This topic is deeply distressing on so many levels. Nobody welcomes the thought of creepy-crawlies living in their eyelashes, but if you’re knee-deep into your pets, like I am, and cannot imagine sleeping at night without your dog cuddled up next to you, the news is doubly unwelcome because there’s a high chance that he/she is transferring these nasty mites to you.
Demodex mites, or eye mites as they are called, can be passed from animals to humans, and these darned things love the warm, wet accommodation that eyelashes provide. Moist hair follicles are a perfect breeding ground for the mites, and they do it – the breeding, I mean – when it’s dark outside and we’re fast asleep. A single mite can lay more than two dozen eggs inside one follicle, and their lifespan is several weeks.
The Demodex brevis is normally found on the sebaceous glands while the Demodex folliculorum likes to live in hair follicles. Both these species can inhabit other facial areas as well – eyebrows, chin, cheek, inside the nose – and will even colonize hairy patches in other parts of the body, like chest, underarms. Etc…
Hygiene has little to do with a Demodex mite infestation. They show a preference for people with oily skin, for women who wear mascara, for older people (according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, about 80% of people over the age of 60 are affected with eyelash mites). Children, who produce low levels of sebum are not as vulnerable as other age groups. And yes, people with no pets get them too.
Common Symptoms Of Demodex Mites
- Inflammation and itching. Typically this will be felt in the morning after they have finished mating and laying eggs in the night and have crawled back in again into your hair follicles to sleep through the daylight hours.
- If you suffer from Rosacea, you need to get checked for eyelash mites. The red/pink skin inflammatory disease is not caused directly by the mites, but by the bacteria in their feces.
- Crusty, red, swollen eyelids (known as Blepharitis)
- Acne Vulgaris
- Falling eyelashes
How To Home-Treat Eyelashes For Demodex Mites
- Thorough cleaning of eyelids with baby shampoo or any other eye-safe special cleansers. You can also use no-tear baby soap to wash your face 2-3 times a day.
- Over-the-counter antibiotic ointments that are eye safe. It’s always better to get a recommendation for this from your eye doctor.
- Tea tree oil is a great help with clearing up mites. Rubbing tea tree oil (in eye-safe ratio, please! Pure tea tree is very strong) into your lashes every night ought to get rid of the colony in about 6 weeks. Use a 5% tea tree oil cream around the lids. Apply carefully with a cotton swab, so as not to get the stuff into your eye.
- Lavender oil works effectively as well if you apply some to your lash follicles every night.
- Change your eye makeup regularly, especially mascara.
- Wash and de-mite the dog. (Remember the poor pooch may not be responsible. The mites may have entered your lashes in a hundred of other ways. But de-mite the dog anyway.)