If you suffer from a Demodex mite infection, you probably have many questions on your mind to struggle with. What is a Demodex mite? What can kill Demodex mites? Where do these parasites come from? What do they eat? And other questions like these. This article has tried to answer all your questions about Demodex mites and related issues in one place. If you are curious about these parasites, you will probably find your questions and answers in this article.
Question 1: What Is a Demodex Mite?
Demodex mites are microscopic worm-like skin parasites in mammalian skin follicles and sebaceous glands: a saprophytic type of mite that belongs to the family Demodicidae, class Arachnida, and order Acarina. They crawl with their eight segmented legs clustered in the front part of their bodies and constantly move between the skin depth and the surface.
So far, 65 species are known, of which two species, Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis, only live on human skin. Almost all adults (23 to 100%) have a population of these mites on their skin. They are a kind of obligatory human ectoparasite, resident in or near the pilosebaceous units.
Question 2:Where Do Demodex Mites Come From?
Demodex mites have been living on mammalian skin for thousands of years. Historical studies show that their coexistence with humans may date back to when they left Africa and spread across the globe. However, humans are not born with these mites, but they can be transmitted to the baby in infancy through cuddling and physical contact with parents. Demodex density usually remains negligible until puberty and then increases with age. Almost all adults have a number of them on their skin.
Question 3: What Do Demodex Mites Look Like? Are Demodex Mites Visible?
Adult Demodex mites have 0.1-0.4 mm length (Demodex folliculorum is slightly taller than Demodex Brevis). Female parasites are shorter and rounder than males.
Their semi-transparent elongated, cigar-shaped bodies have three fused segments:
- Head (gnathosoma): The frontal part where the oral appendages are located.
- Trunk (podosome): The middle part where four pairs of legs are attached to both sides. (Three pairs in larvae)
- Tail (opisthosoma): The extended end of the body.
The parasite’s skin has scales that help them anchor themselves in the hair follicle. They move at a speed of 8 to 16 cm per hour and feed with their pin-like mouthparts.
Demodex folliculorum are longer and mostly live in follicles. Demodex brevis, on the other hand, have a fusiform shape, short legs and live in the sebaceous and meibomian glands.
D.folliculorum have sharper oral appendages than their counterpart, which lets it destroy epithelial cells and penetrate the underlying layers.
Demodex parasites first secrete enzymes to digest the food and then suck it in through their oral appendages
Question 4:Are Demodex Mites Contagious?
Yes, human Demodex can move between carriers in three ways:
- Close contact, especially skin-to-skin contact such as during kissing.
- Direct contact with personal items in contact with skin and hair such as combs, pillowcases, hats and sheets.
- Through dust containing eggs.
Although Demodex parasites usually anchor under the skin, some are on the surface for a time. Furthermore, they climb up in the dark to mate, leading them to have a higher density on the skin during the night. Demodex mites can spread through close skin contact (similar to that found in couples).
In addition, while drying the skin with a towel, combing the hair, laying the head on a pillow, or similar activities, a number of Demodex mites spread to these surfaces. They can last there alive for up to 52 hours and transfer to the second carrier at the subsequent contact, setting the stage for a new infection.
Although Demodex parasites usually lay eggs deep in the skin, as the skin sheds, these eggs spread to the environment and can infect a new carrier through the dust. Under favourable skin conditions, these eggs hatch into larva and begin a new cycle of growth and reproduction on the new host’s skin.
However, Demodex mites are species-specific. They can not transmit from one mammalian species to another. In other words, the mites found on cats and dogs do not spread to humans and vice versa.
PROCUTiN removes Demodex parasites on the skin, as well as immediate environments such as fabrics, sheets, combs, and other personal items to prevent them from transmitting to others. Just spray a small amount of this product on contaminated equipment.
Question 5: Can Demodex Mites Live In Bedding?
Yes. Demodex can live in bedding and other appropriate surfaces for a limited time, during which they can spread to others via direct contact. Although Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis can only live on humans, they can last for hours to days on external surfaces once separated from the skin. Their lasting duration depends on the ambient oil (the principal food of Demodex), temperature, humidity and other environmental conditions. Demodex mites usually survive on oily surfaces such as pillowcases, scarves, towels and combs for longer periods of time. They hide in the fabric and feed on the grease, and wait to spread to the next carrier at an opportune time.
Question 6: Can Demodex Mites Live In Your Mouth?
Both Demodex mite species live in the skin sebaceous glands and follicles. Due to the immense number of sebaceous glands around the mouth, nose, forehead and chin, Demodex infection is more likely in these areas. However, although there are sebaceous glands inside the mouth, Demodex infection there is very unlikely, and only one case has been reported so far.
Saliva contains antimicrobial enzymes and compounds such as hydrogen peroxide, lysozyme, and lactoferrin, factors that kill or disinfect microorganisms. Hence the growth of Demodex inside the mouth of healthy individuals seems impossible.
Question 7: What Do Demodex Mites Eat?
Demodex’s leading food is sebum, the oil produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands that spreads across the hair and skin to protect them from drying out. In addition to oil, Demodex feed on epithelial cells, amino acids, dead cells, hormones, vitamins, minerals, and substances inside the cells.
