Opinion

  1. Ingrid Tarien Ingrid Tarien United States says:

    Good article. A few questions and comments for clarification:
    1. The mites have no anus and they eventually deteriorate or rupture after their 2 week lifespan (releasing whatever has been building up inside them). (There is reference to “the waste material that mites produce” but they don’t actually produce waste in the sense that they can’t poop, not having an anus. Maybe the reference is to what they have stored up inside them that gets released when they break down/rupture after death).
    2. I’ve read males outnumber females by 4-5x. They come out only at night (thus washing in daytime would have limited effect?). Nothing really reaches them inside the follicle and inside the pores as far as I understand. Can you elaborate on this detail please?
    3. They mate at night near the surface of the skin and the female heads back down to eventually lay about 20 eggs. An army of 20 from any one mite missed is a big threat. Would be great to keep them from mating.
    4. It seems that to be really effective, washing and treating should take place at night (away from light). I don’t know if such simple organisms have any rhythms that tell them what time is appropriate other than sensing bright light (if you cover an eye with a tightly fitting dark cup at noon, will they think it is night?)
    5. Does mineral (or other) oil clog their respiration and kill them? Little is written on Demodex from a phylogenetic perspective. I assume they respire somewhat like termites do, from openings in the sides of their body. If so, they should be capable of being suffocated by such - but reaching them/finding access to them doesn’t seem at all easy (they’re not on top of the skin; when we wash, we wash right over where they reside in the pores).
    6. Don’t know what they are made of (chitin exoskeleton?). With regard to using hot water and hot drying cycle, don’t they expire under water when detergent/soap is added (not pure water, as fleas also walk right off the water - the soap would break the surface tension of water and take them down). I don’t see how they could survive a wash cycle. Seems all air pockets would be pretty much gone in fabrics.
    7. With “jumping” from bedding to face - aren’t these extremely slow crawling .3 mm creatures who only move a very short distance in an hour. They don’t have the ability to “jump,” right? The word may be have been used figuratively.
    8. If they only live about 2 weeks, I imagine they don’t survive in the environment (and certainly can’t mate) - so the environment doesn’t seem like much of a threat unless you’re burying your face in something or using hands in a sloppy way (we don’t want them anywhere, but they’re still ubiquitous on humans). And humans only - they are not transmitted to/from pets (dogs and cats have their own species). I don’t know if they can survive harmlessly on another host long enough to live out their short life, but they would not be able to mate and make more (just like if they were on carpet)

    • Helen Cochems Helen Cochems United States says:

      Hello.  I would sure like to learn more about DIY treatments for scalp mites.  Your post provided useful clarification in many areas.  I especially like your use of the term phylogenetic perspective, which is new to me, and will help me in my search.  Thank you very much.

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