Itching, or pruritus, is a bothersome skin issue that usually initiates an urge to scratch. Although almost all people experience itching, individuals with chronic pruritus have difficulty coping with life. Chronic pruritus is a nightmare that may lead to unwelcome events. Unbelievable as it may seem, Anne Louise Oaklander, MD, PhD, of the department of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, documented an irregular case of itching in a 39-year-old female who developed severe itching above her eyebrows after acquiring shingles. It should be noted that Shingles can sometimes lead to loss of peripheral sensory neurons, destroying the pain sensation that controls such aggressive scratching. Due to not having any pain and intense itching, she continued scratching the area, leading to osteomyelitis (inflammation or swelling in the bone), skull perforation, and extreme brain injury.
What this woman experienced is an extreme example of the overlooked dangers of itching and a stark reminder of why finding the reason and targeting the root of itching is so essential.
Pruritus can be confined to an area or generalised to several skin parts. Regardless of whether and how intense it is, the first phase in fighting itching is determining the underlying reason. This article explores the causes of itching, highlighting the role of Demodex mites.
Evaluation of Itching- Pruritus Roots
Determining the roots of pruritus may take a long time. For example, physical checkups, history of itching, blood tests and diagnostic assays are parts of investigations to find the leading cause. The latter two approaches generally look for causes that won’t get brought to light by physical checkups.
Your doctor may request a full blood test to investigate the potential reasons for pruritus. Some changes in blood proteins, enzymes, and other factors can represent health concerns that may lead to pruritus. We examine some of them here:
- Erythrocytes, Haemoglobin, and Ferritin: These indicators are attributed to iron deficiency anaemia. Erythrocytes (red blood cells) take oxygen to different tissues using haemoglobin, which has iron in its structure. Shortage of iron can generate haemoglobin and Erythrocyte deficiency, ending up in a lack of oxygen in tissues and cells, which may cause itching. Moreover, individuals who have already been diagnosed with anaemia and are under treatment may develop an allergic response to ferrous sulphate (an iron supplement) and develop pruritus.
- Liver Enzymes: High liver enzymes are important indicators of liver disorder, which can lead to itchy skin. Similarly, the elevation of some liver enzymes may indicate cholestasis, a decrease in bile flow and another cause of itching.
- Creatinine, Urea, and Uric Acid: Critical indicators of kidney function which elevate in individuals with kidney failure and cause pruritus.
- Antibody/AntigenTest or Nucleic Acid Test: A positive result shows an HIV infection, generating widespread pruritus in sufferers.
- Thyroid Hormones: Changes in thyroid hormones can cause itching. Individuals with hyperthyroidism usually experience pruritus.
- Blood Glucose: People suffering from diabetes, especially those with extremely high blood glucose, develop peripheral nerve damage that can generate itching.
A skin biopsy is one of the diagnostic assays that can help your physician check the skin for conditions and parasitic disorders that can cause pruritus, including:
- Demodex mites: These tiny parasites usually hide in the skin follicles and oil glands. They can generate extensive and severe itching by secreting inflammatory factors and triggering other skin disorders.
- Some skin cancers: Some kinds of skin cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma or, to some degree, basal cell carcinoma, can provoke itching.
- Psoriasis: A chronic autoimmune condition that can cause pruritus.
- MRI: MS is one of the health concerns that can cause widespread pruritus, and an MRI helps your physician diagnose it.
- Chest x-ray: Enlarged lymph nodes can be linked to itchy skin, and your doctor can determine their size by a chest x-ray can
Moreover, A detailed history and clinical examination can help your doctor find other causes of itching, including:
- Dry skin
- Contact dermatitis
- Insect bites and lice
- Atopic dermatitis
- Advanced age
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight
- Substance abuse disorders
Demodex Mites Have a Role in Chronic Itching
Demodex mites are tiny critters similar to ticks, except they are much smaller and usually hide near pilosebaceous units. The mites are microscopic, not detectable unless you look at them under a lens. Similar to Candida and Malassezia fungi, Demodex parasites naturally live on human skin and are usually harmless unless they proliferate too much. Some circumstances, such as a defective immune system, can encourage them to increase and cause various skin and hair problems, one of which is pruritus.
Demodex usually hide deep within the skin and pass through the tiny pores to get to the surface. They settle inside follicles and oil glands.
The Demodex mite’s life cycle is short and takes only 14-16 days. Their life span (the length of time they live) is several weeks; thus, the mites have plenty of time to mate and reproduce. Each female Demodex can deposit 15 to 20 eggs at a time. So ignoring the asymptomatic infection can lead to severe complications, including pruritus, in a short time.
