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Link Between Microscopic Mites and Hair Loss
Everyone has hundreds of thousands of microscopic mites living on their skin and hair. Recent research from the University of Florida shows that these mites may actually be linked to thinning hair, as well as acne and a range of skin conditions. The bug, called the Demodex mite, lives on the hair follicles of up to 98% of people and feeds on hormones, oils and fluids that build up around the follicle. Up to 25 mites can live on a single follicle.
Most of the time, the presence of these microscopic bugs causes no harm and they live in balance with humans. Animals and humans already have a tolerance to the mites which prevents skin problems under normal conditions.
When the mites begin to reproduce and reach a high population on the body, however, they may leave the hair follicle and begin interfering with normal skin and hair function. This is when they can cause acne, hair loss and more. It’s even possible for a large population of mites to make skin slough off in some areas.
Studies have shown the Demodex mite is associated with a variety of skin conditions, although there isn’t quite enough evidence for a conclusive cause. While the mites themselves may cause some problems, certain skin conditions may just lend the ideal breeding ground.
According to a professor of dermatology named Dr. Frank Flowers, there is a weak link between the Demodex mite and folliculitis as well as acne rosacea, although no skin disease has been linked to the mites. In most cases, a prescription of metronidazole cream is an effective treatment option.
Looking at dog populations and how their skin and hair reacts to an overpopulation of mites may be most telling. In dog populations, there is also a link between hair loss and mites. Because the mites get nutrition from secreted hormones, high levels can cause an overpopulation of the mites. The mites probably pose the biggest risk to people with cancer, those under a great deal of stress and those with an illness that suppresses the immune system, as large populations of mites can grow because the body doesn’t produce sufficient antibodies to control the microscopic parasites.
If you suspect you have an issue with mites that may be causing hair loss or hair thinning, the best thing to do is see a dermatologist. The problem may be an overproduction of hormones that’s feeding the mites.