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Never in the history of hair loss has one topic caused so much instant anger and conflict among hair loss forum members. The concept of microscopic mites on the scalp being a source of inflammation -ergo, contributing to baldness- is heresy to some and the Holy Grail to others. One thing is for sure, hardly anyone that speaks about this topic is without a really strong opinion.
However, in the opinion of the WHLO Editors, the fact that Demodex could be a possible contributing factor for Male Pattern Baldness should not be something that is overlooked, and we want to thoroughly examine this possibility.
What are Demodex?
Demodex is a genus of tiny parasitic mites that live in or near hair follicles of mammals. About 65 species of Demodex mites are known; they are among the smallest of arthropods. Two species living on humans have been identified: Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis, both frequently referred to as eyelash mites. Demodex canis lives on the domestic dog. Infestation with Demodex mites is common and usually does not cause any symptoms, although occasionally some skin diseases can be caused by the mites.
Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis are typically found on humans. It is extremely rare to see a human infected with a different species of mite, such as Demodex canis, though a few instances have occurred. D. folliculorum was first described in 1842 by Simon; D. brevis was identified as separate in 1963 by Akbulatova. D. folliculorum is found in hair follicles, while D. brevis lives in sebaceous glands connected to hair follicles. Both species are primarily found in the face, near the nose, the eyelashes and eyebrows, but also occur elsewhere on the body.
The adult mites are only between 0.3 mm and 0.4 mm long, with D. brevis slightly shorter than D. folliculorum. They have a semi-transparent elongated body that consists of two fused segments. Eight short segmented legs are attached to the first body segment. The body is covered with scales for anchoring itself in the hair follicle, and the mite has pin-like mouth-parts for eating skin-cells, hormones and oils (sebum) which accumulate in the hair follicles. The mite’s digestive system is so efficient and results in so little waste that there is no excretory orifice. The mites can leave the hair follicles and slowly walk around on the skin, at a speed of about 8–16 cm/hour, especially at night; they try to avoid light. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demodex
Demodex and Hair Loss
Some members of online hair loss forums strongly believe that Demodex mites are the primary culprits to blame for male pattern baldness. One of the common traits shared by those experiencing hair loss is an inflammation (“itchy sensation”) of the scalp, often experienced when there is a lack of lighting (ie. - hats, at night, etc.). Incidentally, it has been found that Demodex are not too fond of the light, and are active only in the dark. http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artmay00/demodex.html
More coming soon…