Demodex eyelash mites, also called "eyelash bugs," are tiny eye mites found in or near hair follicles. They are most commonly found on the face and around the eyelashes, and they feed on the dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil there. They're usually about 0.3 mm long, have eight legs, and their body is covered in scales for anchoring into a hair follicle. Feeling itchy yet?!
Infestation is very common, especially in the elderly and immunocompromised people, and usually does not cause symptoms, but eye issues such as blepharitis, dry eyes, and meibomian gland dysfunction can be exacerbated.
There are two types of demodex eyelash mites that live on humans: demodex brevis and demodex folliculorum. These two little buggers feed on oils, bacteria, and dead skin cells around your eyelashes and are a normal part of the hair follicles in humans. However, it is when they become overpopulated that they become an issue.
Demodex eyelash mites are impossible to see with the naked eye and they're constantly laying eggs so it can be tough to get ahead of them once they overpopulate. Demodex can cause symptoms such as redness and swelling of the eyelid margins, crusty eyelashes and lids, blocked meibomian glands, and dry, irritated eyes and eyelids.
Those at risk for problematic eyelash mite infestation include the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, and those with other inflammatory conditions.
How Do You Know If You Have Demodex?
If you think you may be suffering from demodex eyelash mites, don't hesitate to visit your eye doctor. Eye doctors (whether an optometrist or ophthalmologist) can pull out an eyelash or two and often view the eyelash mites under a high powered microscope in their office.
On a regular microscope or slit lamp, it can be difficult to see demodex, but we can see the remnants and signs of them. What we see are what we call collarettes around the base of the eyelashes, and this indicates that demodex is living there.
Demodex Eyelash Mites Symptoms
Demodex eyelash mites symptoms will appear along the eyelid margins due to demodex eyelash mites burrowing into the eyelash follicle. Symptoms of demodex eyelash mites include the following:
Dandruff looking appearance on your eyelashes
Scaly skin or an eczema/dermatitis-like appearance on the eyelids
Red, irritated eyelids
Very sensitive skin, which if you put anything on it it’s going to burn quite
We can actually see the demodex if we pluck an eyelash and look at it under a microscope, but you will NOT be able to see them by looking in the mirror
How To Get Rid of Eyelash Mites and Eyelash Bugs | 7 Demodex Eyelash Mites Natural Treatments
The basis of treatment for Demodex eyelash mites stems around good eyelid hygiene and a prepared tea tree essential oil eyelid cleanser. Below we will discuss different ways to enhance your eyelid hygiene, therefore decreasing these pesky eyelash bugs!
1. Remove Your Eye Makeup With A Tea Tree Remover
Makeup can give you confidence, but the leftovers can harbor bacteria that can lead to further issues with demodex. Do you ever go to bed with makeup on? If you answered yes, you need to rethink your eyelid hygiene routine (you can check out Dr. Jenna's routine here) Removing your makeup at night is so important for keeping your eyes and eyelids healthy.
We like recommending an oil based makeup remover that contains tea tree essential oil because the oil will dissolve all of your makeup (even the waterproof kind!) The tea tree oil will help fight demodex eye mites and get you feeling better quickly. Check out the Heyedrate Eye Makeup Remover Oil on Amazon.It only contains four ingredients: organic grapeseed oil, organic jojoba oil, vitamin E, and tea tree essential oil.
To use, simply place 3-5 drops of the oil onto a cotton ball or round and massage into your closed eyelids, concentrating on the eyelash area. Heyedrate's eye makeup remover oil can even double as a moisturizer all over your face after you've washed it!
2. Wash Your Face With Soap That Contains Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree essential oil has known antibacterial properties that work well to kill off microorganisms on the skin around the eyelids. Tea Tree oil is a know killer of demodex and this is why we recommend this natural soap for getting rid of demodex mites. It's imperative to keep your facial and eyelid skin clean while treating demodex, because more bacteria will only exacerbate the issue.
To use a tea tree foaming face wash, simply lather the soap between wet hands and apply in circular motions to your wet face, taking care to close the eyes tightly and rinse them well afterward. Tea tree essential oil can burn if it makes direct contact with your eyes, so make sure to rinse thoroughly.
This is a simple way to reduce the effects of MGD and it can help soothe the symptoms of demodex infestation. The heat from a warm compress will heat up the compacted oil and allow the oils to disperse more freely. The mites are less likely to feed on oil that isn't stagnant and full of bacteria.
To use a warm compress eye mask, simply microwave the mask on high for 20 seconds, test the temperature on the inside of your wrist, and then place over your closed eyelids for 15-20 minutes. Sit back and relax! You'll want to do this twice per day for maintenance. We recommend the Heyedrate Warm Compress Eye Mask for ease of use and maximum comfort during treatment.
Note that if you also suffer from ocular rosacea or rosacea in general, the heat from an eye mask can actually make your eyelids feel worse. If this is you, don't hesitate to discontinue this step or only use it a few times per week. Learn more about ocular rosacea here.
