Mites (demodex mites)
Mites on human skin
Demodex mites live in hair follicles and sebaceous (oil) glands on the skin. Sometimes they are known as eyelash mites. Both species are primarily found on the face near the nose, the eyebrows and eyelashes. They also occur elsewhere on the body, such as around the ears, on the scalp, and in skin folds.
Demodex folliculorum mites live in the hair follicles. The adult mites are between 0.3 mm and 0.4 mm long, with a semi-transparent body. You can see fully grown adults with the naked eye, but a microscope is useful for a more reliable examination.
Demodex brevis live in the sebaceous glands connected to hair follicles. The adult mites are up to 0.2 mm long, with a semi-transparent body. You need a microscope to examine a plucked hair or thick oil squeezed from a gland to check for infestation.
Mites are transferred by skin and hair contact, particularly by sleeping with a person in close contact at night.
The mites eat skin-cells, hormones and oils (sebum) which accumulate in the hair follicles. Their digestive system is so efficient and results in so little waste that they have no excretory orifice. At night they leave the hair follicles and come out to mate. Eggs are laid deep in the hair follicles or oil glands, and are impossible to wash out. You have to wait for them to hatch, and then treat the mites.
The legged larvae hatch 3-4 days after the eggs are laid. It takes about a week for the larvae to develop into adults. The total lifespan of a demodex mite is several weeks. The dead mites decompose inside the hair follicles or sebaceous glands. For this reason mite treatment must last 6-8 weeks.
Symptoms of mite infestation
For the majority of people, mites cause no symptoms. It seems that in older people, and those with suppressed immune systems (caused by stress or illness), the mite population can dramatically increase. The infestation causes a condition known as demodicosis or mite bite, characterised by itching, inflammation and other skin disorders.
- Blepharitis (inflammation of the edge of eyelids).
- Large pores.
- Dilated veins.
- Thin hair.
- Adult acne.
Tea tree oil and tea tree oil shampoo are the most effective treatment to kill mites. See visitors experience with remedies.