Demodex are tiny mites found in or near hair follicles. They are most commonly found on the face and around the eyelashes, and they are present on nearly every human being (to some extent). They are usually about 0.3 mm long, have eight legs, and their body is covered in scales for anchoring into a hair follicle. They eat skin cells and oils which accumulate in hair follicles. Demodex mites are mostly nocturnal and can be transferred via contact. Itchy yet?!
There are two distinct types of demodex: Demodex brevis and demodex folliculorum. Demodex folliculorum live in the hair follicles, while demodex brevis live in the sebaceous glands. Since the meibomian glands are sebaceous glands, this is problematic. We also have hair follicles on our eyelids, so the combination of this means that it’s the perfect place for demodex to live, replicate, and cause issues with our eyes.
As stated previously, both forms of demodex feed on oil, bacteria, and dead skin that our bodies produce, and they lay eggs and replicate rather quickly.Infestation is very common, especially in the elderly, and usually does not cause symptoms, but skin issues can develop from demodex. The mites are considered parasitic, however most of the time no adverse symptoms are observed. Those at risk for ocular and skin problems due to demodex include those who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and people who have other inflammatory conditions. However, if you don’t fall into this category, it doesn’t mean that demodex won’t be an issue for you. Each person has their own threshold of tolerance.
If your immune system is compromised or if the mite population grows uncontrollably, then symptoms can develop. Symptoms may include:
Using a tea tree based product on your hair, face, and eyelashes every day helps to support healthy eyelids and lashes. I use Heyedrate Handmade Organic Tea Tree Oil Soap for my hair and body, and I’ve begun to use Heyedrate Foaming Tea Tree Face Wash on my face at night.
As you can see, there are a few ways to go about a morning and evening eyelid hygiene routine. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and having the right products is key.
The main points are, make sure you’re thoroughly removing all makeup at the end of the day, wash your face with a tea tree oil-based product, apply a warm compress (skip this if you’re more sensitive afterward), and finish with a hypochlorous acid cleanser.
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