Monday, October 15, 2012

It Might be Mites

According to a review published by the Journal of Medical Microbiology, scientists are closer to establishing what they believe is a bacterial cause of the skin condition rosacea. Rosacea, a reddening and inflammation of the skin, is mostly found around the cheeks, nose and chin. In more serious cases of rosacea, skin lesions may form and could lead to disfigurement.

Statistically, 3% of the population is affected by rosacea. The majority of patients with this condition are women with fair skin between the ages of 30-50; weak immune systems have also been linked to rosacea. While previously no specific bacterial cause had been found, rosacea is typically treated with antibiotics. However, the recent review by the National University of Ireland reports that bacteria within mites on human skin may cause rosacea.
These mites, Demodex folliculorum, are shaped like worms and live harmlessly around hair follicles on the face. The number of these mites increases with age, and the mites are more prevalent among those with rosacea, which has led to the indication that they are linked to the cause of the condition.
“The bacteria live in the digestive tracts of Demodex mites found on the face, in a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, who conducted the review. “When mites die, the bacteria are released and leak into the surrounding skin tissues – triggering tissue degradation and inflammation. Once the numbers of mites increase, so does the amount of bacteria, making rosacea more likely to occur.”
While learning about mites on the skin is a bit unsettling, the good news is that this discovery may lead to the development of improved rosacea treatments. According to Dr. Kavanagh’s review, some pharmaceutical companies are already working on a way to control the population of mites on the face, so new, more effective treatments for rosacea may be available sooner than we had once thought.

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