Causes Of Demodex Blepharitis: Symptoms And Natural Treatment

Blepharitis is a medical term used for inflammation of eyelids. Usually inflammation occurs in area around the eyelashes. The most common cause of bleharitis is staphylococcal infection, however demodex mite infestation can also be one the causes which is often overlooked as many physicians do not suspect it to be a potential reason for blepharitis. This condition is more common in people above the age of 60.

Two species of demodex mites can cause blepharitis; Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. The former predominantly affects the eyelashes leading to cylindrical dandruff around the eyelashes while the later affects the meibomian glands resulting in its dysfunction and conjunctivitis.

Burning, itching, grainy sensation in eyes, crust formation and inflammation of margin of eyelids are important symptoms of demodex eye disease. Demodex blepharitis is a chronic condition and it is difficult to treat. Maintaining good hygiene and lid scrub with tea tree oil are found to be effective in eradicating the mites.

Symptoms Of Demodex Blepharitis

The symptoms produced in demodex blepharitis are probably similar to those that occur in other forms of blepharitis and dry eye. Itching, red border of eyelids, burning sensation, swelling, dandruff around the eyelashes, blurred vision, red eyes etc.

Itching in early morning and at night is common in patient suffering from demodex blepharitis.

It is because the mites are averse to light. They come out of the hair follicle only in darkness to mate and lay their eggs on the eyelashes. As soon as the mites are exposed to light they retreat in the hair follicle. Patient has cylindrical dandruff on the eyelashes which is characteristic feature of demodex blepharitis. If it is left untreated, patient may have loss of eyelashes.

Sine long time demodex blepharitis infestation has been suspected to have an association with rosacea. It is an inflammatory disease affecting the mid portion of face. Therefore it has to be kept in mind of demodex mites if a person suffers from rosacea and has blepharitis infection on the eyelids. Applying topical steroid cream on face for a long time can intensify the colonies of mites on the skin. Eventually the mites may then affect the eyelids and the hair follicles of eyelashes.

How To Treat Demodex Blepharitis Naturally?

Demodex mites causing blepharitis are difficult to detect because the parasites are extremely tiny. Secondly they lie deep inside the follicle in day light. They only come out at night or in darkness. Presence of cylindrical dandruff on border of eyelids is often a reliable way to detect them. However, sometimes cylindrical dandruff may be absent even though the patient may have mites. Therefore for diagnostic criteria observing the eyelashes under microscope is the best method to reveal this parasite.

Demodex mites live for 20 days, they have very short life, but as they multiply fast they cannot be completely eradicated unless all the mites are removed.

The primary aim of treatment of demodex blepharitis is to reduce the population of demodex mites from skin as well as from the eyelashes. The role of good hygienic practice plays an important role in preventing multiplication of the parasites. Once multiplication is controlled, eradicating demodex mites becomes easier. Here are few important natural tips that may help to eventually expel the mites from body and eyelids.

  • Maintain and follow good hygiene practice. Wash your body and not only the area around eye with shampoo or soap daily.
  • Demodex are sensitive to heat. Wash your bed sheets, pillow cover and towel in warm water. Put them in hot dryer so that all the mites present on them get killed. Environmental cleaning is as important as cleaning the body.
  • Avoid sleeping with pets although there is no clear proof if the mites can migrate from pets to humans.
  • Tea tree oil is found to be an effective remedy for killing demodex mites. However, patient should take professional medical help to apply tea tree oil as an eyelid scrub; it is because tea tree oil is an irritant if it goes in the eyes. Tea tree oil has to be used in diluted form very carefully. It can be mixed with walnut oil to bring its strength down to 50%.
  • Besides applying tea tree oil over the lashes, it has to be applied also on skin around the eyelashes as well as the eyebrows, taking all precautions that tea tree oil does not seep inside the eyes. The oil has to be applied at least two to three times in a week.