I recently read about Demodex folliculorum. From what I understand it is a parasite that lives in the hair follicles and feeds off the sebaceous glands. I have also read reports stating that this infestation may cause diffuse hair thinning.
Is this true? How common is this condition, and how is it treated?
Demodex folliculorum is a tiny mite, less than 0.4 mm long, that lives in pores and hair follicles. It is usually seen on the nose, forehead, cheek, and chin, and often in the roots of your eyelashes. Demodicids look like worms. People with oily skin, or those who use cosmetics heavily and don’t wash thoroughly have the heaviest infestations, but it is not uncommon for adults to carry a few demodicids.
Follicular inflammation produces edema and results in easier epilation of the eyelashes. Loss of lashes may happen when there are abundant mites located near one hair follicle. Demodex are harmless and don’t transmit diseases, but large numbers of demodex mites may cause itching and skin disorders, referred to as Demodicosis.
Diagnosis is through a high index of clinical suspicion. This condition usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. If symptomatic, patients may experience itching and local (not diffuse) hair loss. Treatment for the symptomatic cases include cleansing the area and even antibiotics for severe cases.