There are 65 known species of demodex mites and 2 of these have been identified as living frequently on humans: demodex folliculorum and demodex brevis. Demodex canis dwells in dogs, but sometimes does infest humans.
Demodex mites dwell in the hair follicles and sebaceous glands of your skin. By and large, both species are found on the face near the eyebrows, eyelashes and nose.
The mites feed on skin cells, oils and hormones that build up in the hair follicles. At night they leave the hair follicles and come out to reproduce. Female mites lay eggs deep in the hair follicles or the sebaceous glands, and cannot be washed out. You have to wait for them to hatch, and then you can treat them.
They lay the eggs 20 days after mating, and the larvae hatch in 3 to 4 days after the eggs have been laid. In 7 days they develop into adults. The lifespan of a demodex mite is 2 weeks.
Infestation occurs via skin and hair contact, especially when you sleep next to an infected person at night. Demodex canis stays in your dog’s skin and prolonged direct contact with the dog causes a transmission.
Sharing towels and bedding is another cause too. However, a good airing in the sun or a cycle in the tumble dryer would make it virtually impossible to transmit an infection.
Demodex Mites Symptoms In Humans
By and large, the mites produce no symptoms. Mite infestations are commoner in those who have HIV, children having leukemia, and people on immune-suppressive drugs. Men are more susceptible than women given that they have more sebaceous glands which proffer food for them.
When there are symptoms and clinical manifestations, the features seen are:
- A mite bite, characterized by inflammation, redness and itching.
- There will be a sensation of ‘insects under the skin’.
- Inflammation of the eyelids.
- Thinning of the hair.
- Dilated veins
- Large pores
Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Demodex Mites
The mites live deep in the sebaceous glands and do not surface much. This means d. brevis are more difficult to eliminate. The eggs and larvae stay deep in the follicles and are covered with a film that nothing (including tea tree essential oil, pesticides and antibiotics) can infiltrate. The time from mating until a new generation hatches in 15 to 20 days is useless when it comes to treating the mites effectively, thus, it is very vital that you treat the infestation over a couple of cycles to catch the adults and stop them from mating again. A 3 month treatment period is very crucial, and you need to rigorously follow the treatment routine to get rid of all the mites.
The following home remedies offer immense benefit in getting rid of the demodex mites:
- Tea tree essential oil: This is the most medicinal of all the aroma oils; and helps kill the adult mites successfully.
- Clove oil: Is another effective essential oil that has strong medicinal properties and helps annihilate the infestation well.
- Borax: Has been recommended by a host of natural practitioners as well.
- Flowers of sulphur: These help deal with the itching and inflammation and also help destroy the mites.