All You Ever Wanted to Know About Demodex Mites

Written by on September 18, 2012 in Demodex Mites with 17 Comments

If you search for demodex using Google’s Scholar search, you will find over 8,000 papers that mention them.

Further if you search for demodex and rosacea you will get nearly 2,000 results. So there has been plenty of research into the topic.

Whilst a clear causal link between the mites and rosacea has not yet been found, we do know a lot about demodex mites, and perhaps some clues about a link.

Demodex Mites Trivia

Here for your trivia pleasure, is a list of what research has uncovered about demodex mites, all backed up by research, not just internet rumours … The following are taken from a great paper – The potential role of Demodex folliculorum mites and bacteria in the induction of rosacea, Journal of Medical Microbiology, August 2012 [ref].

See how many of the following statements you already knew.

  • There are 100 species of demodex and all are specific to the animal they live on.
  • In many cases in the infestation of demodex mites is without any symptoms and overall their role remains a mystery.
  • The disease-causing role of demodex is understood in dogs where demodex canis can cause demodicosis, a serious disease.
  • Only two types of demodex are found on human skin – demodex folliculorum and demodex brevis.
  • Demodex Folliculorum is around 0.3 to 0.4 mm long, and live in hair follicles.
  • Demodex Brevis is only 0.2 – 0.3 mm long, and live in the sebaceous or meibomian glands.
  • D. Brevis is more difficult to extract as it lives deeper in the skin.
  • Demodex avoid sunlight.
  • The life cycle of a mite is from 14 to 18 days.
  • Demodex is found in all races of peoples in all geographic areas
  • New born babies do not have demodex mites, colonisation of the skin takes place in childhood or early adulthood.
  • D. folliculorum counts are a lot more more per person, but D. brevis are found in larger areas of the body.
  • Men typical have 4 times as many D.F as D.B, but women typically have 10 times as many D.F as D.B
  • Mite density is very low in young adults, even though their levels of sebum are high – a potential source of food.
  • Papulopustual rosacea sufferers produce sebum with an altered fatty acid profile that may appeal to the mites.
  • Both forms of human demodex mites have 4 pairs of legs.
  • When the mites emerge at night to eat, they move at a rate of about 16 mm per hour.
  • Originally it was thought that the mites and humans had a close relationship where they happily lived together, but that thinking has been slowly changing over the years.
  • Rosacea sufferers can have a density of around 10 mites per square cm, whereas healthy skin has around 0.7 mites per square cm.

So What ?

What does this long list of items mean? Well, you can be sure about the following statements for starters;
  1. You cannot catch demodex mites from your dog.
  2. You will have demodex mites already on your skin.
  3. Demodex mites have nothing to do with dust mites.
  4. Demodex mites have nothing to do with bed mites.
  5. Demodex do not come out and eat the dust in your house
  6. Demodex mites are so small that you won’t be able to see them without a microscope.

Please don’t add to the confusion that is rampant on the internet about demodex mites being arachnids that feed at night on dead skin and have rosacea parties building bonfires that turn into papules or worse ! Here I am doing my bit to only post facts. Boring I know, it won’t make any click worthy headlines to only state the truth about demodex, but good information is what this web site is all about.

Related Articles

Read more about: Demodex Mites

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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17 Reader Comments

  1. Frank says:

    good article!

  2. Lisa Pearce says:

    Am using Rosex for my roseacea and it’s brilliant. Can go without make up now.

  3. Frank says:

    Is there a connection between Rosex (Metronidazone) and Demodex or what do you want to say?

  4. Hi Andy,

    The recent media coverage of the cause of rosacea being demodex mites was the usual poor health reporting you expect of mainstream media.

    I have written here extensively about what is known about demodex mites and bacteria and rosacea. Follow the link: Demodex Mites for all of the articles I have written.

    I didn’t cover the most recent suicide as it is an unfortunate topic that really doesn’t help the community much. There was a similar story just a couple of years ago, sadly. There are some more articles under depression and anxiety for background if people are interested.

    all the best,

  5. Lisa Pearce says:


    This is an open forum for comments to be made and I thought that anyone reading articles on Roseacea have an interest in what it is and why they have it. More importantly (considering the depression articles and suicide) how they can get rid of it. I have managed to control mine regardless of what you say about mites and I felt that others with the condition would be keen to learn about a cure.

  6. Jey says:

    Thank you for this article, it is a good starting point for me to learn about more ways to verify that I have blepharitis (demodex). I definitely know I have rosacea, and I have had very irritated eyelids and have had eye problems for the past 3 years, even resulting in a corneal ulcer that required surgery. And it always felt like an irritation coming from underneath the eyelid, like a foreign object.

    My ophthalmologist never saw it as a skin problem, which is no surprise. Once again, I appreciate this website and the community.

