Comparison of the two techniques for measurement of the density of Demodex folliculorum: standardized skin surface biopsy and direct microscopic examination

Br J Dermatol. 2010 May;162(5):1124-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2010.09645.x. Epub 2010 Feb 25.


Background: In daily dermatological practice, many dermatologists do not include demodicosis in their differential diagnoses, or the diagnosis of demodicosis is frequently masked by other skin diseases such as papulopustular or erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, seborrhoeic dermatitis, perioral dermatitis and contact dermatitis. There are two methods for measurement of the density of Demodex folliculorum (Dd): standardized skin surface biopsy (SSSB) and direct microscopic examination of fresh secretions from sebaceous glands (DME). No study has been reported in the literature comparing the diagnostic value of these two techniques.

Objectives: To compare the value of the two techniques, SSSB and DME, for the measurement of Dd in patients with suspected demodicosis.

Methods: Mite density was investigated using SSSB and DME in 37 patients with facial skin lesions suggesting demodicosis. Two samples, one for SSSB and one for DME, were obtained from a cheek lesion of each patient.

Results: Twenty-three (62%) patients were diagnosed with demodicosis according to their clinical manifestations combined with a high Dd (Dd > 5 mites cm(-2)) with SSSB and/or DME. In all the patients, the mean Dd measured with SSSB was higher than that with DME (22.9 +/- 5.9 and 2.2 +/- 0.8, respectively; P = 0.001). Also, among the 23 patients with demodicosis, the mean Dd measured using SSSB was higher than the mean Dd with DME (36.5 +/- 8.3 and 3.4 +/- 1.2, respectively; P = 0.0001).

Conclusions: We recommend the use of SSSB for the measurement of Dd as more patients with demodicosis can be diagnosed with this method compared with the DME method.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Facial Dermatoses / diagnosis*
  • Facial Dermatoses / parasitology
  • Facial Dermatoses / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Mite Infestations / diagnosis*
  • Mite Infestations / parasitology
  • Mite Infestations / pathology
  • Mites / growth & development
  • Skin / parasitology*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Young Adult