Eyelash Mites Symptoms, Treatment of Demodex, Facial or Mites on Eyelashes

In summary

  • What are eyelash mites
  • How do you get these mites on eyelashes
  • Eyelash or face mites pictures, images or photos
  • Symptoms of mites in eyelashes
  • How to get rid of eyelash mites, treatments and remedies

What are Eyelash Mites?

Eyelash mites also known as demodex “is a genus of a parasitic mites that live in or near hair follicles of mammals” [wikipedia.org]. There are about 65 different species of demodex with only two species known to attack human beings, i.e. the Demodex brevis and Demodex folliculorum both of which are commonly refers as to face mites. However, eyelash mites only refers to demodex folliculorum. 

Eyelash mites on hair follicles - Courtesy of science photo library

Lash mites on hair follicles – Courtesy of science photo library

The demodex brevis is normally found on the sebaceous glands while the demodex folliculorum (follicle mites) is found on hair follicles. Both these two species are commonly found on facial areas and thus at times know as face mites especially on areas near your cheeks, forehead, chin, eyebrows, eyelashes as well as your nose.

However, they can also be found on other body parts i.e. “Demodex has been found in the hairs of the ear canal, nipple, groin, chest, forearm, penis, and butt too” [discovermagazine.com]

1. Face mites or eyelash mite Facts

An adult follicle mites or lash mites is around 0.3–0.4mm long although the Demodex brevis is a little shorter. They have “semitransparent, elongated body that consists of two fused segments. Eight short, segmented legs are attached to the first body segment” [wikipedia.org].

So as to be able to attach or anchor themselves to your eyelash hair follicles, their bodies are covered with scales. Eyelash or face mites often feed on your skin cells and sebum (oils) which often accumulate on your skin pores as well as in hair follicles using their pointed pin-like mouth. Owing their small size don’t be surprised if you have well over 25 mites on one eyelash follicle.

Since they do not like light, they have the ability to leave your hair follicle and crawl around your skin at night. Female lash mites are slightly rounder and bigger in size compared to male and they undergo internal fertilization since they have a genital opening.

Mating of the mites on eyelashes happens on the opening of a hair follicle while their eggs are laid on sebaceous glands or in your eyebrow or eyelash hair follicles. It takes 4 days for the eggs to hatch to a 6 legged larvae which will grow into an adult mite after 7 days. “A single mite can lay more than two dozen eggs inside one follicle” [wisegeek.org]. Their lifespan is several weeks.

2. Eyelash Mite Prevalence

According to Wikipedia, ‘older people are much more likely to carry the mites; about a third of children and young adults, half of adults, and two-thirds of elderly people are estimated to carry the mites.” Since children do not produce much sebum, prevalence rates are lower in this age set.  In fact, according to American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “about 80% of people over the age of 60 are affected with eyelash mites”.

Causes of facial mites or how do you get eyelash mites

If you think hygiene could be a main reason why you have mites in eyelashes, you are wrong since scientists have shown no relationship between personal hygiene and infestation of these mites. They have only noted that some hosts are much preferred by face mites than others.

However, there seems a connection between eyelash mites and mascara as women who wear a lot of mascara tend to have a higher prevalence of these mites on their eyelashes. This is the same case for people who wear a lot of eye makeup in general.

Furthermore, people who have oily skins tend to be more vulnerable to mites on eyelashes than those who do not have much. This could be perhaps due to the fact that they feed on these oils.

Not washing your face before you go to bed or sleeping with your makeup could also be a cause for the increased levels of face mites. According to Dr. Oz (of The Oprah Show fame), 50% of Americans have eyelash mites as a result of sleeping in eye makeup [consumerhealthdigest.com]

Demodex or eyelash mites pictures, images and photos

To help you figure how mites on eyelashes look like, we have included a few eyelash mite photos and images below. Being very small, you can only expect to see their pictures under microscope.

Eyelash mites under a microscope

Eyelash mites under a microscope

Eyelash mites infestation on eyelash follicle

Eyelash mites infestation on eyelash follicle

I hope the above demodex mites pictures have been of some help.

Eyelash mites symptoms

For individuals with strong immunity, there might be no eyelash mites symptoms while for those who have weakened immunity that might be caused by diseases (such as leukemia, HIV), people with using immunosuppressive drugs or have much stress, these mites tend to show some signs. This happens as they easily multiply and thus observable symptoms appear. So what are some of the eyelash mite symptoms?

