The eyelash mite is also known as demodex folliculitis. It is a parasite that is found in the hair follicles of our faces. They can be found in the nose, the cheeks, and particularly on the eyelash area. They are usually innocuous, and most people go about their business never noticing that they are there.
There are about 65 different species of demodex, and only two of those are known to attack people. They are the demodex brevis and the demodex folliculorum. Eyelash mites are only of the demodex folliculorum variety.
The demodex brevis is usually found on the sebaceous glands, and the demodex folliculorum is found on hair follicles. The two species are found on facial areas, particularly on areas near the cheeks, forehead, chin, eyebrows, eyelashes, and nose. They also can be found in other areas of the body. They have been found in the hairs of the ear canal, the nipple, the groin, the chest, the forearm, and the penis.
The mites are too small to see with the naked eye. They are so small that there may be over 25 mites on one eyelash follicle. They do not like light. They may come out of the hair follicle at night and crawl around your skin. The females are slightly rounder and bigger in size compared to the males, and they undergo internal fertilization.
Anyone may get the parasite, although babies are born without any trace of them. Older people are more likely to get them because their immune system is weaker. It is estimated that over eighty percent of Americans have them. The parasites position themselves face down in the hair follicle and eat waste and buildup from our skin.
They are really harmless creatures, and scientists have said that there might be a symbiotic relationship between them and people. The claim is that they take away dirt and oil from our follicles and we allow them to live off of us.
Despite the fact that the amount of these parasites might be very high, doctors usually don’t treat the patient for them. However, if their presence is accompanied by irritation, inflammation, or infection, then something needs to be done about them. The condition of their number being too high is called demodicosis. Sometimes, a high number of the mites in a single follicle causes the eyelash to fall out.
The Causes of the Problem
When mites build up to a high level, then there can be issues. Too many of them can cause your face to become infected, and your eyelashes may fall out. The issue is caused many times by too much secretion of oils and sometimes by the application of excessive makeup. The situation can be made worse by not washing your face before you go to sleep. It is estimated that 50% of Americans have the parasite because they sleep with their eye makeup on.
Proper hygiene is always very important, and you should wash your face before falling asleep. Eye makeup can be the cause of the growth of bacteria. Mascara particularly is known as being the cause of this growth. You need to wash your makeup brushes and use clean mascara wands to make sure that you don’t promote the presence of the mites.
Eyelash Mites Symptoms
People who have strong immunity may have no symptoms from the mites. Those who have weakened immunity (from diseases like HIV or leukemia) or have a lot of stress may show symptoms. This particularly happens as they multiply.
The following are eyelash mite symptoms:
– The mite bites can many times result in skin disorders, inflammation, or itching. The itching happens more often in the morning. The mites leave the follicles at night to mate and lay eggs and come back to the follicle in the morning.
– Rosacea is another symptom that come from the mites. Rosacea may not come as a result of the mites themselves but from the bacteria in their feces.
– Blepharitis. This is eyelid inflammation that consists of crusty, swollen, reddened, burning, and itchy eyelids.
– People may get acne from the mites.
– Severe infestation of the mites can lead to eye and skin infection.
Your doctor will probably ignore the presence of the mites unless there are definite symptoms that you are suffering from.
Eyelash Mites Treatment
After you have determined that you have these parasites, and they are causing symptoms, it is necessary to know how to treat them. The following is a discussion of these treatments. Luckily, there are a number of treatments that are available. If one doesn’t work, then you can try another.
1. Proper Eyelid Cleansing
The most important thing that you can do to rid yourself of these mites is to completely clean your eyelids. This includes the edges of your eyelids. What you want to do is remove all of the oils that the mites eat. You can try baby shampoo, tea tree shampoo, or any other appropriate cleanser to make sure that your lids are completely cleaned. Also, you may use no-tear baby soap to wash your face twice a day. This will be a good way of making sure that you keep the mites off of your face.
2. Over-the-counter Antibiotic Treatments
The second way to treat the mites is the use of antibiotic ointment. It is important to make sure that the ointment that you use is tested so that it doesn’t negatively affect your eyes. One way to ensure this is to get a recommendation from an ophthalmologist. You may use Tobradex or a drop of Tetravisc to resolve the problem.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a good substance to remove the mites from your eyelashes. You can rub the oil on your lashes every night for six weeks. This should resolve the issue. You need to be careful, though, that you don’t get the oil in your eyes.
Any product that contains tea tree oil will help with the removal of the mites. This is particularly so for the kind of mites that reside in your sebaceous glands.
Tea tree oil has been recommended by Dr. Oz and others. If used properly, it can kill the mites on your lashes as well as the eggs in your follicles.
You can also apply 5% tea tree oil ointment daily to your lids to stop mating and re-infestation from the skin around the eye.
4. Lavender Oil
In the same way that you can use tea tree oil, you can use lavender oil to kill the mites. You should apply or rub lavender oil to your eyelids every night before you go to sleep.
5. Stop Using Mascara
You should stop using mascara until the eye mites on your lashes go away. You also need to throw away your old makeup that you were using when you had the infestation. This is to prevent further contamination. It is also important that you do not share eye makeup with anyone else.
Some Other Tips on How to Treat Eyelash Mites
– If you are married or have a significant other, you need to make sure that they are checked for face mites. The mites spread via casual contact and can move easily from one person to another.
– Make sure that your pets are checked. They may also carry these parasites. Although the mites that affect dogs are of a different type, human eyelash mites can also be hosted by pets.
– Purchase new pillows and bed sheets because they may be carrying the mites. If you don’t do so, you can easily become re-infected from your bedding.
– There are specially formulated products on the market to deal with mites. One of these is Cliradex.
In conclusion, facial mites can actually help remove dirt and oils from your face. They have a somewhat of a symbiotic relationship with people. However, when their number gets to be too high, they can cause problems such as inflammation and irritation. Luckily, there are many ways that you can rid yourself of the parasites. If you have a significant problem with them, then you should pursue the care of your physician.