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Demodex - This mites surprise you!

19 June 2015

Demodex are microscopic cigar-shaped mites living within the skin of every dog. Most of the time, you would never know they were there as they live within the hair follicles without causing problems. In some cases, disease can result when dogs become immunosuppressed, and mite numbers grow out of control. This can either occur in young dogs with juvenile-onset disease and a genetic susceptibility to mite proliferation, or it can occur in adult dogs with adult-onset disease due to systemic ill health. The disease due to Demodex mites, called demodicosis, results in red inflamed skin, with black heads, scaling and hair loss and is not infrequently seen.

 

An adult Demodex mite

An adult Demodex mite

 

Demodex mites are in fact thought to colonise most mammalian species – including humans, where the mites live within the hair follicles and pores on our faces. We can’t do much about them being there, and its estimated that on average, we all have as many as 2 mites living within each hair follicle. The following article from the BBC provides more details, but if you’re squeamish, you might not want to think about it too much!

BBC's story: These microscopic mites live on your face

 

For more information about Demodex mites and demodicosis in animals, please see our Ectoparasites (fleas and other skin parasites) information sheet:

For dogs

For cats

For rabbits