Eyelash mites are also known by the medical terms Demodex folliculorum and demodicid. They are microscopic mites that reside in hair follicles such as eyebrows and eyelashes. These mites are very common and are prevalent in people with dry skin. Make-up, such as eyeshadow and mascara, may worsen a mite infection if not removed properly. One hair follicle may contain as many as 25 eyelash mites. Each mite can live up to two and a half weeks.
Physical Characteristics of Eyelash Mites
Demodex folliculorum is invisible to the naked eye. This mite has eight legs and ranges in sizes from 0.3 to 0.4mm long. It is impossible to feel the presence of these mites and most people do not know they exist.
The mites are classified into two sexes, male and female. It is common for female mites to stay on one lash or hair follicle their entire lives. Male are more mobile and move from place to place seeking a mate. Female mites are capable of laying up to 25 eggs each. These mites mature in larvae and reach adulthood in approximately two weeks. Demodex folliculorum feed on skin cells and are generally harmless.
Though it is difficult to prevent eyelash mites, as they are so common. There are a few steps you can take to lessen the likelihood that you will be negatively affected by Demodex folliculorum. All traces of cosmetics should be removed at the end of the day with make-up remover or soap. Use a face scrub as needed to eliminate dead skin and keep your face well moisturised.
An eyelash mite infection can be diagnosed by a trained medical specialist. Since these mites are tiny and do not come out when there is light, they can only be observed under a microscope with minimal lighting. A doctor may take skin and lash samples to diagnose cases of eye lash mites. Often laboratory tests are necessary to rule out other medical conditions such as acne and lice.
Symptoms of an infestation include itchy skin, hair and eyelash loss or brittleness, rosacea and eye irritation.
Mild cases of eyelash mites can be treated at home. The patient should wash her eyelid, eyelashes and eyebrows once in the morning and again before bed with a mild, tear-free shampoo and water. A gentle scrub can also be used to remove dead skin. Soaps, scrubs and ointments with tea-tree or macadamia-nut oils have also been effective in mite treatments. However, you should consult your doctor or optometrist before starting any home treatments.
A doctor may be able to prescribe speciality ointments to get rid of eyelash mites and help alleviate symptoms associated with them. Some prescription antibiotic treatments have yielded good results in patients with eyelash mite infestation. It may take more than one visit for patients to get the desired results.