The Mighty Demodex

demodex mite

I was researching rosacea and acne treatments recently, and I came across some very compelling research done mostly in China by Dr. Zhao Zhongzhou, linking rosacea and acne to a microscopic mite called demodex.  So I started taking sebum samples from patients who were suffering from rosacea and acne and I found that in most cases I could find evidence of the demodex mite, I have a video camera on my microscope and was able to capture this mite  from a sample I took from a patient recently (magnified at 400x)

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This little mite is likely responsible for up to 90 percent of all acne and rosacea cases, yet it is rarely looked for by dermatologists here in America.

There are two types, the long and the short, both which survive in the sebaceous (oil) glands.  They feed on oils, hormones and fluids around the follicle.  For most people, the mites are harmless and live in balance with their host. Like any infection, the body’s immune system is responsible for keeping the mites from overproducing. Mite colonies can spread unchecked because patients cannot produce the antibodies needed to control the parasites.

Dr. Frank Flowers, a professor of dermatology at UF’s Health Science Center, said “Under normal conditions, mites produce an antigen when they feed in a hair follicle, and then the human body makes antibodies against the bugs, thereby keeping their reproduction low and in balance,” Butler said. “The mites are actually needed to make the antigen that stimulates the body into making protective antibodies.  If you have high levels of hormones, you’re going to have high levels of mite reproduction because these anthropods obtain their steroids from the host.”  This is likely why many women experience outbreaks of acne around their menstrual cycle and why teenagers experience acneI’ve noticed that when many people remove dairy from their diet, their acne improves.  I used to attribute this to being a straight sensitivity to dairy. I now believe that the dairy may be just another stressor on the system that allows the immune system to not function optimally, thus allowing for the mites to reproduce at a higher rate.

The mite has a life span of about 15 days, and when they die the bodies decay inside the sebaceous glands. Since demodex spend all their lives inside the sebaceous glands, they physically and chemically affect the skin, reducing its immune competence, and causing allergic reactions in some parts of skin tissues, where acne breaks out. According to Dr. Zhongzhou, “If not treated properly with correct medication, the inflammation will reoccur. In more serious cases, the epidermis, or the appearance of skin, will be permanently injured, scars resembling the texture of orange skin will be left, hair  follicle pores will be enlarged, and the skin will become thicker due to hyperplasia. Sometimes, the inflammation even leads to superfluous tumors or lumps, and red nose.” 

The way that a demodex outbreak is treated by most dermatologists is with a Metronidazole cream. However many people react poorly to this cream, and Metronidazole is listed by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. I recommend a demodex cream developed by Dr. Zhangzhou that can be purchased here .  This cream works great for all types of acne and rosacea. It can take several months to kill off all of the mites. Of course I also recommend removing all dairy products as well.

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

 

 

22 Comments

  • marquita herald

    Reply Reply November 8, 2011

    Wow – this is fascinating and just a little creepy. Thanks for this really interesting article!
    marquita herald recently posted..How to Use Mistakes to Help You SucceedMy Profile

  • Dr.Weeks,
    this is an amazing find. I never had this issue with my body, and glade. I pray this information will spread throughout all areas. In Boston, we have allot of cases in each hospital. The young and old are affected and this tells it all. Most cases I have seen the people are huge on dairy products. I have little to no products used in my home.

    This should be information being share with Dr.s globally. The ones who deal with youth and elderly should be the focus point. If there is anything I can do with posting this information or getting you to be a guest on our TV show. Please, let me know and we can get something together for public awareness.

    Thank you Dr. for sharing this unique and unusual situation we all are affected by.

    You have shown continued support and I pray to continue to learn from you. Your a dedicated passionate leader in our industry and I am blessed to know you.
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  • Darryl Burgess

    Reply Reply November 12, 2011

    This is amazing, I just hope that with this knowledge will help reduce or even cure people with acne problems. I know with having teenage kids how important it is to have good looking skin. With that said, The skin care industry is huge,I just hope that treatment will be reasonably priced for those who require treatment.
    Great find I will research more for my daughter and possible treatments.

  • crescele

    Reply Reply November 15, 2011

    wow! i wish all blog/posts is as informative, intelligent, and interesting as this. Truly very fascinating, albeit creepy at times.

