Last reviewed by Editorial Team on September 4th, 2018.
What is an Eyelash mite?
It is a type of parasite commonly found in the hair follicles of facial hair such as in the cheeks, nose, and eyelash area.
Most people who have it won’t even notice that it is there. In a medical standpoint, the condition is called demodex folliculitis.
There are 65 demodex species but only two attacks people. These are the demodex brevis and demodex folliculorum. Eyelash mites are caused by demodex folliculorum.
Picture 1: Eyelashes infested with eyelash mites.
Image Source: humannhealth.com
Photo 2: A close up view of an eyelash mite.
Picture Source: www.bumrungrad.com
Mites are very minute that they can hardly notice with the naked eye. On one eyelash follicle, there could be over 25 mites. At night-time, the mites may come out of the hair follicle and crawl around the skin.
Research showed that over 80% of Americans have eyelash mite. Babies are born without traces of eyelash mites but as they grow older, they are more likely to have eyelash mite due to weak immune system. (1, 2, 3)
Mites are not that bad or harmful at all. In fact, they have some uses in the body. They take away dirt and excess oil from the hair follicle. However, too much of anything is bad for health. If the number of this parasite grows out of control, it could lead to inflammation, irritation, and infection. It could increase the possibility of eyelash related conditions, to the extent that the eyelash will fall off.
Eyelash mites look like a worm. They feed on oils and secretions of the skin. This type of mite has a very sharp mouth and very short legs. It squirms around just like the typical worm. Eyelash mites are not in any way related to worms.
How they replicate? Eyelash mites mate and the female mite lays eggs in the hair follicle. A single hair follicle can have more than 20 eggs. Eventually, these eggs will hatch and mature. It would only take a few weeks for the newly hatched eggs to mature. (4, 5, 6)
What are the causes of eyelash mite?
- Excessive use of makeup
- Too much secretion of oil
- Not washing the face before going to bed
- Sleeping with makeup on (7, 8)
Eye mites in humans symptoms include the following:
- Inflammation in the eye area
- Itching around the eyes especially in the morning
- Blepharitis characterized by swollen, itchy, and painful eyelids
- Eye and skin infection (severe mite infestation)
- Acne secondary to mites infestation
- Eyelashes are falling off (6, 7)
Eyelash mites are more common in older people as adult tends to produce more sebum than children. People with a weak immune system are at risk too, especially those with HIV and cancer.
People with skin conditions like eczema and rosacea do have eyelash mites because such creature feeds on dead skin. (9)
How to get rid of eyelash mites?
There are a number of things you can do to make the eyelash mites go away. They include the following:
- Cleansing the area surrounding the eyes – You need to thoroughly yet carefully clean your eye area including the eyelids. Use gentle cleansing products to get rid of excess oil. A no tear baby soap can help thoroughly clean the area that surrounds your eyes.
- Antibiotic treatment – If there is a severe eyelash mite infestation, the doctor will usually prescribe antibiotic. Most doctors will usually recommend Tobradex.
- Essential oils – Natural oils, especially the ones with antibacterial property can help in the treatment eyelash mite. Examples are tea tree oil and lavender oil. Gently rub a few drops of oil on the lashes at night before going to bed and the problem will gradually disappear. These essential oils will not only get rid of the mite, but also the eggs in the hair follicle.
- Take a rest from using makeup – As much as possible, you should stop using makeup for a particular period of time. Eye make-up like mascara should be completely avoided until the mites on the lashes go away. Throw away your old makeup as it is most likely infested with mites. Sharing makeup with other people is a big no, especially if the person does not practice proper hygiene.
- Maintain a good hygiene – It is important to observe a good hygiene as it is the first line of defense against diseases. Keep your body clean at all times including your personal belongings. If you have been infested with eyelash mites, it is a must to get rid of your pillows and bed sheets as they are surely infested with mites too. See to it that you check your pets as they might have parasites too. (3, 7, 9, 10)
How to prevent eyelash mite infestation?
- You should maintain a good hygiene.
- Make sure you remove your makeup before going to bed, especially eye makeup.
- Always use fresh make-up. If your make-up has been around for more than a year, you shouldn’t use it. Lipsticks can be used for up to two years. Foundation, face powder, blush on, and eye shadow can be used for more than a year. However, mascara should be changed every three months.
- Wash your bedding on a regular basis including the pillows and covers of the mattress. Ideally, you should change beddings every week. Many people do it twice a week. It really is up to you to determine what fits you best.
- Avoid touching your eyes frequently, especially if your hands are dirty.
- Get your eyes checked regularly to make sure that they are healthy.
Eyelash mites may cause an alarm, especially for people who have never heard of them before. Eyelash mites are ugly little creatures but surprisingly harmless unless the number grows out of control. The key to preventing eyelash mite infestation is to maintain a good hygiene.
Follow the preventive measures mentioned above and you will surely not have to deal with eyelash mite infestation again. (3, 6, 8, 10)