We know that tea tree essential oil helps control demodex, and an eyelid wipe formulated with tea tree can be a great addition to your routine. Not only are the wipes effective against demodex, but they also provide nice exfoliation for the skin of the eyelids. This helps them look younger and feel your best.
We recommend the MediViz Tea Tree Eyelid Wipes, and they're simple to use. Remove the pre-moistened pad from the pounch and close your eyes. Gently rub the wipe over your closed eyelids in a sweeping motion, concentrating at the base of the eyelashes. Discard the wipe afterward. There's no need to rinse!
5. Keep Your Eyelids Clean With A Hypochlorous Acid Based Eyelid Cleanser
With all of the bacteria that naturally live on our eyelids and skin, it is so important that those who suffer from demodex always keep their eyelids clean. If you suffer from blepharitis, demodex, or MGD, cleaning the lids and lashes with an effective eyelid cleanser is the best way to ensure that bacteria does not lead to an over-infestation of demodex. A hypochlorous-based cleanser is a great demodex medication because it's super gentle and requires no scrubbing. Hypochorous acid is naturally made by the body to fight microorganisms and is a great addition to your cleansing routine.
To use our Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser, make sure you have followed the other steps above and then simply spray your closed eyelids with the solution. Rub it in, and let it dry. Alternatively, you can spray the solution onto a cotton ball or round and then apply it. To make it even easier, you can even just spray it on and go. No need to rinse! This spray can be used for so many other things as well including cuts and scrapes, scars, skin blemishes and wrinkles.
When you know you've got an issue with demodex, it's imperative that you clean your towels and sheet regularly. We recommend washing sheets at least once per week and changing out your towels every few days (if not more often). This will help to ensure you're not providing more bacteria for demodex mites to feed on.
When washing your sheets and towels, wash in hot water and dry warm or hot as well. This will help kill bacteria and hopefully prevent demodex from laying eggs and reproducing any further. We recommend washing with Eco Nuts and using organic wool balls for drying instead of dryer sheets. These two products will help decrease the chemicals in your laundry!
7. Demodex Eyelash Mites & Mascara
Since demodex eyelash mites can be spread from person to person by contact, mascara can transplant them from one person to the next. With such a high number of people having demodex eyelash mites you should AVOID sharing mascara with one another and also throw away your mascara after 3 months of use.
Bonus: Visit an Eye Care Practitioner
When you're dealing with eyelash mites, your eyes can be so irritated and inflamed that you're not sure what to do. By following the simple steps above, you can quickly eradicate the eyelash bugs and get back to normal life.
However, if you notice there is no improvement in your symptoms, then go wee your local eye care practitioner.
Have you ever dealt with demodex? What did you do to treat them? Let us know in the comments below!
Demodex Eyelash Mites Pictures
Demodex Eyelash Mites Video
FAQs About Demodex Eyelash Mites/Eyelash Bugs
Do you have bugs in your eyelashes?
It is common for human skin to be crawling with microorganisms such as bacteria and mites. Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis are the varieties of mites that live on humans, particularly in and around the eyelash follicles. However, they are never usually a problem.
How do I get rid of eyelash mites?
Your best defense against eyelash mites, or Demodex, is to keep your eyelids and eyelashes clean. Ensure that you're removing your makeup every single night, wash your face with a tea tree oil soap, and consider using a tea tree oil eyelid cleanser or a hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser.
How do you know if you have demodex mites?
You cannot see Demodex mites with your own eyes. Seeing the mites requires a high-powered microscope. Your doctor may also ask about symptoms such as irritation, itchiness, redness, and similar symptoms.
Do bugs live in your eyebrows?
Technically, Demodex eyelash mites can migrate up to your eyebrows and live there, although it's much more common for Demodex to remain in and around the eyelash follicales. This is because there tends to be more oil and bacteria there for them to feed upon.
Are eyelash mites bad?
Eyelash mites, or Demodex, are a normal occurrence on the skin of humans. Usually, they do not pose a problem at all. However, there can be an overinfestation if there is a lask of hygiene, any immunocompromisation, or the like. Treatment will usually be focused on eyelid and eyelash hygiene to rid the patient of Demodex as much as possible.
What percent of people have eyelash mites?
Believe it or not, over 80% of people have Demodex living on the skin of their eyelids. Infants and children will have the lowest chance of any Demodex, and the numbers rise as age rises. Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis are common mites that live on humans, and nearly everyone has them to some degree.
How common are eyelash mites?
Eyelash mites, or Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis, are super common on the skin of humans. Over 80% of people have some degree of Demodex living in and around their eyelash follicles, and this is normal and usually not an issue.
How do you kill eyelash mites?
Tea tree essential oil is the only known filler of Demodex. However, you cannot just use tea tree on your eyelids and lashes. It must be diluted extremely well, or it has the potential to burn your eyes. In fact, it's recommended to use a prepared product meant specifically for the lids and lashes, such as the Heyedrate Tea Tree Oil Soap. Eyelid hygiene is the most important treatment when trying to get rid of an overabundance of Demodex.