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Demodex Mites - The Complete Guide

by Finola Fegan

Demodox Mites

Human beings are mammals and as such, belong to a large group which includes dogs, cats, horses etc etc.

Human skin is similar to most of the other mammals skin. Though nearly all human skin is covered with hair follicles, it can appear hairless.

Because it interfaces with the environment, skin plays an important immunity role in protecting the body against pathogens and excessive water loss. Other functions are insulation, temperature regulation, sensation, synthesis of vitamin D, etc.

As mammals our skin is made of up of three main layers:

  • The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.
  • The dermis, beneath the epidermis, contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
  • The deeper subcutaneous tissue (hypodermis) is made of fat and connective tissue.

And living in and on our skin, is a very large population of bacteria and microscopic mites, called Demodex mites, or otherwise known as Demodex Mite Dogs, which is can affect the scalp and face and leads to Acne Rosacea otherwise known as Type 2 Rosacea.

There are two main species of Demodex mites, Demodex folliculorum which is found in hair follicles, and Demodex brevis which live in sebaceous glands connected to hair follicles which are both considered as parasitic mites. The reason we should be interested in Demodex mites is the part they play in the skin condition, Type 2 Rosacea.

As far back as 2008 – which can seem like a very long time when you suffer from Rosacea – the relationship between Demodex mites and Type 2 Rosacea was being discussed.

A 2008 study of the mites, which are invisible to the naked eye, concluded that

‘’Although they are normal inhabitants of human skin, microscopic mites known as Demodex folliculorum may actually be something to blush about, and demonstrated for the first time that these invisible organisms may be a cause or exacerbating factor in Rosacea.1

 

Demodex On Face

While it is well established that Demodex occur in far greater numbers on the faces of people with Rosacea, it was uncertain whether they play a role in the development of the disorder," said Dr. Frank Powell, consultant dermatologist at Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, who conducted the study along with colleagues at the National University of Ireland-Maynooth. "In other words, which came first, the mites or the rosacea? And now there is evidence that it might be the mites."

Studies have found that people suffering from rosacea tend to have more Demodex mites. Instead of 1 or 2 per square centimetre of skin, the number can rise to 10 to 20.

To gain a better understanding of rosacea and the link to the Demodex Mites, we have to understand the habits of the mites themselves.

Firstly, Demodex folliculorum feed on skin cells, whereas Demodex  brevis feed on oil called sebum in the oil gland cells.

 

The folliculorum mite is different from other types of mites because it can increase the number of skin cells in hair follicles. These Demodex mites symptoms generally can give people the appearance of scaly skin. 

Type 2 Rosacea is an underlying oily skin condition, the skin may actually look dry in appearance because of the scaly skin.

 

This was certainly the case with the very first subject who took part in the Finca Skin Organics customer trial, of Type 2 Rosacea sufferers

There are some factors which can increase the likelihood and severity of a Demodex infestation. Eg. Oily skin, weakened immune system. Studies have shown that people suffering from cancer, often have increased numbers of demodex mites, populating their skin.

In the animal kingdom this increase in the number of mites is known as Demodicosis or sometimes even called Demodectic mange.

In human skin increased numbers of Demodex, can give rise to a number of skin conditions including Type 2 Rosacea.

So why do the mites like living on your face compared to other parts of the body?  Well for one thing,  your face has larger pores and more numerous sebaceous glands, which may explain why the mites tend to live there. But they have also been found elsewhere, including the genital area and on breasts.

 

Glands affected by Demodex

The Demodex mites body is covered with scales for anchoring itself in the hair follicle, and the mite has pin-like mouth parts for eating skin cells and oils (sebum) which accumulate in the hair follicles.

Demodex mites infection happens often, and often happens without any symptoms, and can be the reason for some skin conditions. The mites are transferred between hosts through contact with hair, eyebrows, and the sebaceous glands of the face.

What are Demodex Mites

Demodex Mite Up Close

The adult mites are only 0.3 – 0.4 millimetres long, with Demodex brevis slightly shorter than Demodex folliculorum. Both are characterised by oval shape of the body. They have four pairs of legs in front of the body, which provide excellent adhesion to the surface.

The rear part of Demodex body is ended with an annular abdomen. The Demodex development cycle lasts from 18 to 25 days. The fertilised female lays about 24 eggs, which hatch into larvae. The larvae are transformed into nymphs, similar to adults but with only three pairs of legs. In the last phase of the cycle they develop into full adults with four pairs of legs and the ability to reproduce.  

One thing to note, these mites also don't have anuses. They still need to excrete, so it's been said that they 'explode' with waste at the end of their lives. When a Demodex dies, its body dries out and all the built-up waste degrades on your face.

"It's not an exploding action necessarily, but it's true that all their waste builds up over time and then there's one large flush of bacteria,"

When the mites die, they release their internal contents," says Dr Kavanagh. National University of Ireland, Maynooth. "This contains a lot of bacteria and toxins that cause irritation and inflammation."

The dead mites decompose inside the hair follicles or sebaceous glands.

 

Where Demodex Mites Are Found

Demodex are typically found on:

the face including cheeks, nose, chin, forehead, temples, eye lashes, brows, and also on the balding scalp, neck, ears.

Other seborrheic regions such as naso-labial folds, peri-orbital areas, and less commonly upper and medial region of chest and back can also be infested.

