Tails of the Eyelid Mite

Eyelid mites?  What are they?  Well, they are the common dust mite, medically known as Demodex.  The mites seem to prefer colonising the upper eyelash follicles and although we all have Demodex lurking on our skin when they infiltrate the eyelashes, they can be problematic.

Demodex mites feed on skin and oil within the eyelid oil-producing glands.  As the mites feed, they also excrete and die, lay eggs which all together causes inflammation, dryness, grittiness and also scaly skin around the lids.

I regularly see Demodex in practice, almost every day!  When I talk to colleagues, they’re surprised I see so many.  The issue is Demodex is a master of disguise.  The mites can hide underneath crusting at the base of eyelash follicles and even furrow into the follicles and oil-producing meibomian glands.

Furthermore, Demodex is found 4 times more frequently in patients with Rosacea.  So, if I see patients with Rosacea I’m suspicious and if I see crusting at the lid margins, I always perform a Blephex treatment to remove the crusting.  Removing the crusts often exposes this devious culprit.  I have a digital camera on my microscope, so I’ll often photograph a before and after to show the tail of the Demodex.  Removing the crusts also helps remove some of the food source of the mite.  However, I’ll also prescribe Demodex specific lid wipes such as Oust (there are a number of them out there) and also recommend IPL (Intense Pulsed Light therapy) to treat dry eye and ocular rosacea.

Mites Hidden Under EyeLash Crusting

Demodex masquerade

Tails of Eye Lash Mites

Demodex Tails

2 Weeks of Lid Hygiene

Significant reduction in Demodex and overall lid crusting

Pre Blephex

Immediately After Blephex Treatment

Complete removal of scurf around lids and clear view of lashe follicles

Post Blephex

So, what’s the moral of this tale (or should I say tail)?

If you have:

  • crusting at the base of the lashes,
  • scaly skin around lid margins,
  • facial rosacea,
  • redness around the eyelid margin,

think about Demodex and get assessed!

author avatar
Dr. Trusit Dave, PhD, BSc(Hons), MCOptom, FAAO.
I'm an Optometrist, Researcher and Inventor. I'm the co-author on a best-selling specialist text book on advanced contact lenses. I've lectured all over the world and published many peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed clinical and research articles. I've developed patient communication technology used by leading eye surgeons and optometrists. I work at EYETECH Optometrists and OPTIMED.