However, their food is not limited to what the skin produces. The oils and nutrients in cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, creams, and the like are additional sources of nutrition to feed them.
Demodex mites digest food before sucking them in by secreting enzymes from their mouths. Demodex folliculorum has sharp oral appendages to rupture the cell membrane of the follicles and suck the contents inside. It uses a seven-clawed organ called “palpus” to hold to cells, sucking out their innards with a retractable needle in the middle of a round mouth.
DDC removes oil and impurities from the skin and limits the exogenous food sources of these parasites.
Question 8: Do Demodex Mites Bite?
Demodex mites can bite the skin using their mouth appendages, leading to itchy skin and dermatitis. However, these parasites are so tiny that if a few of them do bite the skin, they cannot cause any particular symptoms. Only if a large population of Demodex mites resides on the skin can it lead to itchy skin as a consequence of frequent biting.
Yet, the cause of Demodex-related dermatitis and itching is beyond simple bites. These parasites release inflammatory substances, damaging the local tissues and causing dermatitis and inflammation. Demodex, on the other hand, affect skin issues by provoking the immune system and releasing pathogens they hold within their guts.
Question 9: Are Demodex Mites Harmful?
Although a small number of Demodex mites do not usually lead to specific symptoms, their enormous population can cause, trigger, or worsen many skin concerns. It is a common belief that they are harmless in small numbers and even help cleanse the skin of dead cells and other harmful substances. Some studies have suggested that Demodex mites are considered an example of commensalism rather than parasitism.
*commensalism: a form of coexistence in which the host neither benefits nor harms the guest
However, investigations in recent years reveal that although the Demodex infection symptoms remain hidden in a low population, even a limited number of these mites can damage the skin and are considered parasites. As a clue, more Demodex mites can lead to lower skin quality, radiance, and health. Demodex release harmful substances, and the immune system may react to them. Thus, Demodex are considered a parasite and is not harmless.
Question 10: What Do Demodex Mites Do?
What Demodex mites do is sabotage skin and hair! Like other parasites, they harm the host by looting the resources. These microscopic organisms feast on oils, vitamins, hormones, and other supplies required by the skin and hair to grow and multiply. On the other hand, they leave harmful substances that cause damage and inflammation. Demodex mites are attributed to various skin and hair issues such as acne, rosacea, blepharitis, alopecia, hair loss, thinning hair, dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, fungal acne, etc. and can mimic their symptoms. They constantly move between the surface and the depth and carry germs and infections to different sites of the skin. The mites can even bite you or cause allergies by stimulating the immune system.
In general, what Demodex do is not in the host’s best interest.
Question11: Can You Get Demodex Mites From Dogs?
No! Demodex can not spread from dogs to humans and other mammals and vice versa. Fortunately, Demodex parasites are species-specific and cannot survive in other species’ bodies. However, a few reports of this transmission suggest observing personal hygiene during Demodex mange. If you or your pets have demodicosis, avoid skin contact and do not let them on your bed until they have been remedied.
Question 12: What Happens When Demodex Mites Die?
Demodex mites are like a sealed container holding inflammatory substances: bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other toxic substances. They do not have an anus. Thus, they lock up all these harmful components in their bodies until death. When Demodex mites die, they rot inside their hard skeleton, leaking their contaminants inside out into the hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and on the skin. These inflammatory substances can aggravate the symptoms of Demodex. In other words, the concerns that arose from these mites are not just related to what they do during their lifespan, but many of them are attributed to their bodies’ decomposition after death. The greater the number of Demodex, the more they die on the skin and the more issues they cause.
Beyond killing mites, PROCUTiN helps alleviate the symptoms Demodex parasites cause by eradicating bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other harmful substances they spread on the surfaces of the skin.
Question 13: Do I Have Demodex Mites?
Studies show that 30 to 100 percent of adults carry a population of Demodex mites on their skin. If you are an adult, you probably have a number of them. These mites have lived on our ancestors since thousands of years ago. Yet, they are not inherited. Newborns get mites from their parents after birth through direct skin-to-skin contact. However, they remain negligible until adolescence.
With the onset of puberty, skin sebaceous glands become more active and produce more oil as the leading food of these parasites, making the skin a suitable place for them to grow and multiply. From this time on, the number of Demodex parasites increases insofar as almost all older individuals have a significant number of Demodex.
However, as long as they are less than 5 per square centimeter of skin, they do not cause noticeable symptoms. Yet, in large populations, Demodex mites can cause or provoke various dermatological issues in the host. Rosacea, blepharitis, stubborn acne, premature skin aging, wrinkles, altered pigmentation, and hair loss are all associated with large populations of these parasites.
So, in a nutshell, almost everyone has some Demodex mites on their skin, but what matters is their density.
Regular use of Demodex prevention products, such as PROCUTiN, will help you stop Demodex mites before it’s too late. To do this, spray a small amount of PROCUTiN on your skin once a week. If you have a weak immune system or are taking immunosuppressive drugs, Demodex can quickly multiply on your skin. So employ PROCUTiN as a preventive measure to keep your skin and hair healthy.