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What is a Demodex Mite Infestation?

What is a Demodex Mite Infestation?

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Advisory by Asmirah Abdul Rahim, Guardian Pharmacist

What are demodex mites?
Demodex is a group of mites that live in or around the hair follicles. The two species that are typically found on humans are Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. These mites are invisible to the naked eye, and can only be seen using a microscope.

How do demodex mites affect humans?
It is normal for demodex mites to be present in healthy individuals. Demodex mites are mostly found on the face in eyebrows and eyelashes, and on the cheek, forehead, and nose. Most individuals do not present with any symptoms despite the presence of the mites. However, symptoms will appear when there is a high amount of demodex mites present, especially in individuals with a weak immune system.

What are the symptoms of a demodex mite infestation?
Demodicosis is a term used to describe skin conditions related to demodex. The symptoms include skin itching, eye irritation, scaling of the eyelids, and blurred vision. While demodicosis has not been found to cause any serious conditions, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) and rosacea (a facial condition in which the skin turns red) are commonly associated with increased demodex mites.

What can be done to treat demodicosis?
There are no approved medications to treat demodicosis. However, some doctors may prescribe anti-mite agents such as crotamiton cream to control the number of demodex mites. Also, some studies have shown that the use of tea tree oil preparations may help to manage the symptoms that are caused by a mite infestation.

How is symptomatic demodicosis best prevented?
The best way to prevent and treat demodicosis is to practise proper hygiene. All individuals should:

  • Wash their hair with mild shampoo frequently
  • Clean eyelashes twice daily with a mild cleanser
  • Avoid oil-based cleansers and make-ups
  • Change bed sheets and pillow cases regularly

 

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