Demodex aka Face Bugs

This post was supposed to be published last night but it didn’t happen. I am now home and much too tired to write about that experience so I thought I’d post yesterday’s counts in the meantime.

Day +23

K+ 4.2
Mag 1.5
WBC 2.0
HGB 10.1
Plts 61

Today was better. A doctor and a NP came in and woke me up with big smiles and cheer. They opened the blinds and sat me up. I grumbled a bit until I saw that it was 9:00 am. They asked me how I felt? Tired. They teased me about sleeping in so late when they’ve been up since 5:30. I said, “well I have leukemia.” They didn’t have a comeback for that. However, I did get up and start my day even though most of my day is spent talking to doctors. I had visits from 7 doctors today. 5 of them visited twice. They are working on getting me out of here and want answers to a few symptoms so I can go home as healthy as possible.

The biggest issue is my eating or lack of eating. I’m not consuming enough nutrition, calories or fluids. They let me go on just fluids and IV while I had the mucositis but now they want to see actual food going into my body. My ticket home is 2 liters of food and liquids a day.  I have no idea how they measure food in liters. I know the nurses track every bit of intake. I choked down 1/4 of a waffle and 1/2 a bowl of cereal. Lunch was two eggs and a cookie. I was really trying to listen to the docs and eat. Dr Vasu stopped by and asked what I have eaten for the day. I said I ate a lot because I felt full and nauseous. She said it wasn’t enough. They are getting serious now. I know I’ll be able to eat better at home since the food stinks here. Don’t tell them but I let them count some of Jeffrey and Victoria’s food as my own. If what I had eaten wasn’t enough then I knew I would never meet their standard. We’ll see how I did tomorrow.

They other area of interest today and the issue that brought in the most specialist was a sudden appearance of a bright red and bumby rash on my face and chest. A group of dermatologists came in to see me. The goal was to determine the extent and severity of the rash and hopefully identify the cause. GVHD (graft vs host disease) is hiding just around the corner. Anything that could be GVHD is scanned, biopsied and grown in petri dishes to rule it out. They want to treat it immediately but don’t want to over treat because of risks.

So, the three derms head back up to look at more skin with a promise to return. They came back a few hours with the attending physician. He glances at me and said he agrees with his team and I do not have GVHD. I have Demodex Folliculorum.  It a skin condition in patients with significantly lower immune system. It is also the parasite responsible for mange in dogs. The head doctor said that Demodex is a type of carrot shaped mite that lives in our hair follicles.  At first I thought he was making it up. Ive had a hard distinguishing between fantasy and reality on occasion. Jeffrey was there. He confirmed that’s what the doctors were saying. My skin rash is from bugs. In my skin. Apparently when your immune system is down these bugs that live on hair follicles like eyelashes, eyebrows and scalp can over grow and have a party on my skin (doctor’s words).  He then asked to see my IPad.  He quickly navigated to pictures of these delightfully creepy characters.


Close-up of the little bugs


This shows the tail end of 3 mites that are buried in a hair follicle.

And what does it look like on a person?



Treatment for face bugs is time. My white cells will kick in and make everything better. The derm did prescribe a special gel to put on the rash but he said it probably won’t help that much and it will go away in a couple weeks. We would have picked up the cream anyway but it had a co-pay of $600.

So there you know, everyone has face bugs. Sometimes they can go crazy. I don’t have GVHD yet. And I’m home to really start recovering. More on that tomorrow!

Posted on February 7, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Face bugs-wow-who knew. I feel like I should look up the most random and least likely thing to get to see what obstacle you will be overcoming next. 😦 You are amazing!!!! Thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery at home:) I’m glad you are home! I bet the kids are super excited!

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