  7. Chrissy says:

    I had occular first, then facial. I wearing my eyeglasses due to the extreme chemicals that I thought was irritating my eyes with my contacts. I started to get clear gel like filiments attached to my eyes. My long deceased eye dr, very much missed, had me use warm compresses then scrub my lids with a Qtip & baby shampoo. Then he dad me toss my regular contact lenses & get the daily throw away kind. He said it would creat a barrier between my eye & rough lid causing the filaments. I also could continue to use medicines he gave me , then just throw out the lenses. Open a new fresh pair next day-no chemicals or cleaning solutions. I used Tobradex drops that worked wonders! i aglso had punctal plugs in from another dr.

    My eye dr was a god sent! And he use to go to other countrys & help children with surgeries on there eyes at his own time and expense!

  8. DaveM81 says:

    I hadn’t heard of this suicide story before today, but hopefully some good can come from it, if it can help to make people aware of the torment that this condition can cause.

    I myself have often had suicidal thoughts purely due to my skin problems. Never of the severity that I have considered acting them out, but the ideas are there – that is where this condition has taken me. It’s also reduced me, a grown adult male, to full blown tears on more occasions than I can remember.

    And yet I’m very often made to feel, by the attitudes of Dr’s and even family and friends, that what I suffer from is ‘nothing serious’, because it’s only cosmetic, not life threatening.

    Those people should read this article. It’s more life threatening than it obviously appears.

    I hope that the poor girl rests in peace.

  9. Renee says:

    I’ve been fighting rosacea for 7mths now. Tired everything, antibiotics, metrogel, ivermectin, I have been taking a low dose 100mg a day of doxycline was still using metrogel and getting no where. I had bought some mascara that would dye your lashes an stay for 4 days. All makeup would make my eyes just tear. Well it sounds crazy but it felt like waterproof mascara and i hate it on my eyes. So i grabbed my 100percent teatree oil, which i had bought for my nails. Washed my lashes with it and treated my face. Had already treated house for dust mites and been changing pillow case. bought a new latex pillow which dust mites can’t inhibit. I had thrown old latex pillow out. Just mention bug and i had just about lost it. It’s only been 2days and my eyes are great not watering with makeup and face is clearing up. keep you updated.



  10. Raymond says:

    Hello There,

    I have been going crazy for the past few months with this awful sensation of bugs crawling on my skin, but I can’t seem them. After reading several articles, it seems I may have found the cause (demodex mites) and curious to see if after personal treatment if these mites will continue to live in my bed or furniture?

    Do I need to treat anything other than my body?

    Your response is greatly appreciated and will bring back my sanity!

  11. Hi Raymond,

    These two demodex mites cannot live outside your skin.


  12. leah says:

    My problem started a year ago with my eyes, and then my skin itching, pricking, tickling, and began to develop sore, bumps, all over, think this is demodex. I found suddenly lots of moles- these appear often as tear shaped all slanting in the same direction. They seem to have a part in formation of moles; the ones on my neck are now gone. I had a small wart like thing on the innner rim of my eye and decided to remove it. It was difficult to pull out with tweezers and left a hole in the lower rim of my eye… no blood … thats when i realised it was a parasite. I regularly find them on my skin, and often pick them out of raised bumps, small but visible to naked eye, and you can see the shape of them with magnifying glass, soon to buy microscope. the nature of the sores and signs vary on different areas of my skin. i have tried many treatments; neem seems effective at killing them but i don’t think anything kills the eggs, and so they replenish all the time. Also sulfur, small amounts, between 3-10% in a oil or cream, which is more drying of the skin. Some of the reactions to treatments seem to draw them to the surface of the skin, which becomes apparent as they eat away the sub layers of my skin; I have not read this anywhere but I see it in the loss of structure to skin in acne sufferers. Also it might become raised up and reveals the area and how badly affected it is by size of the area raised up,which doesn’t happen in areas unaffected. I think they do live outside the skin, in pillows for example. i no longer have a pillow- I roll up a small towel as that can be changed every few days and washed in hot wash. I don’t know if Eurax works – crotamitin… every time i start using it i feel like things are getting worse and stop and start something else. I have tried and spent lot of money on demodexin. i have this thing over all my body and head and frankly that stuff is too expensive and the postage ridiculous. It is depressing. I went ot a dermatologist a few weeks ago, not he nor any of the GP’s I have seen have heard of demodex. i find that completely indefensible- negligent. We are in the dark ages with this thing and I think its reaching epedemic proportions. I am seeing so much of what look like the same thing in people who also didn’t have the problem a year ago; It seem to me it affects older women more ; no one talks about their skin!

    • Norma says:

      There is a pharmacy on Florida that helped me. ( caduceus Pharmacy ) they made an antibacterial wash and a cream that worked for me

  13. n says:

    Soolantra cream – just released (ivermectin1%) approved for daily use for rosacea – cleared my husband’s facial mites/bites almost immediately – no bites now for 3 weeks.
    He also uses sulfur soap in the morning and tea tree wipes at night.
    Finally a solution (the cream is costly, but works).

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