Mites That Live in a Human's Hair

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A mite that can lay twenty-five eggs on a single human hair follicle, live from fourteen to eighteen days, and is prevalent among humans may sound like an epidemic. However, because mites do not pose a serious threat, they are simply thought of as a fact of life, no matter how unnerving the thought of having mites might be.

Facts

  • Demodex mites are the most prevalent mites to be present in human hair. The mites make their home in the fatty sacs beneath the skin from which hair follicles emerge. The most common place for mites to live is on the surface of the face and in the ear canal, but they can live in any hair follicle on their host. Generally, people do not know that they have mites, nor are they negatively affected by them.

Identification

  • The most common type of mites that live within human the hair follicle is the follicle mite (Demodex folliculorum). According to Animal Life Resource, demodex ranges from 0.00394 to 0.0178 inches long, has a head that is "distinctly separated from the body," and "eight stump-like legs with claws." Demodex has tiny, sharp mouth features that are used to eat skin off of its human host. The mite moves slowly on the skin and primarily burrows and travels across its hosts at night.

Contracting Mites

  • Mites are a common occurrence and are present everywhere that humans live. Mites are more common in older individuals, but can exist within the follicles of any person. Typically, mites are contracted by coming into contact with another person who has mites. Other ways of contracting mites include contact with infected clothing or bedding. Because demodex mites are so prevalent and typically do not cause any harm to their host, there is not need to treat or to eradicate the mites.

Effects

  • The fact that most people do not know that they have mites is proof positive that demodex mites have little ill effects on their hosts. In fact, aside from possibly contributing to black heads and acne on the skin, demodex mites do not adversely affect humans. The only hypothesized ill effect that individuals may be contracting from demodex mites is rosacea, but the link is not completely established. However, when demodex mites transfer to animals they can cause red mange which can be very painful for a pet. Red mange can cause serious skin infections that will require treatment.

Prevention/Solution

  • Because the thought of being a host for parasitic mites is unnerving to many people, treatment for mites is something that many people consider. However, aside from good hygiene and exfoliating the skin, there is no recommended treatment for demodex mites. Nevertheless, if redness or skin irritation occurs, treatments that are used to treat scabies and other mites may be prescribed by a dermatologist .

References

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