If you have never heard of eyelash mites that doesn’t necessarily mean you have never had them. It’s possible that you just overlooked it or contributed it to something else altogether. Eyelash mites are actually a parasite that is found in your facial hair follicles as well as the eyelash follicles, eyebrow follicles and other places too. These mites can usually be found on the nose, cheeks and the eyelash line. Demodex mites will not hurt you or make you sick and most people are not aware of the fact that these little parasites that resemble worms are feeding off the oils on their face.
You are not born with eyelash mites. Babies have no parasites on them whatsoever. In general, older people are usually more prone to eyelash mites due to the fact that the immune system is not as strong. This allows the bacteria to invade much easier. In recent estimates it was shown that over 80% of all Americans have these invisible bugs in the skin. The invisible parasites are usually face down in the hair follicle and the feed off of the waste material and oil build up that is on your face.
Some scientists feel that there is a symbiotic relationship of sorts between eyelash mites and humans. The eyelash mites remove oils and dirt from our hair follicles and we let them live there. They don’t do any harm and won’t bite or anything of that nature. Sometimes, the numbers of eyelash mites, also called demodex, gets too high and then problems can begin.
Once these numbers become too high problems can arise. These problems can include the eyelash area becoming infected or inflamed. If your eyelashes become irritated, inflamed or there is infection present you need to get checked out by your doctor immediately. If too many eyelash mites are in the follicles the eyelashes can fall out.
There are 65 different types of demodex. Only two of those 65 are known to go after humans. These two species are the demodex brevis and the demodex folliculorum. Eyelash mites will only be from the demodex folliculorum variety of demodex.
You can usually find the folliculorum on the hair follicles and the brevis is typically found on the sebaceous glands. These creatures can be found in the groin area, the forearm, the penis, the nipple, the chest, forehead, chin, eyebrows, cheeks and nose. They can even be found in the ear canal.
What are the Causes?
Now that you are possibly spooked, you probably want to know how you get these mites and what you can do about them. We’ll start with how you get them. Most of the time, too many mites can build up due to too much oil being secreted on the skin. Sometimes it is from too much makeup being used. If you don’t regularly wash your face before you go to sleep this can also cause an increase of mites. Estimations show that about 50% of all Americans that have eyelash mites have gotten it from sleeping with their makeup on.
Other causes include not removing eye makeup properly, not cleaning makeup brushes properly and using proper hygiene on a regular basis. Despite the fact that everyone has them, an over-abundance of them that causes irritation is not normal and shouldn’t be ignored. The condition of too many eyelash mites on the face is called demodicosis. Severe cases can cause the eyelashes to fall out. Hygiene isn’t the main reason you have these mites. You can wash your face every single day and you can still have eyelash mites. It is just one of those unexplained phenomenon of the human body albeit a creepy one. There does seem to be a correlation between eyelash mites and mascara. Women who wear a lot of mascara can have a higher amount of these mites on their eyelashes. This is also true for those who wear a lot of eye shadow or liner as well.
Oily skin is another culprit. If you have oily skin you will be more vulnerable to eyelash/demodex mites but that could be because the mites feed on the oils. Oily skin means that the sebaceous glands produce oil in excess. Since some of the mites feed on this oil, you have just given them a great place to settle down and live. The best way to combat your oily skin is through proper facing washing and a good skin care routine.
Symptoms of Eyelash Mites
The symptoms of eyelash mites can be stronger or weaker depending on your immune system. If you have a really strong immune system, you may not have any symptoms but those with weaker immune systems may have a lot of symptoms. This weakened immune system can be cause by diseases, who have too much stress and other reasons.
These are the signs that you should look for:
- Itching of the skin – this is prevalent in the morning after they have come out to lay eggs and go back into the follicle in the morning which can cause itching and irritation.
- Inflammation (Rosacea) This skin disorder is a common sign that you have eyelash mites. Mites are often the cause of this condition. Rosacea could be caused by the bacteria in the mites’ feces.
- Skin and eye infections can happen when there are too many eyelash mites in the follicles.
- An eyelid inflammation called blepharitis, will have swollen, crusty eyelids that are itchy and burning. This you will need to get checked out by a doctor. This could be an eye infection or turn into one so more than likely stronger medication such as an antibiotic will need to be used.
- Acne that is not caused by other means. It is hard to say whether the mites cause the acne or if the acne causes the mites to multiply. Either way, when there are mites present and there are symptoms involved it is time to do something about it. Those with acne may have higher incidences of mite infestations because of the amount of sebaceous glands that are producing an abundance of oil. This gives them a lot to feed on which in turn leaves you vulnerable to having an overabundance of mites.
The only reason to see a doctor when it comes to demodex mites is if they are causing problems and you are having discernible symptoms such as swelling of the eyelids, redness or itching of the eyelids, etc. They may prescribe antibiotics or you can try the methods we have mentioned in this article to get rid of them.
Most of the time doctors won’t do anything about the presence of eyelash mites unless there are symptoms present. If there are symptoms there are things you can do to get rid of the excess mites. It is impossible to get rid of all the mites entirely so that should not be your objective. Young children are usually not susceptible to eyelash mites. Their sebaceous glands are not usually developed enough for the mites to have anything to show up for.
