Most people have never heard of eyelash mites, even if they have them. The entire thought of those pests crawling around on your lashes or face makes some people want to cringe and even vomit. Below you will find out everything there is to know about eyelash mites from what they are to how to get rid of them.
What are eyelash mites?
Eyelash mites are classified as parasites. They live off people’s face, eyelashes, and hair follicles. Their appearance is worm-like, though they are too tiny to even spot crawling around. Feeding on skin oils and secretions, the eyelash mite has very sharp mouth parts. Their legs are very short, which is why eyelash mites squirm around similar to the way a worm does. Many associate eyelash mites with worms, though they are not closely related.
Eyelash mite reproduction
The reproduction cycle is much like you may imagine. The eyelash mites mate, and the female lays eggs in a hair follicle. Sometimes up to 24 eggs will be laid in one follicle, which is also where they will hatch and mature. Once they have hit maturity, they will leave the “nest” follicle and mate. The process will then repeat over and over. For eyelash mites maturity is usually reached a few weeks after they are hatched.
Where do you find eyelash mites?
Eyelash mites live on humans. Your gender makes no difference. Cleanliness is not a factor, though the mites prefer oilier hosts to hosts with drier skin. While these pests are specifically called “eyelash” mites, that isn’t the only spot they take up residence. Below is a list of some of the other places on your body you may find these mites.
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- Hair follicles. This is generally at the front of your head. The eyelash mites invade the follicle and feed off the host. While they are located in your hair, they should not be considered the same thing as head lice. The two are completely separate entities.
- Eyelashes. These mites hide in the lash follicles. If the infestation gets too bad, the eyelash may fall out. If your lashes are itchy or irritated, you should get checked out by your doctor.
- Eyebrows. Anywhere where follicles are, you will find these pests.
- Nose area. If there are open pores with oily secretions nearby, the eyelash mites are all over it. Oily skin is a gold mine for these eyelash mites and they will even invade places like your cheeks if there is enough appeal.
Who has eyelash mites?
Unfortunately everyone can have eyelash mites. Often when people have infestations, they don’t even know. While it is possible for anyone to have these annoying pests, there are some more likely candidates than others. Below you will find who has a higher risk for eyelash mites.
- The elderly. While it is unclear why the elderly are more prone to having eyelash mites, they are. By the time you reach 60 years old, 80 percent of your age group will have these pests.
- People with skin conditions like rosacea and eczema. When the skin is irritated, it gives the eyelash mites more potential for food. Because they feed on dead skin, this is a gold mine for them.
- People who sleep wearing eye make-up. The theory behind this is when you don’t take off your make-up, your skin gets oily. Because this is around your eyelids and lashes, the eyelash mites have ample food and take up residence.
- People with oily skin. Eyelash mites love oily skin, especially around the eye and nose area.
How to avoid eyelash mite infestation
Since everyone likely has a few eyelash mites, it is important to keep things under control. You don’t want to wake up one day with your eyelashes falling out or irritation near your eyelids. Below you will find some precautionary tips.
- Change out your make-up frequently. This is more specific for eye make up, but it is good to also change your foundation or powder as well. It is recommended that you change mascara and eyeliners roughly every three months. Sometimes more frequently as they get used up, but the general rule of thumb is 90 days. Eye shadows can go a bit longer, especially if you change the applicators out.
- Wash your make-up off every night. Sleeping in your eye make-up or even just foundation will make you even more prone to infestation. It allows your pores to get clogged and your skin to become more oily. Use a facial wash that also works as a make-up remover so you don’t have to do two steps or more before bed.
- Check your pets. If you have pets that sleep in bed with you, have the vets check them for eyelash mites at their yearly visit. You may suspect something before that and if you do, it doesn’t hurt to have them looked at.
- Regularly wash your bedding. From pillows to mattress covers, everything should be washed on a regular basis. Weekly is recommended, but many people do it twice a week. Choose the routine that fits you best, but try to do it at least once a week.
Symptoms of eyelash mites
You may begin experiencing some odd things in your facial area. While it is unlikely you will actually see eyelash mites with your naked eye, these are some telltale signs that you may have an infestation.
- Excessive itching in your lash or eyebrow area. This is not to be mistaken for dry skin, you will know the difference.
- Lashes falling out. Obviously throughout your lifetime you will lose a lash here and there but if they begin to fall out in clumps or frequently, it is a sign there is a problem.
- Irritation around your eyelids. If there are too many eyelash mites, you will be likely be red and swollen. Areas of inflammation include the eyelids, nose, and eyebrow area.
How to get rid of eyelash mites
Usually having eyelash mites isn’t any cause for alarm. Many people have them throughout their entire lives without any issues. The problem arises when they reproduce and there are more of them than there is space for in each hair follicle. While you may need to see a doctor for help, there are some at home treatments you can try before calling a professional.
- Use a baby brand soap to wash your face. You must use it twice daily. It is recommended that you use the “no tear” type, but any baby soap will do the job.
- Buy tea tree facial washes and shampoos. Purchasing these may be a little complicated, especially if you are in an area where stores are not abundant. Check online and order them if you can find them locally.
- Apply tea tree oil directly to your eyelashes. You will need to order this online if you can’t find this at a local store. It is one of the only things that works on the eyelash mites, so it will be worth the effort you put into getting it.
- Stop wearing make-up for at least two weeks. The longer you wait to wear eye make-up, the better. Your face needs time to heal and get the eyelash mite population down.
Prevention of eyelash mites
While you cannot actually prevent eyelash mites from living on your body, you can prevent an infestation. After you have followed the steps above and removed the excessive pests, you can begin the prevention process. If you don’t take the advice and do what it recommended, the eyelash mites could come back.
- Have your spouse or significant other checked for eyelash mites. Because they are able to be transferred from person to person, it is essential that you have everyone in your home checked. Usually children will not get them, but your husband or wife can.
- Check your dogs as well. While it may sound odd, dogs can get eyelash mites too. It is best to take them to a vet for a check up. You wouldn’t want to have to go through the process of removal again because you neglected to check your pet.
- Buy new make-up. It is suggested that you purchase new eye make-up, but some people throw away all of their stuff and start new. If you choose not to start over, you will need to replace your eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara.
- Buy new bedding. This includes everything from mattress covers to pillows. If you have been battling an issue with eyelash mites, you can never be too careful. Washing your stuff in hot water may get rid of the problem, but it isn’t always completely effective. Money can play a role in this but if you have the available resources, you should definitely replace everything you can.
Eyelash mites may sound like a pretty serious issue, especially if you have never heard of them before. They are pretty ugly little things, but are virtually harmless unless you develop an infestation. Remember to keep up with your personal hygiene and regularly wash your face and make-up off. Being proactive is better than reactive in this case.