The Link Between Autoimmune Disease and Demodex

Human Demodex mites tend to gather on the face. This makes sense because our faces produce a lot of the sebum that mites consume and our faces are covered in hair follicles where the mites live. In most cases these little bugs are harmless; in fact, they seem to have developed ecologically to maintain a symbiotic relationship with people. They eat extra oil, waste and dead skin cells of our bodies. However, most dermatologists, immunologists, and eye health professionals are leery of the microscopic creatures.

Human Demodex Mites

Human Demodex Mites

Demodex appears in people as two different species. Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. Combined they are the most common ectoparasites found in the human population. They are endemic on every continent and are found on virtually every person by the time they are 70 years old. For the average person, in laboratory tests, they appear in 10% of skin biopsies and 12% of all hair follicles tested. The mites are arachnids, sporting 4 short pairs of legs. They are microscopic, measuring less than half a millimeter in length, and they only live about two weeks. During that time, they go through several different life stages, changing forms, each of which is spent on the human body.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology:

D. folliculorum is generally localized to the face, while D. brevis is more commonly found on the neck and chest. Infestation with D. folliculorum is more common than with D. brevis, but the latter has wider distribution on the body. D. folliculorum is usually found in the upper canal of the pilosebaceous unit at a density of ≤ 5/sq cm and uses skin cells and sebum for nourishment. Several mites, with heads directed toward the fundus, usually occupy a single follicle. D. brevis, on the other hand, burrows deeper into the sebaceous glands and ducts and feeds on gland cells. Penetration of Demodex into the dermis or, more commonly, an increase in the number of mites in the pilosebaceous unit of > 5/sq cm, is believed to cause an infestation, which triggers inflammation. Some authors consider the density of > 5 mites per follicle as a pathogenic criterion.

Mites are animals, and as such do build up waste in their bodies. However, unlike most animals, this waste is retained until the Demodex mite expires. At that point, all of the waste is expelled at once. As noted above, typically this does not cause any issues and the natural processes of our skin get rid of the waste along with other waste products.

Health Issues Caused by Demodex

Health Issues Caused by Demodex

There are several possible complications that can occur with Demodex mites and are cause for medical intervention. 

If a mite population becomes too large a huge number of mites can die at one time depositing an extraordinary amount of bacteria into the skin causing inflammation or infection. This is known as demodex dermatitis or demodicosis and has been associated with rosacea and other skin flare-ups. The same population issues can cause anterior blepharitis. Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids triggered by mites living in the eyelashes. It frequently occurs with other skin conditions triggered by mites, such as ocular rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. It can be confused with pink eye, though it frequently occurs at the same time. (Source). Blepharitis symptoms can include burning eyes, cylindrical dandruff on the eyelashes, irritation, itchiness and/or a gritty feeling. Anterior blepharitis can also lead to dry eye syndrome in which insufficient and/or low-quality tears are produced. This is an incredibly uncomfortable disorder of the eye and can lead to permanent vision loss. Dry eye syndrome can also be triggered by Demodex mites blocking the meibomian glands which produce the meibum essential to the oily layer of tears, and so is frequently seen in patients who also have meibomian gland dysfunction

Autoimmune Diseases and Demodex Mites

While these conditions are frequently associated with each other, they can also occur without any of the others accompanying them. In addition, each can occur for reasons other than Demodex. For people with an autoimmune disease, however, they seem to face both sides of this – more Demodex infestation and more skin and ocular inflammatory responses. A positive correlation between Demodex mites and autoimmune issues is well documented in patients with rosacea and those with ocular disorders

It should be noted that the jury is out on the causal correlation of whether in these patients the Demodex triggers the immune response or the person’s underlying medical issues somehow encourage a greater population of Demodex mites. However, there is no doubt that in some cases the demodicosis appears as an allergic, or immunological, response to the Demodex and goes beyond the infection from an overload of bacteria. (Source). 


Whether you are allergic to Demodex, you have an underlying medical issue correlated to Demodex infestations, or you simply have too large a population of Demodex, without treatment the symptoms you face will continue and progress. While certainly in all cases you should seek medical advice, there is one product you can trust to reduce the problematic Demodex population. Cliradex, formulated to cleanse away Demodex mites, use the most important component of tea tree oil demonstrated to eliminate them. T4O will break the mite population cycle and eliminate the problem while soothing irritation.