Mites and Rosacea: Is There a Connection?

May 7th 2016

How the Mites Work

Two types of microscopic mites live naturally on human skin. Demodex folliculorum mites reside in hair follicles, while Demodex brevis mites live in sebaceous skin glands. An overabundance of Demodex mites could cause an immune response in the skin, or bacteria that live within the mites, may produce inflammation in the skin. Demodex appear in large quantities in biopsies of rosacea pustules, or bumps on the skin, in areas of the face exacerbated by the condition. Rosacea patients may have 15 to 18 times the normal number of Demodex mites as compared to healthy people.

Bacteria in Mites

A few different types of bacteria that live within Demodex mites may infect the skin and cause puffiness, redness and pain. The Irish study noted Bacillus oleronius produced inflammation in 79 percent of patients with type 2 rosacea, the type marked by skin pustules. Growths of Staphylococcus epidermidis appeared in nine of 15 patients with rosacea pustules in an Australian study, with no growths in other parts of the face without redness.

Conventional Treatment Options

Doctors generally prescribe antibiotics that destroy Bacillus oleronius. Topical creams and gels that contain metronidazole could reduce inflammation by killing the bacteria that live in mites. Doctors could prescribe oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, minocycline, and doxycycline. Certain acne drugs may also reduce redness, and laser treatments could lessen the effects of redness. Treatments with anti-parasitic properties could also destroy mites. When the number of mites on the skin lower or completely disappear, many patients note sensitive skin goes away with normal rosacea treatments.

Possible Alternative Therapies

Stress reduction techniques to alleviate rosacea could reduce symptoms since stress may cause flare-ups. Gamma-linolenic acid can help improve skin health, and supplements with evening primrose or black currant oil could make the skin healthier. Anti-inflammatory herbs added to foods or as a supplement, including ginger and turmeric, may reduce swelling on the face.


Researchers discovered a possible link between microscopic mites and rosacea flare-ups in 2012. An Irish study noted people with rosacea may have many more times the normal amount of skin mites in areas prone to itchy redness due to rosacea. These areas include the forehead, chin, eyes, nose and cheeks. Although doctors are not quite sure why, these mites may cause this painful facial condition.

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