Demodex Mites and Your Eyelashes
Demodex is a mite that occurs naturally on many people's faces and resides in hair follicles, and in particular the follicles of eyelashes. Most of the time, demodex causes no problems whatsoever. However, sometimes an infestation can become particularly parasitic, resulting in unhealthy eyelid margins which therefore leads to problems. Those problems as a group are called Blepharitis. Blepharitis can be caused by caused by several things including allergies, bacterial overgrowth, Rosacea and also by Demodex.
Often, diagnosis of mite infestation by your eye doctor can be difficult, as the symptoms can mimic other causes of Blepharitis, which is one of the most prevalent diseases we see.
The most common sign of a demodex infestation is a cylindrical cuff or "sleeve" at the base of the eyelash. Symptoms include redness, itching, burning, dry eyes and general discomfort in the eyelid.
The probability of demodex infestation increase gradually with age, with nearly 100% of people having demodex in their eyelashes after age 70. If there are no symptoms present, nothing needs to be done about demodex, as it does occur naturally as stated above. If any of the before mentioned symptoms are present, however, eyelid hygiene with tea tree oil is usually the first line treatment. Tea tree oil is known to kill the mites and there are now several brands of “eye lid scrubs” that come with tea tree oil in them.
Another effective treatment method that we do at Shore Eye Associates is Blephex with tea tree oil foam.
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see if the treatment is right for you.