Demodex Brevis: Causes & Treatment

Demodex Brevis is an insect like organism referred to as a mite that lives in the hair follicles of humans, specifically the oil glands. It has very close links with another form of mite called Demodex folliculorum and combination of both of these mites is called as Demodex. There have been various studies conducted which have shown that in around 10% of skin biopsies these mites have been found. The number goes up to 12% when hair follicles were analyzed of the participants of the study. These mites in most cases are dormant and people may not even be aware that they are having them. Only in cases where there is huge presence of Demodex Brevis are there any symptoms.[1]

While Demodex Brevis and Demodex folliculorum are quite similar to each other there are certain differences between these two mites. However, while Demodex Brevis is found mostly in the eyelashes and face while Demodex folliculorum is found in hair follicles. Another difference between these two types of mites is that Demodex Brevis feeds on skin cells and Demodex folliculorum feeds on oil that is released by the oil glands.[1]

The difference between Demodex folliculorum and other types of mites is that this mite tends to increase the number of skin cells and also give the skin a scaly appearance. The article however highlights the causes of Demodex Brevis and different ways to manage the condition caused by this mite.[1]

What Causes Demodex Brevis?

Demodex Brevis spreads through direct contact between people. Once this mite has infested the body it resides on the hair follicles and feed on the sebum produced by the oil glands. These mites spread gradually and this is the reason why they are rarely seen in children and are more common in adults. Another reason for this is the production of sebum is much lower in children than adults. There are also certain risk factors which increase the likelihood of an individual having Demodex Brevis mites and even have complications arising out of it.[1]

These risk factors include having a history of acne. People with a weak immune system also are at risk for having Demodex Brevis. People with sparse hairs on the scalp are also at risk for getting Demodex Brevis. Elderly people who get Demodex Brevis tend to develop complications from these mites and develop a medical condition called demodicosis. This condition is characterized by presence of lesions which are red and can become itchy.[1]

Demodex Brevis is commonly seen in people between the age of 20 and 30. This is because the sebum production in people in this age group is at its peak. Additionally, males are known to have this mite more than females even though the cause behind it is not known.[1]

How is Demodex Brevis Treated?

Coming to the treatment of Demodex Brevis, majority of the cases can be treated at home. Medical intervention is only needed in cases where the quantity of mites is significantly higher or certain symptoms like presence of lesions and redness are observed. To decrease the number of Demodex Brevis mites in the body, there are a variety of home treatments which include taking a shower daily to decrease the natural oils that are secreted.[1]

It is also beneficial to wash the hair with shampoo on a regular basis to eliminate the mites. Washing the face at least twice a day with a medicated cleanser is also effective in decreasing the mites on the hair follicles. Skin exfoliation is also one of the ways through which Demodex Brevis mites can be decreased from the hair follicles. Exfoliation causes removal of dead skin cells and sebum on which these mites feed on.[1]

It is also essential to take a shower after a rigorous workout or after being exposed for a long time to direct sunlight. If home remedies are ineffective in treating Demodex Brevis then medications might be required to reduce sebum production. The most preferred medication given for decreasing sebum production and treat Demodex Brevis include salicylic acid, benzyl benzoate, metronidazole, and sulfur. They are available in the form of creams.[1]

In severe cases or in people with a compromised immune system a consultation with a physician will be required and the patient will be given stronger medication in the form of oral ivermectin. It is also vital to manage any underlying medical conditions which may play a role in increasing the number of mites in the body. This is especially true for people who have a history of infections, eczema, acne, and alopecia.[1]

In conclusion, it may sound quite scary to know that there are microscopic mites living in the hair follicles but the fact of the matter is that these mites are completely harmless and pose no threat to the health of the individual. However, in cases where the number of mites is significantly large and the individual has a compromised immune system then the individual may have symptoms where there may be some lesions with itchiness and redness of the skin. These symptoms will require treatment with medications.[1]

Majority of the cases of Demodex Brevis can be effectively treated by practicing good hygiene at home like taking bath every day especially after a rigorous workout or when being out in the sun for a long period of time. Demodex Brevis mites are found to significantly more in people who have underlying medical conditions like alopecia, eczema, rosacea, and acne.[1]

People with a compromised immune system are the ones who tend to get the symptoms from Demodex Brevis. For such people, stronger medications will be required to eliminate the Demodex Brevis mites from the body. For people with skin disorders mentioned above keeping the condition in control and getting treated for it significantly helps in reducing the mites from the body and prevents and symptoms from developing due to Demodex Brevis.[1]

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