There are creatures, mites to be exact, called demodex folliculorum that may be living in your pores and hair follicles! If your scalp has an excessive amount of sebum (oil) and you have thinning hair, you are likely to have colonies of these pesky things. The demodex folliculorum feeds on sebum produced by the sebaceous gland (also called oil gland). Sebum consists chiefly of fat, keratin, and cellular material. The sebaceous glands are in the dermis of the skin and open into a hair follicle, secreting sebum.
See a diagram of the hair here.
Demodex follicullorum are worm-like mites with short legs, tiny claws and are layered with scales. They live head-down in the follicle. Before you grab the mirror to look for them, they are less than 0.4 mm long, so tiny that several can get into the hair follicle along with the hair. They can even live in your eyelashes.
Large colonies of them have been known to cause abnormal hair loss. When there are too many Demodex buried in the follicle of a hair they can consume so much of the sebum, robbing the hair of essential nourishment, that the hair will fall out. These mites are harmless and do not transmit disease, but when there is a large number of Demodex on the scalp, they can cause itching and skin disorders called Demodicosis. Demodex are not found in everyone’s hair. They are not found in the majority of men and women who do not have hair loss but they are found in 88 percent of those with thinning hair.
If you feel that you may be harboring a large population of Demodex and are experiencing skin disorders or hair loss, see a dermatologist. There are remedies available.
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