 

  1. Folliculorum is more commonly localized to the face, while D. brevis is more commonly found on the neck and chest. Infestation with D. folliculorum is more common than with D. brevis, but the later has wider distribution on the body. D. folliculorum and uses skin cells and sebum for nourishment. Several mites, with heads directed toward the fundus, usually occupy a single follicle. D. brevis, on the other hand, burrows deeper into the sebaceous glands and ducts and feeds on gland cells. Penetration of Demodex into the dermis or, more commonly, an increase generally in the number of mites is believed to cause infestation, which triggers inflammation.  

Demodex usually prey at night, avoiding the sunlight. The mites feed on sebum, and secretions from the sebaceous glands and epithelial cells. Any treatment to reduce the numbers of the mites is best done just before the rosacea sufferer goes to bed. That is why the Finca Type 2 Rosacea Serum is applied twice daily, with one of the applications just before the rosacea sufferer goes to bed.

The mites can leave the hair follicles and slowly walk around on the skin, at a speed of 8–16 mm (0.31–0.63 in) per hour, especially at night, as they try to avoid light.

 Older people are far more likely to carry the mites; about a third of children and young adults, half of adults, and two-thirds of elderly people are estimated to carry the mites. The lower rate of children may be because children produce much less sebum. The mites are transferred between hosts through contact of hair, eyebrows and of the sebaceous glands on the nose. In the majority of cases, the mites go unobserved, without any adverse symptoms, but in certain cases (usually related to a suppressed immune system, caused by stress or illness) mite populations can dramatically increase, resulting in a condition known as demodicosis.

 

Typical symptoms of Demodex mite overabundance can include the following Rosacea or Acne:

 

  • rash, acne, pustules, purulent lesions
  • rash, boils, scabs,
  • oedema / swelling around the lesions
  • burning and / or itchy skin
  • the feeling of tingling (moving demodex)
  • keratosis (hyperkeratosis)
  • scaling / dry skin
  • folliculitis
  • loss of hair, eyebrows, eyelashes
  • obstruction / blockage of sebaceous passages
  • the formation of blackheads
  • redness of skin / telangiectasia (widened blood vessels)
  • ear passage infection (unpleasant)
  • blepharitis (rear and / or front)
  • skin infections caused by microorganisms

Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) – (Hairloss to you and me!!)

alopecia

Demodex has also been implicated in the types of alopecia. The role of Demodex in alopecia has been evaluated to be direct in some studies and indirect in others. The possible mechanisms include the following:

  • Induction of inflammation by the presence of an immune-active lipase in Demodex mite. Nowadays, inflammation has been considered to be involved in pathogenesis of AGA.  It has been proposed that inflammation reaction in AGA is confined to the surrounding area of sebaceous glands.
  • Altering local hormone metabolism by the inflammatory reaction.
  • Sebaceous glands of alopecia-affected hair follicles become larger and more active under the influence of dihydrotestosterone, producing oils at a faster rate and, hence, become a more suitable environment for Demodex. In fact, Demodex infestation is considered to be secondary to AGA and not its cause.
  • Exhaustion of the hair bulb and shifting of hair cycle from anagen to telogen through long-term invasion by the parasite.

 

Infestation of components of the eyelids with Demodex folliculorum can also result in loss of eyelashes. Demodex mite causes follicular inflammation that produces edema and subsequent easier epilation of eyelashes, and also Demodex mites can cause blackheads.

A relatively new study, conducted at Mexico's General Hospital in Mexico City, found much higher numbers of Demodex mites in biopsies of the skin of patients with rosacea than in people with normal skin. 

Evidence appears to be mounting that an overabundance of Demodex may possibly be triggering an immune response in people with rosacea, or that the inflammation may be caused by certain bacteria associated with the mites.

Current treatments include topical  and oral antibiotics, but up to half of patients have to switch treatments because it either does not work or causes side effects.

 

It has been proposed that failure to wash the face and overuse of oily or creamy preparations supplies the Demodex mites with extra lipid nourishment, which promotes reproduction of mites in large numbers, which plugs the pilo-sebaceous ducts and leads to appearance of rosacea-like facial eruption

 Prevention/treatment of human Demodicosis

Demodex can only live in the human hair follicle and, when kept under control, causes no problems. However, to reduce the chance of the mites proliferating excessively, following preventive measures are important:

  • Cleanse the face twice daily with non-soap cleanser
  • Avoid oil-based cleansers and greasy makeup
  • Exfoliate periodically to remove dead skin cells.

Although there are therapies that kill Demodex mites, we can't get rid of them forever.

They rebound after about six weeks, says Dr Kavanagh. "We pick them up from people who we are in contact with. We pick them up from sheets, pillows, towels. There's good evidence that we transmit them between each other."

After clinical manifestations, the mites may be temporarily eradicated with topical insecticides, especially crotamiton cream, permethrin cream, and also with topical or systemic metronidazole. In severe cases, such as those with HIV infection, oral ivermectin may be recommended.

 How to get rid of Demodex mites on face

Finca Skin Organics Type 2 Rosacea Serum’s, unique blend of plant actives target the Demodex mites and keep their population under control.

The control of the mite numbers therefore reduce the symptoms of Type 2 Rosacea without the need for chemical based treatment. Other Internal medicines include Apple Cider Vinegar to help breakdown fats in your body, which prevents Rosacea.

Image Of Demodecosis

 

We would like to acknowledge the experts in the fields of Demodex mites and the link with skin conditions including Type 2 Rosacea, without whose help and interest the condition could not be understood and treatments could not be advanced. This blog was written with the help of the articles below and the observation of customers using the Finca Skin Organics Type 2 Rosacea Serum.