Demodicosis in Humans: Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson goes over the definition of demodicosis as well as the general signs and symptoms someone may experience with this condition. You'll also learn about some of the potential treatment options for demodicosis.

What is Demodicosis?

This might sound disgusting, so prepare yourself. Your skin contains a lot of bugs. Not just bacteria, though. It also contains microscopic mites. They are called demodex mites. They are commensal/parasitic organisms that can be found within the glands, ducts and hair follicles entrenched in your skin (or on the skin itself).

By commensal, this means the mites are typically found on/in our skin and usually don't cause any harm. In fact, there's even some evidence to suggest they might actually help protect us against bad bacteria. By parasitic, this means they can be purely harmful in some cases of infestation. In fact, demodex mites are the most prevalent parasites of our skin. The way they act (good or bad) heavily depends on the way our body's defenses are altered with respect to these mites.

A demodex mite
A demodex mite

In instances when these mites cause any one of various skin problems, we call this state demodicosis or demodicidosis.

Let's find out about the signs, symptoms, and treatments associated with these terms.

Signs & Symptoms

What's kind of interesting is that upwards of 100% of people will be infested with demodex mites sometime in their life. But don't go scrubbing your skin raw just yet! These infestations are actually usually asymptomatic, which means you won't feel anything or see anything as a result of it.

In people unlucky enough to experience the signs and symptoms of demodicosis, they can expect any combination of the following, all depending on which part of their body the demodex mites affect:

  • Pruritus, or itchiness
  • Reddened skin
  • Hair loss
  • Pimple-like blemishes
  • If the areas around the eyes are affected: madarosis (loss of eyelashes), red eyes, scaling and/or thickening of the lids, and decreased vision.

Treatment

The way demodicosis is treated depends on the area of the body affected, the severity of the problems, and the person's other medical conditions. Here are a few examples to keep in mind:

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