    Keep it up!
    crescele recently posted..Viens, Viens, C’est Une PriereMy Profile

  • Edyta

    Reply Reply November 15, 2011

    Very interesting post. Thanks.

    I like the video you took from your patient. I didn’t expect that China does such good research.
    Edyta recently posted..Try Group Stress Relief Activities To Get Rid Of Stress Once And For AllMy Profile

  • Kimberly Castleberry

    Reply Reply November 16, 2011

    How fascinating! As someone who has dealt with persistent, chronic acne even though I’m now 31 this definitely is educational for me! I’m headed off to do some more reading and definitely have a look at the likelihood that you may have just provided me a key piece of info there. Cool!
    Kim
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  • Eldridge DuFauchard

    Reply Reply November 21, 2011

    Oh my word! This is very interesting and to know that these Demodex have done a job on me in my lifetime! lol
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  • Larissa

    Reply Reply November 21, 2011

    Hi Dr. Weeks,
    This is so interesting, I always thought acne is caused due to bad nutrition. how can one get infected with this mite?
    Thank you,
    Larissa
    Larissa recently posted..How to get rid of scars- fast and easy!My Profile

  • CorinneC

    Reply Reply November 21, 2011

    I can’t believe those kind of things lives on me! Scary! Thank God their not visible to the naked eye!
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  • Chester Delameter

    Reply Reply November 22, 2011

    Dr. Weeks

    What an interesting post. I’m sharing this because I know a few people do have a problem with acne.
    Thanks for the info.

    Have a Great Day
    Chester
    Chester Delameter recently posted..I really need to write a new blog!!My Profile

  • RachelAng34

    Reply Reply November 22, 2011

    This is really interesting and just a little frightening. Thanks for this really remarkable article!
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  • Jewel

    Reply Reply December 5, 2011

    eeehhh!!! that is really creepy! :( been having problem with pimple, that means i do have this too! noooooooooooooo
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  • Clint Butler

    Reply Reply December 9, 2011

    There are a lot of Soldiers that return from Iraq and Afghanistan that have severe acne and other skin issues like to described. Do you think the that horrible living conditions and this little mite could have something do with that?
    Clint Butler recently posted..3 Ways To Make Videos Without A Video CameraMy Profile

    • Dr. Shannon Weeks

      Reply Reply December 10, 2011

      Dear Clint,

      The stress of war and the living conditions takes a terrible toll on one’s immune system leaving you open to all kinds of health issues, including A demodex infestation.

  • I was diagnosed with Rosaeca many years ago and for the most part can keep it under control. I used to go to a skin specialist many years ago who just prescribed this cream that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. thank you very much, I now understand why.

    I will have to watch what happens when I eat dairy and see how that makes a difference for me. Thanks for this great information, you have given me some hope!
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  • Tom Burt

    Reply Reply January 19, 2012

    WOW, I wish I had read this a few years ago. I have two teenage boys with acne. My 17 year old lives with his mother and she put him through the Acutane treatment. His acne is cleared up completely. His skin looks great, but I’ve heard negative things about Acutane and I hope he has no “bad” effects fromk the treatment.
    My 19 year old has scaring and his skin is horible. I might have to try this cream.

    Tom Burt
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  • Adelia

    Reply Reply February 7, 2012

    It was excellent post! I really had a good time reading about it, very interesting, very informative and really helpful. I wish I could visit again with your site and have some knowledge learn. Thank you for posting! Have a nice day. :)

  • MarryAnnh

    Reply Reply February 14, 2012

    I love the excellent post you have here for us…Thanks for this one!
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  • Kyle

    Reply Reply December 26, 2012

    Hi!
    What method do you use to obtain the sebum samples?

  • Mardio

    Reply Reply March 7, 2013

    Can you recommend a Dematologist in Seattle area for diagnose/treatment dermodex mite?
    Thanks much!!

    • Dr. Shannon Weeks

      Reply Reply April 12, 2013

      Hi Mardio,

      I personally do not know of ANY dermatologist that checks for demodex.

      • Diana

        Reply Reply July 23, 2013

        Dr Bernard Gasch’s office did a culture for demodex mites and prescribed Eurax, it helped with the flareups but they keep coming back. I just ordered the ointment from China. symptoms are now effecting my eyes which REALLY bothers me as it’s co much more than appearance.

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