Demodex Itching Mechanism
Demodex parasites can trigger or exacerbate pruritis in the following ways:
- Exacerbating underlying disorders: Investigations reveal that large populations of mites can trigger or worsen skin problems responsible for itching. For example, seborrheic dermatitis is closely connected to Demodex mites infection.
- Secreting inflammatory substances: Demodex secretes provocative substances, leading to local inflammation and pruritus.
- Stimulating the immune system: The natural defence may detect and target Demodex mites as foreigners. Cytokines, a kind of mediator of the immune system, can initiate an inflammatory response, leading to manifestations, including itching.
- Parasites creeping on the surface: These parasites have eight tiny, segmented feet and crawl at a speed of 8 to 16 cm on the surface. When large crowds of them wriggle at the same time, feeling itchy is reasonable.
- Body decomposition: Demodex mites do not have an anus. They hold whatever they eat inside their guts until they die. However, along with the decay of their bodies, the harmful substances they have inside their guts, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, gradually spread on the skin and generate a variety of skin disorders, including severe pruritus.
What Causes Demodex to Increase?
As mentioned, almost every adult has a small number of these parasites on their skin. However, good circumstances lead them to grow and exceed five per square centimetres of skin in number. This situation, which is usually associated with myriad skin disorders, is called demodicosis. Factors that help Demodex mites grow are the following:
- Weak immunity, such as in individuals suffering from HIV.
- Corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive medications
- Some of the skin concerns
Demodex Mites Are Transmissible
Demodex mites can easily transfer via contact from one carrier to another. Contaminated items such as towels, combs and pillowcases are appropriate carriers for these parasites. To avoid Demodex from spreading, the following actions are suggested for people with weak immunity or those who are predisposed to Demodex infection for any other reasons:
- Never share your personal items with others.
- Avoid using other people’s personal items.
- Avoid direct skin contact with people as much as you can.
- Wash your bedding, towels, comb, clothes and other fabrics and contact items regularly, and dry them in the sun.
- Before using beauty salon equipment, spray a small amount of products formulated to kill Demodex, such as PROCUTiN, on the surfaces to destroy the mites.
- Always observe your hygiene.
A Shortcut to Detecting Demodex Itching
Due to the mites being microscopic, it is impossible to look for Demodex infection using a clinical examination. If your doctor suspects a Demodex infection, they confirm this hypothesis by sending a skin biopsy to the lab to count any Demodex mites under a lens. However, the Online Demodex Diagnostic Test is a non-invasive, more feasible way to diagnose Demodex pruritus. Although Demodex mites are invisible, you can trace their symptoms and available breaking out opportunities. This is an online microscopic testing site that uses these trackers to estimate the population of Demodex. The test is provided by Ungex Company, and our experts are the only authority capable of interpreting the results. Our R&D experts’ years of study and research support the online test result’s accuracy, precision, and reliability.
If you are suffering from chronic itching, it’s enough to spare five minutes and take the test for free. If the results report a significant number of Demodex, there is a chance your itching is related to these parasites. In the next step, the Ungex team will help you eliminate your mites and control the itching caused by them.
How to Relieve Itchy Skin
Pruritus and other Demodex-related manifestations do not resolve unless you get the Demodex density under control. No matter how good you clean your skin, you cannot wipe the mites out by over-cleansing and may even exacerbate the condition. Repeated washing the skin with detergents dries it out, hurting this crucial defensive barrier. Damaged skin can not defend your body against microorganisms. Demodex mites and other opportunistic microbes take advantage of this breach to increase their population.
Destroying Demodex mites demands antiparasitic products, which eradicate Demodex on the surface
PROCUTiN The Miracle Product to Fight Demodex
OZiDEX is an Australian company expert in manufacturing anti-Demodex skincare products. Our unique product, PROCUTiN, can eradicate these mites upon direct contact. This robust product can target the mites both on the skin and on different surfaces. So, it is enough to apply a small amount of PROCUTiN on the affected skin or surface environment. The product targets the mites of all generations and gradually decreases the Demodex density and their manifestation.
SDT is another anti-Demodex product from our sister brand Ungex, that works similar to PROCUTiN, but it is more suitable for sensitive skin. Using these products for a few months helps control the population of Demodex mites and reduce the pruritus caused by them.
In addition to over-the- counter anti-Demodex products, OZiDEX offers a particular protocol that helps sufferers get the most from these products. We have investigated Demodex thoroughly to find their weak points to launch an effective attack. Our consultants provide clients with free advice during the treatment period and help them destroy Demodex mites and their signs.