Do Demodex mites cause Blepharitis of the Eyelids?
Many of you may ask, what is Blepharitis and do Demodex Mites cause Blepharitis? The short answer is yes! Numerous factors may cause it, but the most common reasons are infection and mite infestation. Many specialists believe it is a combination of the two. This is because the damage caused by one will often prompt the spread of the other. If the mites begin to infest a section of the eyelid, the open sores make the eyelid venerable to infection. If the eyelid becomes infected first, then the damage caused attracts larger number of mites.
The mite involved is called the Demodex mite. They are microscopic parasites that are on the skin of around 70% of the population at any given time. They eat the oil and dead skin that we produce. They only cause problems under two circumstances. If your immune system is low, they will take their opportunity and begin multiplying in great numbers. This is common for those who have a patch of skin that holds a particularly hospitable environment for them. So for example, an eyelash follicle may become infected, or you may have an open wound; which inevitably leads to the Demodex mites moving in and setting up shop. Our skin has tiny infections on it most of the time. In most cases, these tiny infections turn into spots/zits/blemishes.
Initially, you may have an eyelash follicle or oil gland that becomes a little infected, this will then cause the mites to move in. They are attracted to the open wound, the excess oil and excess skin being shed. They move in and lay their eggs, which hatch to produce hundreds of tiny mites. They then begin burrowing into the skin and causing more damage; hence the condition Blepharitis.
|Demodex Brevis and Demodex Folliculorum shown|
There are actually two Demodex species that are attributed to cases of blepharitis. These are Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. The former causes anterior blepharitis, which includes issues with the eyelashes and the latter causes posterior blepharitis which is associated with meibomian gland dysfunction and keratoconjunctivitis. (Source).
Your eyelid dermatitis treatment will depend upon your level of Blepharitis. If you have a severe case, you may have a mite infestation and an infection at the same time. The mites stop the skin from healing, whilst the infection rages and causes more damage. In this case, steroids and antibiotics are administered. The steroids stop the body from fighting back, which lowers the amount of swelling, redness and warmth (the swollen eyelid is often very warm to the touch, causing dry-eye). The antibiotics then move in to fight the infection. Meanwhile, in a serious case the doctor may prescribe a very strong sulfur treatment to be applied directly to the eyelid. It is powerful and may cause damage to the eye if it is not administered correctly. It acts as a pesticide and hits the mites hard. It has two main drawbacks; the first is that it may not be used often because it is too strong; the other is that it causes damage to the skin, so any surviving mite have a plethora food to eat ! (mites love wounded skin)
For less progressed cases, a swift consultation with a doctor, a bit of medication and a thorough cleaning regimen may be all that is needed. Many individuals go with using natural products, so that they may treat themselves more often and when needed, especially during those times when irritation becomes too much. For example, many people use natural products with tea tree oil or neem oil like Ovante Blepharitis Cleanser and Eyelid Ointment. They kill the mites and make them easier to wash out of the eye. Our formulas are gentle enough to leave the skin with less irritation, redness and Demodex free skin.