The Difference Between Sarcoptic Mange and Demodex Mange

February 23, 2016

Mange is a word that strikes fear in the heart of most people - and with good reason. Every year, millions of animals contract this itchy (and visually terrifying) condition. There are a few things you should know about mange, even if you’ve never had to deal with it.

First off, it’s important to know the difference between the two types of mange:
 Sarcoptic Mange

Sarcoptic mange is an infection of the skin caused by microscopic mites (known as Sarcoptes scabei). This type of mange is contagious and can be easily transferred to other animals and even people. However, it’s relatively simple to treat once you know how.
Canine Scabies 220x

Sarcoptic mites work very much the same way that ants work.
They dig complex networks of tunnels through your dog’s skin to lay eggs, then die. These eggs then hatch and the adult mites move on, digging more tunnels and repeating a very awful cycle. On top of this, they deposit waste in the tunnels as they burrow through, which leaves a serious infection, hair loss and more terrible symptoms.

The end result (besides terrible itchiness) can be whiteheads, skin infections, hair loss, and crusty scabs around the body.  Yeast infections almost always accompany this condition, often causing black skin and hair loss along with the severe itching.

Symptoms of Sarcoptic Mange: 
  • extreme itchiness 
  • hair loss
  • red, scaly skin
  • typically start in sparsely-haired areas like the ear flaps, elbows, and abdomen, but can spread to the entire body without effective treatment
Demodex Mange
Demodex Mite at 220x

Demodex Mange can be a more severe problem if left untreated. Demodex is due to an “overgrowth” of mites that are found on skin. (Demodex mites are usually harmless, and are present on all dogs, all the time.) The first think you should understand is that Demodectic mange is not contagious. Rather, it affects the immune-compromised animals.

Microscopic mites are hiding in the follicles of your pet’s hair and by the time you realize your pet has demodectic mange, these creatures have barricaded themselves within the deepest layers of your pet's skin. Each time they burrow down into another layer, they push more waste (in the form of skin cells and bacteria) behind them. All of that happens before you even start killing the tiny mites off.

Things will usually get worse for your pet when you begin treating and killing off these awful little creatures. Because suddenly, your pet is trying to rid himself of millions of tiny decomposing corpses, along with yeast, dead skin cells, and plenty of other things. They clog up the follicle, create very bad secondary infections and cause your pet to feel miserable.

Dog with severe Demodex Mange
Symptoms of Demodex Mange:
  • Patchy hair loss (with relatively normal looking skin underneath). 
  • Mild to moderate itching (may or may not be present). 
  • Hair loss may be widespread
Stay the Course

When treating for mange, it's important that you don't lose hope.

These conditions are 100% treatable and in most cases, all of your pets hair will grow back. It will take time, patience, and persistence, and sometimes additional support of Skin Rescue Lotion to fight the yeast that usually accompanies this disease.

Nothing is easy when treating skin conditions. But, stay the course of treatment and your pet will make a full recovery.

For more information, check our article: 5 Things to Expect When Treating Mange

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