What Causes Eyelash Mites? Are They Common?
Demodex mites are naturally occurring and common. Everyone has them.
But some people, especially those with skin disorders that cause flaking and dead skin, tend to have more eyelash mites.
Indirect potential causes of outbreaks include:
Weakened immune systems
These skin issues don’t cause mites, but they do cause increased flaking skin and dandruff – mite food. Mite communities flourish when they have more to feed on.
Are Eyelash Mites Contagious?
Eyelash mites can be contagious. Close contact between people or people and animals can lead to the spread of mites when one of the people has an infestation.
Sharing eye makeup can also lead to the transfer of mites.
How to Tell if You Have Eyelash Demodex (Common Symptoms)
Eyelash mites are too small to see with the naked eye. The only way to know for sure if you have an infestation is to see a doctor.
However, you might suspect an infestation if you have any of the following common symptoms:
Itchy eyelashes and eye area
Redness around the eyes
Scaly, rough patches of skin
Worsening of other skin problems, such as dermatitis or rosacea
Severe or advanced demodex infestations can lead to crusted eyelashes, sticky eyes, and frequent blinking. If left untreated, the problem can lead to eyelash growth abnormalities. They can also interfere with one’s ability to see clearly.
Chances are they aren’t going to cause serious eye diseases or other health problems, but they are inconvenient and uncomfortable.
Symptoms typically only appear in moderate to severe cases.
What Not to Do if You Have Eyelash Mites
There are a few things you shouldn’t do if you’re diagnosed with, or you suspect you have an eyelash mite infestation. For example, don’t:
Use oily makeup products or lotions around your eyes
Rub or scratch your eyes
Have close contact with other people
Sleep in bedding that isn’t washed frequently
Can Eyelash Mites Damage Your Eyes?
Usually, eyelash mites aren’t a major threat. But left untreated, severe cases can affect vision and cause long-term problems with dry eyes.
Mites can also lead to inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), creating discomfort and vision problems. More often than not, eyelash mites and the accompanying problems cause discomfort.
How to Get Rid of Eyelash Mites (+ When to See a doctor)
You can keep eyelash mites under control with some simple home remedies. But once people have moderate to severe eyelash mite infestations, you’ll need to seek treatment from your doctor.
To diagnose mites, doctors take a small biopsy by scraping a sample of oil, tissue, and mite exoskeletons from your lash line.
They’re able to see the presence of mites under a microscope from the sample. If a mite infestation is present, you’ll receive a medicated ointment that traps the mites and prevents them from laying eggs.
If your mite infestation is associated with an underlying skin condition, your doctor will treat that, too.
Eyelash mites can cause skin disorders to worsen or cause problems with dry eyes and vision. This is why it’s so important to speak to your doctor if the problem doesn’t clear up at home after a couple weeks.
If you don’t manage problems with mites, it can make you feel uncomfortable, and it will be more of a challenge to deal with.
When a bacterial infection accompanies an infestation or eyelash mite infestation is severe, it might be necessary to use antibiotic eyelid creams or steroid eye drops. Medications include:
Auenova is a hygiene system that utilizes 0.01 percent of hypochlorous acid to destroy mites and their toxins. It is effective almost immediately.
Blephadex targets mites with a mixture of a gentle eyelid cleanser, tea tree oil, and coconut oil. It has an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect.
Cliradex is individually packaged moist towelettes soaked in a natural and preservative-free eyelid and lash cleanser. The cleanser contains isolated 4-Terpineol, the active ingredient in tea tree oil. The wipes are used twice a day for about 10 days.
Over the Counter and At-Home Remedies
If you suspect you have a mite infestation and can’t get to the doctor, you can use over-the-counter treatments.
There are tea tree oil treatments formulated specifically for the eye area (use once a week).
Severe cases of eyelash mites can lead to eye inflammation. You can treat eye inflammation at home by:
Applying warm compresses to loosen crust on eyelids
Gently scrub eyes with tear-free shampoo to loosen crust
Wash your face at least twice a day with a gentle cleanser free of harsh chemicals
Additionally, you can alleviate the symptoms of mites by:
Using artificial tears or lubricating ointments to keep eyes moist
Washing hair with anti-dandruff shampoo
Avoiding eye makeup until the infection clears
Replacing makeup products used before and during the infection
Avoid wearing contact lenses until treatment is complete
It’s common for mite infestations to recur. Observing proper eye hygiene and keeping your face clean are great ways to reduce your risk for recurrence. This keeps infestations under control and keeps you comfortable, even if you do have an infestation.
It’s important that treatment kills both demodex eggs and adult mites. If you only kill the adult mites, you’ll have another infestation once the eggs hatch.
Tips for Preventing Demodex on Eyelashes
If you are prone to eyelash mites or you are concerned you could develop an infestation, there are some things you can do to prevent the problem. For example:
Wash your face two times a day, cleansing the eye area with a gentle, tear-free soap or baby shampoo
Never share eye makeup
Avoid oily cosmetic products
Use eyelash wipes when you wash your face
Wash your lashes with diluted tea tree oil
Avoid getting close to someone if you know they have an active mite infestation