Have you ever felt an itch or irritation around your eyelashes and wondered what could be causing it? You might be surprised to learn that microscopic mites could be behind your discomfort. In this comprehensive guide, we will demystify the world of eyelash mites, uncovering their causes, symptoms, and treatment options. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle these tiny creatures and keep your eyes healthy and irritation-free.

Key Takeaways

  • Eyelash mites are Harmless but can lead to medical issues if an overabundance is present.
  • Common symptoms include itchiness, redness and dry eyes. Severe infestations may require medical intervention.
  • Preventative measures such as daily eye care routines and avoiding the sharing of makeup/personal items can help promote healthy eyelashes and prevent mite infestations.

Understanding Eyelash Mites

Eyelash mites, also known as Demodex mites, are microscopic arthropods that inhabit our faces, particularly on or near hair follicles like our eyelashes. Though the idea of tiny creatures living on your skin may seem alarming, these mites are generally harmless. In fact, having a small number of eyelash mites is quite common, and their population tends to increase with age.

However, if their population grows out of control, it can lead to various eye and skin problems that require proper medical intervention.

Demodex Mites: The Culprits Behind Eyelash Mite Infestations

Demodex mites are the primary cause of eyelash mite infestations. They inhabit the eyelash follicles and feed on dead skin cells and oil sebum glands produce. There are two main types of Demodex mites: Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. Demodex folliculorum primarily resides in hair follicles, while Demodex brevis prefers oil or sebaceous glands. These microscopic mites may not cause issues in small numbers, but a severe infestation can result in unpleasant symptoms such as itching, redness, and inflammation of the eyelids.

Demodex infestation is a common issue that can affect various areas of the body, including the:

  • Face (cheeks, nose, chin, forehead, temples, eyelashes, and brows)
  • Scalp
  • Neck
  • Ears
  • Penis
  • Buttocks

Demodex blepharitis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the eyelids caused by Demodex folliculorum, can lead to further issues related to the eyelashes. Early recognition and treatment of an infestation can help prevent possible complications.

Eyelash Mites and Their Connection to Skin Conditions

Eyelash mites have been found in higher numbers in individuals with certain skin conditions, such as rosacea and blepharitis. Rosacea is a skin condition that has been associated with an increased presence of eyelash mites. Studies have suggested that those with rosacea have approximately 18 times more mites than those without. Though the relationship between Demodex mites and rosacea is not fully understood, it is believed that an overabundance of Demodex mites may lead to an immune response in those with rosacea or that the inflammation may be caused by certain bacteria associated with the mites.

Blepharitis, on the other hand, is an inflammation of the eyelids caused by an infestation of eyelash mites. These mites can carry bacteria which can then be released into the skin, resulting in:

  • irritation and inflammation of the eyelids
  • crusty lashes
  • itchiness in the surrounding skin
  • fluctuating blurry vision
  • red, swollen, watery eyes

Comprehending the relationship between eyelash mites and skin disorders aids in identifying and addressing these conditions’ root causes.

Identifying Eyelash Mite Symptoms

If you suspect an eyelash mite infestation, identifying the symptoms is a key step. Some of the common symptoms associated with eyelash mite infestations include:

  • itchiness
  • redness
  • dry eyes
  • blurry vision
  • abnormal eyelash growth

Other indicators that may suggest the presence of more eyelash mites include sticky or crusty eyelashes, red and swollen eyelids, itchiness, stinging sensation, and irritation inside the eye.

Recognizing Mild vs. Severe Infestations

In mild eyelash mite infestations, there may not be any apparent symptoms. On the other hand, severe infestations may be accompanied by symptoms such as itching, redness, and irritation of the eyelids. It is uncommon for mild infestations to become severe, as most adults are infested with Demodex mites without displaying clinical symptoms, and the majority of Demodex patients present with mild to moderate symptoms. However, if left unchecked, a mild infestation can result in bacterial infections, inflammation, crusty and sticky eyelashes, frequent blinking, blurry vision, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Understanding the distinction between mild and severe infestations helps guide the treatment process. Mild cases are often harmless and manageable with home remedies, while severe cases may require medical intervention. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

When to Seek Medical Help

Seeking medical help is necessary if you display any potential symptoms of an eyelash mite infestation or if the infestation leads to significant discomfort. A physician can analyze a pulled eyelash under a microscope to determine the presence of eyelash mites. Failure to treat severe eyelash mite infestations can result in:

  • Vision disturbances
  • Dry eye
  • Exacerbation of pre-existing conditions like rosacea and acne
  • Blepharitis
  • Trichiasis
  • Keratitis

Thus, it is prudent to seek medical assistance if any potential symptoms are experienced or if the infestation is causing noticeable distress.

Causes and Risk Factors

Eyelash mite infestations can be attributed to a variety of factors, including personal hygiene, close contact with an infected individual, and exposure to dusty environments. Those who are older or have pre-existing conditions may have an increased likelihood of developing eyelash mites. Close or direct contact with another person who has mites, or contacts with dust-containing eggs, may result in the acquisition of eyelash mites.

Awareness of these causes and risk factors enables the implementation of suitable preventative measures.

The Role of Personal Hygiene

Good personal hygiene goes a long way in preventing eyelash mite infestations. Adhering to good hygiene practices can help reduce the risk of infestations by eliminating excess oil, dead skin cells, and debris that can create an ideal habitat for mites to flourish. Inadequate hygiene habits, such as not cleaning the eyelashes and the adjacent area regularly, may lead to too many eyelash mites and eyelash mite infestations.

Excessive washing of the eyes is not beneficial in controlling mites and may even worsen the conditions. It is essential to maintain good eye hygiene by washing the eye area twice daily with lukewarm water and a mild cleanser.