Older children, adults and the elderly are all more likely to get it also because their immune systems are weaker as they get older. Even if you have impeccable hygiene and wash your face every day, twice a day, it could still be possible for you to get eyelash mites. The difference is you won’t have an infestation that will cause all kinds of problems for your skin and eyelashes or other places on the body that you may have them.
Once you know for sure that the eyelash mites you have are causing symptoms of demodex, it is important to know how to treat them properly. We have listed the common treatments below that you can get started on. Throw away all your old makeup, makeup brushes and sponges and anything else that regularly comes in contact with your skin or eyelashes including mascaras, false eyelashes, etc. It may be annoying to have to throw all your makeup away, but if you want to keep from re-infecting your skin and eyelashes after getting rid of them.
- Cleaning the Eyelid Properly – Cleaning your eyelids is the most important step you can take to get rid of eyelash mites. This also includes the edges of the eyelids so make sure you don’t miss anything. You want to remove all the oils that the mites are feeding on. There are several shampoos that you can use to accomplish this. Some suggestions to start with are baby shampoo and tea tree shampoo. You can use no-tear baby soap to wash your face as well. You want to make sure that your eyelids are completely clean. Washing your face with baby soap twice a day will ensure that you get rid of the mites.
- OTC Antibiotic Treatments – The next way to treat eyelash mites is to use antibiotic ointment. You want to make sure that the type you use has been tested to not negatively impact your eyes. An ophthalmologist can give you a recommendation if you want to use this option.
- Tea Tree Oil – This substance is a good choice for removing the eyelash mites from your eyelashes. Rub the oil on your lashes for 6 weeks each night. This should take care of the problem and condition your lashes at the same time. Be sure not to get the tea tree oil in your eyes.
- No Makeup for two weeks – Give your skin a break from makeup while you are treating this problem. Even when you are not wearing makeup you should still wash your face with baby soap twice a day.
- Buy New Makeup – Once you want to start wearing makeup again, buy new makeup don’t use the old ones. Your old make up could have been adding to the problem. How you store your make up is important in the prevention of eyelash mites. Keep makeup sponges cleaned on a regular basis to avoid bacteria building up on the skin. The best thing to do to avoid the possibility of eyelash mites and facial mites is to use disposable sponges that you simply toss in the trash when you are finished applying your makeup. It’s really difficult to keep sponges that you use more than once clean.
- Have Animals Tested – Dogs can be susceptible to eyelash mites. Make sure to have them checked if you get an infestation. If you dogs have demodex mites there are things you can do to get rid of them. We will explain that process down below.
- Buy New Pillows and Sheets – You can choose to wash your existing ones in a clothes washer on hot water setting with detergent or buy new ones. Buying new ones is the only way to guarantee that there are no eyelash mites left on the old ones.
- Use Lavender Oil – Use lavender oil in the same manner that you used tea tree oil. This will also kill the mites. Rub this fragrant oil on your eyelids each night before you go to bed. You can also mix lavender oil with a carrier oil if it is too strong by itself. The same thing applies to tea tree oil which can be really strong by itself.
Proper hygiene makes a big difference when it comes to combating eyelash mites. Never go to bed with makeup on, especially eye makeup. Never use someone else’s eye makeup or let anyone borrow yours. Tea tree oil is the strongest product to use to get rid of the mites, especially those that are hanging out in the sebaceous glands.
Even Dr. Oz recommends tea tree oil to get rid of the mites. Used properly, you can get the eyelash mites that are on your eyelashes as well as the eggs that have been laid in the follicles. Applying a 5% tea tree oil ointment every day to your eyelids (carefully) This will stop them from mating and prevent re-infestation.
Unless you already knew about the fact that your face and body are hosts to tiny, invisible bugs that live in the follicles, this information could come as a shock to you and it could even freak you out if you REALLY thought about it. Most people are not super comfortable with the idea of tiny little bugs living in your skin.
The good news, such as it is, is that this is completely normal and about 80% of all Americans have these tiny little mites. The best course of action, now that you know about them is prevention. Taking care of the problem before it becomes a problem can make you feel a lot better but that is not always possible.
If you can act proactively, do things like we recommended above in the article in terms of cleanliness; keep your face clean by washing two times daily, keep your sheets and pillow cases clean, keep your makeup and make up tools clean and washed, and be sure to remove your makeup every night before bed with a good cleanser or makeup remover. All of these things are good ways to prevent an infestation of mites that causes you a lot of trouble.
Some scientists actually act like these little mites are a good thing because they feed on the oil and waste on your skin, but no one really thinks that tiny worms in your skin is a good thing. Face mites and eyelash mites can and do actually remove dirt and oils on your face.
The best way to combat this is through close attention to your skin care routine. Wash the face properly with the right product and do so every morning and every night. Thoroughly remove eye makeup with a remover or oil of some kind to ensure you are getting all of it.
Even though humans and eyelash mites have a kind of working relationship, it’s easy for the mites to get out of control by not taking care of things the right way. Poor hygiene can turn your facial skin and eyelashes into a food feast for the eyelash mites which can, in turn, cause the problems we mentioned above as well as the loss of your eyelashes.
It is easy to take care of these mites on the skin. By following the instructions we have given you, you will feel a lot better and not have the itching, irritation, redness and other annoyances that come with these little mites. Consistency is the key so take care of your skin the right way and keep it as clean as you can.