sauce, Flavorings & Seasonings, Imitation meat & seafood, Marinades & Sauces

What you can eat (Gluten-free but does not mean calorie-free)

Fresh Fruits
Fresh Vegetables
Beans Meat/fish/poultry
Eggs Vegetable/ Olive oil Butter
Most dairy products
Gluten-free grains (bread & cereal)
Rice, potatoes
Edamame, Soy, Tofu, Sushi (with gluten-free soy sauce)
100% corn tortillas or chips
Guacamole, Salsa & Cheese Dips
Cheeses except Blue Cheese
Sodas, Tea, Coffee
All Alcohol except Beer
Oats (processed in Gluten-Free facility)
Gluten Free Grains: Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Teff flour, Nut Flour, Tapioca, Beans, Corn, Rice, Soy, Potato

Gluten sensitivity is very common in the US and increases with age, particularly past the age of 40.  I hope this information will be helpful for some sufferers of chronic pruritus.