Age and Other Contributing Factors

Age plays a significant role in the prevalence of eyelash mites, as older adults tend to have a higher incidence of adult mites. The efficiency of the immune system decreases with age, which may lead to an increased rate of eyelash mite infestation. A weakened immune system can have difficulty controlling the mite population, resulting in a higher infestation rate.

Besides age, medical conditions such as:

  • blepharitis
  • conjunctivitis
  • keratitis
  • inflammatory acne
  • dermatitis
  • alopecia
  • rosacea
  • other skin disorders

Increase the risk of eyelash mite infestations. Awareness of these factors can help you take the necessary precautions to prevent infestations.

Effective Treatment Methods

The severity of the eyelash mite infestation determines the treatment approach, which could be home remedies for mild cases or medical treatments for severe cases. It’s essential to find the appropriate treatment method that suits your specific situation and addresses the root cause of the infestation.

This section covers both home remedies and medical treatments to aid your decision-making about the most suitable course of action for your situation.

Home Remedies for Mild Cases

For mild cases of eyelash mite infestations, home remedies such as tea tree oil, warm compresses, and eyelid cleansers can be effective in managing symptoms and reducing mite populations. Tea tree oil, in particular, has been shown to have antimicrobial properties that can help eliminate mites and alleviate associated symptoms. When using tea tree oil, it’s important to dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil to prevent a stinging sensation.

Warm compresses can also provide relief by loosening crust and debris around the eyelashes, while eyelid cleansers can help remove excess oil and dead skin cells that mites feed on.

Medical Treatments for Severe Cases

In severe cases of eyelash mite infestations, medical treatments may be necessary to effectively address the issue. Prescription medications, in-office procedures, and specialized cleansers may be utilized to treat severe infestations. Metronidazole, ivermectin, and crotamiton are the most frequently prescribed oral medications for severe eyelash mite infestations. The duration of treatment can vary; however, it is usually a long-term approach and may last for several months. Treatment may need to be repeated monthly or every 90 days until two negative skin scrapings are achieved.

Consulting a healthcare professional helps determine the most suitable treatment for your specific situation.

Prevention Strategies

Preventing eyelash mite infestations is vital for maintaining skin and eye health. By adopting certain prevention strategies, you can keep mite populations under control and reduce the risk of developing infestations in the future.

This section covers daily eye care routines and correct handling of eye makeup and personal items, including the use of baby shampoo, which can help promote healthy eyelashes and curb mite population growth.

Daily Eye Care Routine

Establishing a daily eye care routine is key to preventing eyelash mite infestations. This includes cleansing the eyelids and removing makeup before bed. Cleaning your eyes twice a day with water and using eyelid wipes or cleansers containing tea tree oil can help keep mites at bay.

Washing your face with tea tree oil cleansers or wipes and using diluted tea tree oil to clean eyelashes can also be beneficial. Maintaining good eye hygiene and adhering to a consistent daily routine can help prevent the buildup of sebum and dead skin cells, which are food sources for Demodex mites.

Makeup and Personal Items

Besides maintaining a daily eye care routine, being mindful of the makeup and personal items you use is also important. Sharing makeup and personal items, such as mascara, eye shadow brushes, or other cosmetics that come into contact with the eyelashes or eyelids, can facilitate the spread of eyelash mites. To prevent the transmission of mites, avoid sharing these items and ensure you clean makeup tools regularly using water and a mild soap or detergent.

Additionally, washing bedding in hot water can help eliminate any mites or eggs that may be present, further reducing the risk of infestations.


In conclusion, understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments for eyelash mite infestations is essential for maintaining healthy eyes and skin. By recognizing the signs of infestation, practicing good personal hygiene, and adopting preventive measures, you can effectively manage and prevent eyelash mite infestations. Remember, early detection and intervention are key to avoiding more severe complications. Stay vigilant, and keep those tiny creatures at bay for a happier, healthier you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if you have lash mites?

If you experience any itchiness, redness, dry eye, crusty or sticky lashes, blurry vision, and scaly or rough patches of skin around your eyes, it is likely that you have an eyelash mite outbreak and should seek medical treatment for it.

How do I get rid of eyelash mites?

To get rid of eyelash mites, apply warm compresses, scrub your eyelids to remove crust, and use a mixture of water and baby shampoo to clean your eyes and face two to three times daily.

Can optometrists see eyelash mites?

An ophthalmologist or optometrist can diagnose Demodicosis, an infestation of face mites, by using a slit-lamp to examine eyelash structures. They may also obtain an eyelash for examination under the microscope, allowing them to see eyelash mites.

How do I know if I have Demodex mites?

In order to determine if you have Demodex mites, a doctor will scrape a small sample of your skin and view it under a microscope. Symptoms such as burning, itching, whiteheads, redness, rough skin, scales, sensitive skin, and a white sheen on your skin or eyelashes may indicate their presence. However, only a skin biopsy can definitively diagnose Demodex mites.

What are eyelash mites?

Eyelash mites are microscopic arthropods that inhabit our facial and eyelash hair follicles, providing an often unseen and unexpected companion.

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Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What Are Eyelash Mites? – Healthline
  2. Eyelash Mites (Demodex): Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention – MedicineNet
  3. What to know about eyelash mites – Medical News Today
  4. Eyelash Mites: What They Are and How to Get Rid of Them –
  5. Eyelash Mites: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention – WebMD
  6. Eyelash Mites: What Are They And How Do You Get Rid Of Them? – Allure
  7. Eyelash Mites: Everything You Need to Know – GoodRx
  8. Eyelash mites: Everything you need to know – Medical News Today


Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.

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