Have you been experiencing itchy and scaly skin around your eyes? Are your eyelids red and sandpaper like? It is possible you are experiencing an overpopulation of demodex. Demodex are microscopic mites that live inside the oil glands and hair follicles of your eyelashes. Though it sounds gross, in truth, most people host demodex and never know it. For the most part, these tiny creatures are completely harmless, and can inhabit your lashes for years without producing any symptoms. However, if the population of demodex grows too large, the mites can begin to create uncomfortable symptoms for their host.
Two species of demodex are found on human beings.
- Demodex folliculorum live in hair follicles, and feed on skin cells. They are primarily found around the eyelashes and eyelids.
- Demodex brevis live in the oil glands of human hair follicles and feed on the sebum created by the oil gland cells.
If you believe you may be suffering from a demodex infestation, there are a variety of treatment options available to conquer your mite problem.
Many demodex infestations cannot be easily treated at home with basic drugstore products. Contrary to prior some past research, baby shampoo is no longer a recommended treatment for Demodex mites because the preservatives can cause irritation. Home remedies often don’t work as well as they could because the effects are too superficial.
Although tea tree oil has long been celebrated for its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, the skin of your eyelids can react poorly to this type of treatment.
Over the Counter Treatments
If you want a more aggressive treatment plan, there are many over the counter ointments and gels that can help curb demodex infestations.
Look for products that have benzyl benzoate, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, and sulfur as active ingredients. Benzyl benzoate is a medication and insect repellent that often comes in the form of an ointment. The compound is absorbed by the lice or mites and affects their nervous system, killing them.
Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant most commonly found in products meant to combat acne. Some research has been published showing that salicylic acid can be used to treat Demodex folliculorum .
Selenium sulfide has antifungal properties and is most commonly used to combat dandruff and other fungal infections of the scalp. It can also be used to treat scabies and demodex.
Sulfur has similar antifungal and antibacterial properties. Sulfur can be used to treat scabies and demodex, and is a good alternative for those sensitive to tea tree oil. Look for solutions that have a concentration of between 8 to 10% sulfur. Sulfur can be incredibly drying, so be sure to use it in conjunction with a moisturizer, oil, or conditioner to replenish your skin and hair with the moisture it needs.
If over the counter treatments are not able to curb your demodex infestation, you may need to turn to a medical professional. Those suffering from particularly large populations of demodex mites may need medical intervention to treat their problem.
Those suffering from severe demodex may notice cylindrical dandruff in the affected area. Unlike traditional dandruff which has a dry, flaky appearance, cylindrical dandruff is soft and waxy, closely resembling dripping candle wax.
Demodex infestations also affect the skin around the eyelashes. In extreme cases, the skin at the root of the eyelash follicle becomes distended and rises up like a pyramid around the eyelash. The skin around the hair follicle may also appear greasy and oily.
If you believe your symptoms may be caused by an infestation of demodex, schedule a doctor’s appointment for diagnosis. As demodex are invisible to the human eye, a medical professional will have to run a skin biopsy on a sample of oils and follicular tissue from the affected area to determine if the mites are present.
There are a variety of prescription ointments that can be used to treat demodex topically. Your doctor can prescribe crotamiton, ivermectin, metronidazole, and permethrin to treat your demodex infestations. These prescription treatments should be applied to your eyelashes to trap demodex folliculorum and prevent them from laying eggs in other hair follicles.
Between over the counter remedies and prescription treatments, a demodex infestation should be easy to cure. Though they can be irritating, Demodex is completely harmless for the most part, and should not cause any long-term damage to your eyes. In fact, unless the population of Demodex grows to an unmanageable size, it is unlikely that you will ever notice these microscopic mites living on your eyelashes.Consider using Cliradex products if you have concerns about Demodex and are interested in treatment. If you are suffering from symptoms linked to demodex, consult your doctor about Cliradex to discover the best treatment options for you.