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Is Rosacea Contagious?


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There are no known articles that have actually studied whether rosacea is contagious but any papers published about this question says that rosacea is not contagious. "Rosacea is not catching." [1]

There are some communicable skin conditions and here is a list. A recent paper published by Cell Host & Microbe states, "In a new study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have shown for the first time that, not only can infection with the Leishmania parasite alter the skin microbiome of affected mice, but this altered microbial community can be passed to uninfected mice that share a cage with the infected animals." An article discussing this paper says, "To my knowledge, this is the first case where anyone has shown that a pre-existing skin microbiome can influence the outcome of an infection or a disease," said Elizabeth Grice, co-senior author and assistant professor in the departments of Dermatology and Microbiology in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine. "This opens the door to many other avenues of research." "

Obviously we need better understanding of Microbiome-based therapeutic strategies.

Demodectic Rosacea May Be Contagious

Danners points out in post #10, "This question has been asked several times on this forum, with similar experiences described by the person posing the question. Doctors and online medical articles say these are not communicable diseases, however there are several, if not hundreds of anecdotal posts on acne.org, reddit and this forum that say otherwise." Are we discussing demodectic rosacea now?

A point worth mentioning is that babies do not have demodex mites. So how do most humans have demodex mites on their skin if they are not transferred? So therefore, isn't it possible to 'catch' demodectic rosacea, which is a variant of rosacea?

One paper on this subject states, "The transfer of Demodex mites between individuals appears to happen less frequently than the transfer of lice (Pediculus humanus), another human-associated arthropod species, as would be expected considering the more external habitat of lice in comparison with these pore-dwelling mites." [2] Another paper explains, "Conversely, if Demodex lack strong geographic structure, it suggests the movement of mites among humans must occur very frequently (perhaps even with social greeting rituals) and across large geographic distances." [3] This same source states the following about transmission of mites between humans: 

"Little is known about the transmission of mites among humans. Recent studies find that many symbiotic microbes are passed directly from mother to offspring during breast-feeding or during birth (especially if birth is vaginal), and dogs acquire their Demodex mites as nursing pups. In light of this, the same means of mite transmission seems possible in humans, supported by the fact that in one study, Demodex mites were found in 77% of nipple tissue from mastectomies. Yet that we found mites on all adults but only 70% of 18 year olds, suggests that perhaps mite colonization does not strictly occur vertically, from parent to child. These results are in line with earlier morphological (largely postmortem) studies in which mites were found to be more prevalent on adults than on children. Mites could be more ubiquitous on children than noted in postmortem studies or herein but at levels or in locations that make the mites difficult to detect even with the use of molecular approaches. One study of Demodex mites on Tokelau islanders found that mites were present on a greater number of children than on adults. These conflicting findings highlight our limited understanding of how and when mites move onto and among human bodies." [3]

"Presumably, Demodex passes to newborns through close physical contact after birth; however, due to low sebum production, infants and children lack significant Demodex colonization....Infestation of both species is more common in males than in females, with males more heavily colonizing than females (23% vs 13%) and harboring more D. brevis than females (23% vs 9%)....The mites are transferred between hosts through contact of hair, eyebrows, and sebaceous glands on the nose." [4]

"Although Demodex mites are considered to be highly host species-specific, cross-infections between humans and animals have been documented." [5]

Logic concludes that demodectic rosacea may be contagious. However, why does one human (a) with rosacea who cohabits and consorts with another human (b) for many years not pass on rosacea to human (b) ? Obviously in such cases rosacea is not infecting human (b). So how can we prove beyond any doubt that demodectic rosacea may be contagious? A peer reviewed, double blind, placebo controlled clinical study should suffice to answer this question. How can this be done? 


So, wouldn't it be nice if say ten thousand rosacea sufferers got together and each donated a dollar and then paid a physician to study this subject and write an article that nails the coffin on this? That brings us to a different subject, 'how do you bring together 10,000 rosacea sufferers together who can publish their own research on rosacea?' Can the RRDi do this? Why not join the RRDi and join in on this 

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End Notes

[1] British Skin Foundation, Rosacea

[2] PNAS | December 29, 2015 | vol. 112 | no. 52 | 15963
Global divergence of the human follicle mite Demodex folliculorum: Persistent associations between hostancestry and mite lineages
Michael F. Palopolia,, Daniel J. Fergusb, Samuel Minota, Dorothy T. Peia, W. Brian Simisond, Iria Fernandez-Silvad, Megan S. Thoemmesc, Robert R. Dunnc, and Michelle Trautweind

[3] PLoS ONE 9(8): e106265
Ubiquity and Diversity of Human-Associated Demodex Mites
Megan S. Thoemmes , Daniel J. Fergus, Julie Urban, Michelle Trautwein, Robert R. Dunn

[4] Indian J Dermatol. 2014 Jan-Feb; 59(1): 60–66.doi:  10.4103/0019-5154.123498 PMCID: PMC3884930
Human Demodex Mite: The Versatile Mite of Dermatological Importance
Parvaiz Anwar Rather and Iffat Hassan

[5] Iran J Parasitol. 2017 Jan-Mar; 12(1): 12–21.
PMCID: PMC5522688
Human Permanent Ectoparasites; Recent Advances on Biology and Clinical Significance of Demodex Mites: Narrative Review Article
Dorota LITWIN,  WenChieh CHEN, Ewa DZIKA, and Joanna KORYCIŃSKA

For more information on the study of demodex mites, read Megan Thoemmes, PhD Student | Dunn Lab


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