Nothing is quite as gross as learning simple statistics about gross bugs and their affiliation with human beings.
The eyelash mite, for instance, the Demodex folliculitis or Demodex mite, is a parasite that can be found in facial hair follicles and is altogether too common. They are discoverable on millions of different people in the nose, on the cheeks, and in the eyelash area, the latter being the most common. Even though you might not know it, it’s possible that you have some! Here’s how to know and how to get rid of them. (1)
What Are Eyelash Mites (Demodex Mites)?
Demodex mites are a unique genus that inhabits skin – or more specifically, they inhabit the oil glands and hair follicles. There are dozens of known species and it’s likely that they use a variety of different mammals as hosts, including but not limited to canines and humans. These mites survive off of the consumption of bacteria on the skin. They mate and lay eggs, but thankfully, their overall life cycle is slim. Eyelash mites live such short lives that their bodies are not even equipped with a proper process or even organ to aid in the elimination of waste products. They usually die within two weeks of hatching. (1, 2)
Generally speaking, eyelash mites and their host tend to live together peaceably without any irritation at all. This greatly contributes to the difficulty in discovering them. Even so, when the number of eyelash mites grows, an infestation might begin, after which multiple unwanted and entirely unpleasant side effects might commence for the host. (1, 2)
Warning Signs Of An Eyelash Mite Infestation
While not much is known for certain about eyelash mites, it’s believed that they are the cause responsible for rosacea flare-ups and even fungal skin infections like ringworm. Many skin issues are believed to occur when an excess of mites exists in the skin laying too many eggs and leaving behind corpses, therefore, clogging pores and hindering the skin’s ability to self-clean. While not all of these signs guarantee a Demodex mite infestation is going on, the following can still be telling signs: (1)
- Hair loss
- Itching or burning sensations
- Clogged pores, such acne or blackheads
- A rash-like appearance to the skin
- Flushing or swelling skin
How To Get Rid Of Eyelash Mites
Treating a Demodex mite infection and preventing any recurrences is an understandable desire. It’s good news, then, that there are many natural, home remedies for curing an eyelash mite infestation! Many of them are backed by empirical research and are incredibly easy to do: (1, 3, 4)
- Baby Shampoo (For The Eyes). Washing your eyes with baby shampoo carefully diluted with an equal amount of water twice per day helps rid one of eyelash mites (try using a natural shampoo suitable for sensitive skin in order to avoid skin irritation issues).
- Castor Oil. Some of the many health benefits of castor oil are its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. It helps heal skin infections and destroy mite infestations. Carefully apply it to your (makeup-free) eyelids before bed every night (castor oil is thick, so you’ll only need a small amount, and be careful not to get it into your eyes as that could cause irritation).
- Tea Tree Oil (NOT On The Eyes). Tea tree oil is one of the most effective natural remedies out there to battle Demodex mites, but it’s important to not place it near the eyes as it can cause serious irritation. Apply tea tree oil to other parts of the body or face thought to be infected with Demodex mites, as the survival time of the mites is less than 15 minutes when pure tea tree oil is applied (you can try adding tea tree oil to a bottle of shampoo or body wash and cleaning per usual with it).
There are many more essential oils that can help rid a Demodex mite infestation, but these are potentially the most effective. The bottom line is that it’s better safe than sorry, so if your skin is looking irritated and feeling itchy, try cleansing with some intentionality. (1)