It’s More Common Than You Think!
WHAT IS IT?
Demodex is a mite that lives on the face and in the hair follicles. It is associated with various skin complications of the eyes and face, such as blepharitis, acne rosacea, and other skin conditions. Demodex can appear at any age. However, research shows that Demodex infestation increases with age, being observed in 84% of the population above the age of 60 years old.
There are two existing types of Demodex mites: the longer kind, Demodex folliculorum, which live in the hair follicles and the short ones, Demodex brevis, which live in the sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin. The disease can badly damage the skin, usually when the immune system is weakened and the parasitic population has colonized.
WHERE IS IT?
These mites are invisible to the naked eye, varying in size from .1mm to .4 mm long, they live in the pores of the skin and hair follicles, typically on the scalp, forehead, cheeks, nose, eyebrows, external ear channels and most often in the roots of the eyelashes. During the day, Demodex mites remain feeding within the follicle. At night, they emerge onto the surface to mate, and eggs are laid into follicles so that the newly hatched larvae may feed on sebaceous oils. After mating on the surface of the skin, they go back into the hair follicle or sebaceous glands and lay eggs, taking bacteria with them and excreting wastes and secretions. After death, their corpses become liquid and decompose inside the skin. As the Demodex complete the entirety of their life cycle in the eyelid glands and hair follicles, they cause mechanical and chemical damage to the skin. In the early stages, there are often no noticable symptoms. Left untreated, Demodex can progress to cause dry eye, red eyes, eyelid irritation and even a skin reaction that leads to acne eruption, pustules and a reddish color on the face. Demodex can be commonly confused with Rosacea.
HOW DO YOU GET IT?
The mites are transferred between hosts through contact of hair and sebaceous glands on the nose. In the vast majority of cases, the mites go unobserved, without any adverse symptoms. However, in certain cases, the mite populations migrate and multiply in the eyelashes.
HOW DO YOU TREAT IT?
Our doctors at Vision Care Consultants can readily observe Demodex mites by carefully removing an eyelash or eyebrow hair and placing it under a microscope. Those patients diagnosed with Demodex need to remember a few simple rules. Wash hair, face, nostrils, the external ear and the neck with soap daily. Apply Cliradex to eyelids and face twice a day. Cliradex stimulates mites out from deep hair follicles and skin causing direct killing of the Demodex. If excessive itching, redness or persistent irritation occurs, stop use immediately and contact Vision Care Consultants. Wash bedding and pillow cases in hot water and dry in a heated dryer immediately before beginning a lid scrub regimen, and once a week thereafter. Keep pets away from sleeping surfaces. If a family member has complaints of similar eye irritation, make an appointment for them to be examined by one of our doctors.
With treatment, the Demodex count usually drops to zero in 4-6 weeks without recurrence in the majority of cases. Patients receiving therapy show dramatic improvements in symptoms, eye inflammation, tear film stability and vision.