Eyelash Mites

Everything You Didn’t Want to Know about Eyelash Mites

As soon as you hear it, “eyelash mites”, you already know you don’t want to hear any more about it.  Nothing called something so intimate could possibly be good news, right?  It’s really not as bad as one would think; after all, you’ve gone your entire life not knowing about them, so after reading this, you can pretend you still don’t know.

Yes, there really is such a thing as eyelash mites.  And yes, it is just as it sounds:  they are mites that live at the base of your eyelashes.  Their actual name is demodicid; miniscule creatures measuring only about .04 millimeters.  Their body appearance is similar to that of a worm, complete with scales, stumpy legs, microscopic claws and piercing mouthparts.  The purpose of these miniature parasites is actually a good one; to clean areas on the human body that might otherwise clog and fail to function.  Eyelash mites bury their heads into the hair follicles of our eyelids and feed upon sebaceous fluids and debris from dead skin cells that accumulate there.  By keeping the area clean, eyelashes are able to develop and grow naturally.  These mites are also present in the pores of the nose, forehead, chin and cheeks providing the same free service.

The life cycle of eyelash mites lasts about 15 days.  Adults leave their host follicle and stop feeding to mate and lay eggs.  They are capable of depositing up to 25 eggs in just one follicle.  They hatch and remain at the follicle pore at which they were laid to begin feeding.  As they feed, their bodies expand.  Room around the follicle becomes extremely tight as the mites grow.  When a situation arises where too many mites surround the same follicle, it could cause damage to the follicle itself so that the eyelash falls out prematurely.  One situation is the only one that would serve to act as a drawback to the presence of eyelash mites, and that is that overcrowding at a follicle could possibly cause inflammation and infection of the pore.

While it is believed that every person has eyelash mites, there are certain people who are more prone to large numbers of the creatures.  People who continually wear mascara and eyeliner have a higher tendency to be host to more mites than others do, especially when the makeup is not removed thoroughly at the end of the day.

Although it is not a pleasant thought, perhaps, that microscopic creatures are, at this very moment, chomping away at the hair follicles of your eyelids, it is true that eyelash mites perform a very important and needed service.  Maybe we should consider it a blessing that their work goes forward unfelt, considering the alternative.