Eyelash mites are caused by two types of Demodex mites. The two types are called Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. Both types of mites are microscopic, so you can’t see them with the naked eye. They’re naturally prevalent in your hair follicles, where they feed on dead skin cells.
D. folliculorum is the most likely to affect eyelashes. These types of mites feed on the dead skin cells around the lashes as well as other areas of the eye, such as your lids.
Everyone has small amounts of these mites, but they still may be spread between people and animals through close contact. The mites may also become problematic in large quantities, which can then cause further skin issues. They can also aggravate preexisting skin diseases.
Since eyelash mites aren’t visible, you won’t be able to diagnose their presence on your own. The key is to make an appointment with your doctor if you experience possible symptoms of a mite outbreak around your eyes. Read on to learn what this looks and feels like.
Symptoms of Demodex mites on the eyelashes may include:
itchiness in the eyelashes and surrounding skin
scaly, rough patches of skin
redness around the eyes
burning sensation in your eyes
worsening skin symptoms or flare-ups, such as in rosacea and eczema (dermatitis)
Advanced symptoms can cause eye inflammation (blepharitis). This can cause other symptoms such as crusty eyelashes, sticky eyes, and frequent blinking. Over time, blepharitis can also lead to eyelash growth abnormalities.
Still, symptoms of eyelash mites only tend to occur if you already have an underlying skin condition or if you have a large infestation. In mild cases, eyelash mites don’t cause any noticeable symptoms.
Demodex also appears to have strong connections with rosacea. According to the National Rosacea Society, people with rosacea have about 18 times more D. folliculorum mites compared with those who don’t have rosacea.
The mites are even considered by some experts to be a direct cause of rosacea. In any case, Demodex can lead to worsening rosacea symptoms in those who are affected.