  • You will have demodex mite bite or demodicosis that often results to some skin disorders, inflammation or an itching skin. You will experience the inflammation and itching in the morning since these mites crawl out of you eyelash follicles at night, mate, lay eggs and crawl back into your follicle in the morning.
  • Rosacea is another common sign you have lash mites as these mites “ often cause inflammatory skin diseases including rosacea” [acaai.org]. “Rosacea may be caused not by the mites themselves, but by the bacteria in their faeces [discovermagazine.com].
  • Blepharitis, an eyelid inflammation condition characterized by crusty, swollen, reddened, burning and itchy eyelids.
  • Affected people may suffer from acne vulgaris as these mites often promote acne vulgaris.
  • Eyelash falling out in case there are so many of them in one single eyelash follicle.
  • Severe infestation of face mites can lead to eye and skin infection.

It is normal for doctors to ignore the presence of mites in eyelashes unless they are able to notice some eyelash mite symptoms.

Eyelash mites treatment or demodex mites treatment

By now, you must be wondering if you too have these worm-like mites or not. If you suspect to be having them, the next big concern will be how to get rid of eyelash mites. We are going to discuss the various ways to use to treat demodex mites on your eyelashes or eyebrows.

1. Proper eyelid cleansing

The first way to get rid of mites on eyelashes is to carefully and thoroughly clean your eyelids, including the edges of your eyelids to remove all the oils that these mites feed on. You can use baby shampoo, tea tree shampoo or any special cleansers to ensure your eyelids are thoroughly cleaned.

In addition, you can use “no tear baby soap to wash your face twice a day” [consumerhealthdigest.com] as this can ensure you keep human facial mites off your face.

2. Over the counter antibiotic ointments

The second way to treat demodex mites is using antibiotic ointments. However, you need to ensure these ointments are ophthalmologically tested to ensure they do not affect your eyes. A good way is to get a recommendation from an ophthalmologist.

Alternatively, you can try “Tobradex (tobramycin 0.3% and dexamethasone 0.1% sterile ophthalmic suspension and ointment, Alcon)” [eyeworld.org].  Furthermore, “drop or two of TetraVisc (tetracaine 0.5%, Cynacon/OcuSoft) [healio.com] will be helpful

Eyelash mites treatment tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is one simple way to get rid of mites in eyelashes. Rub tea tree oil on your eyelashes every night for about six weeks and they will be gone. This is one of the popular Dr. Oz eyelash mites treatments you can try as it was once recommended by Dr. Oz.  As a matter of fact, tea tree oil is a great way to kill eyelash mites but needs proper use to avoid it getting into your eyes.

Furthermore, when cleaning your face, any product that has tea tree oil will be important in dealing with these mites, especially if you also have the genus that stays in the sebaceous glands.

The use of tea tree oil is further supported by  Scheffer C.G. Tseng, M.D., director of the Ocular Surface Center and medical director, Ocular Surface Research & Education Foundation at TissueTech, Miami who notes that “tea tree oil lid scrubs seem to eradicate the mites” [eyeworld.org]. If used well, it can kill the mites on your eyelashes as well as their eggs in your follicles if you can get it there.

Finally, you can “apply 5% tea tree oil cream/ointment daily to cover the skin around the lids to prevent mating and re-infestation from the skin around the eye” [medscape.com].

Eyelash mites lavender oil Treatment

In a similar way you use tea tree oil to kill eyelash mites, you can also use lavender oil.  This is a simple home remedy can work effectively as a demodex mites treatment. Apply or rub lavender oil on your eyelids every night as you go to sleep.

Eyelash mites and mascara, stop using eye makeup

Stop using your eye makeup until you have fully treated mites on your eyelashes. When you finally begin using makeup again after the mites have fully been treated, throw away any makeup you initially had and buy new ones to avoid contamination. Furthermore, ensure you do not share eye makeup.

More tips on how to get rid of eyelash mites

Besides the above ways to kill demodex mites on face, below are some tips that can ensure you completely deal with this nuisance of mites in eyelashes.

  • If you are married, ensure you spouse is also checked for face mites. These mites can move from one spouse to another easily due to the scaly body that gets attached easily on hair strands i.e. they spread via casual contant.
  • Ensure your pets are checked since they too can be vulnerable to these mites. Although, the ones that affect dogs are of a different genus, human eyelash mites can also be hosted in pets.
  • Buy new pillows and bed sheets since these mites might be hiding in them. If you do not do so, even after treatment, it is easy to get re-infected.
  • You can also try various specialized products in the market especially lotions such as Demodex Lotion Eyes n Mites.
  • Rubbing your eyelids with Ocusoft plus Lid Scrub pads (Cynacon/Ocusoft) and letting it stay overnight has shown some positive results in eliminating this mites after 3-4 weeks.

To conclude, you deserve to know that facial mites do help in removing the bad dirt and harmful oils on your face and thus have a symbiotic relation with human beings. However, when their population is so high, they could cause some of the mites on eyelashes symptoms we mentioned earlier.

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Sources and References


  1. Joan R. Lindsey Mar 10, 2017
  2. Beth Jun 15, 2017
  3. Ella Liu Jul 13, 2017

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