You’ve probably heard of eyelash mites- microscopic bugs that live in the skin on your face.
Did you know, though, that there are actually two different species of mites that live on humans? Though similar, Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis have slightly different biologies and behaviors. This means the way they cause problems, and the way they are treated, are also a bit different.
Here, we are going to take an in-depth look at one particular species of mite- D. folliculorum.
The Biology of Demodex Folliculorum
Like other species of Demodex mites, D. folliculorum is too small to be seen by the naked eye and is only visible under a microscope.
D. folliculorum is the larger of the two species that inhabit humans, measuring a whopping 0.4mm (1/64th inch) in length. This species is mostly found in facial skin, where it is the most prevalent of the two types of mites.1
In fact, it is the most common ectoparasite (parasite living on the external surface of the body) in humans.2 Their preferred hideout is in hair follicles, particularly eyelash follicles; hence their name. Several mites usually live together in one follicle, where they eat skin cells and oil.
Are These Mites Causing My Skin/eye Problems?
Demodex folliculorum mites are extremely common in people, but usually, don’t cause any symptoms. However, if they become overpopulated they can trigger inflammation, which can lead to a few skins and eye issues.
Indications for D. folliculorum include folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles), or madarosis, where eyelashes are loose or misaligned. They may also contribute to disorders like blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), dermatitis, and dry eye disease.3,4
If you are experiencing symptoms such as red, itching, sore, or stinging eyes, eyelids, or facial skin, or light sensitivity or blurry vision, you might want to have your eye doctor check for Demodex mites.5
What Do I Do to Treat Demodex Folliculorum Mites?
There are a few quick remedies you can use to manage the symptoms caused by D. folliculorum.
- Lubricating eye drops like artificial tears can relieve symptoms of dry eye.
- Topical corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone, can help reduce inflammation on your skin and eyelids.6
Actually, getting rid of a Demodex infestation is much trickier. Since the mites live inside hair follicles and have a life cycle that lasts several weeks, therapies must continue long enough to completely eliminate all mites and their eggs after they hatch.
In severe cases of demodicosis, or mite infestation, your doctor may prescribe an oral antiparasitic medication such as ivermectin. Drugs like these, however, can come with some unpleasant side effects.2
For a safer, natural approach to dealing with mites, Cliradex towelettes are a good option. These wipes contain 4-terpineol, a compound in tea tree oil that has been shown to kill Demodex mites. And the great thing is that Cliradex towelettes are safe enough to use for the length of time needed to completely eliminate a Demodex infestation, without causing irritation.
How can I prevent a Demodex folliculorum infestation?
Hygiene is key here! Keeping your face and eyes clean will help prevent mites from becoming established in the first place, and will clear irritants and other factors that can cause an infestation to explode out of control.
Cliradex Light foaming cleanser is a good choice for daily ocular hygiene. Its plant-based ingredients, including 4-terpineol, are gentle enough to use long-term so that you no longer have to worry about Demodex infestations.
1. Rather PA, Hassan I. Human demodex mite: the versatile mite of dermatological importance. Indian journal of dermatology. 2014;59(1):60-66.
2. Salem DA, El-Shazly A, Nabih N, El-Bayoumy Y, Saleh S. Evaluation of the efficacy of oral ivermectin in comparison with ivermectin-metronidazole combined therapy in the treatment of ocular and skin lesions of Demodex folliculorum. International journal of infectious diseases : IJID : official publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. 2013;17(5):e343-347.
3. Liu J, Sheha H, Tseng SC. Pathogenic role of Demodex mites in blepharitis. Current opinion in allergy and clinical immunology. 2010;10(5):505-510.
4. Cheng AM, Sheha H, Tseng SC. Recent advances on ocular Demodex infestation. Current opinion in ophthalmology. 2015;26(4):295-300.
5. Kosik-Bogacka DI, Lanocha N, Lanocha A, et al. Role of Demodex folliculorum in the pathogenesis of blepharitis. Acta ophthalmologica. 2012;90(7):e579.6. Benitez-Del-Castillo JM. How to promote and preserve eyelid health. Clinical ophthalmology (Auckland, NZ). 2012;6:1689-1698.