Lash Mites: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

As creepy as this might sound, lash mites are tiny bugs that live on your eyelashes and lay eggs there and spend their whole lives on your eyelids without you even realizing it sometimes. Similar to lice, these mites known as Demodex reside on your eyelashes, feed off dead skin cells, and spread from one person to another. They live on hair follicles and will only become a problem when they multiply greatly in number.

Since they are microscopic, you cannot see them with the naked eye and will only be diagnosed when they become too large in number and start creating skin issues. Lash mites are present in almost everyone’s eyes and are not something to be alarmed about. An ophthalmologist can help treat you for lash mites if they suspect you have them.

Lash mites treatment

What Are Lash Mites?

Lash mites, also known as demodex, are tiny cigar-shaped bugs with four legs that can crawl on tube-like structures such as hair follicles. They are similar to hair lice but much smaller. In fact, they are so tiny that they are not visible to the naked eye and can only be viewed under a microscope. While it sounds really disturbing to know that there might be bugs crawling around on your eyelashes, they are not dangerous. They are barely noticeable unless an infestation occurs and the skin on your eyelids begins to show signs and symptoms. Lash mites feed on dead skin and some oil that is present along the lash line. So while they are doing you a favor by cleaning your lids, too many mites can be problematic.

What Causes Them?

Lash mites are actually part of the natural biome and are doing us a service by getting rid of dead skin cells, and oil secretions around are eyelids and lash lines. But when there is an infestation, it can become problematic for people.

Lash mites are caused by:

Coming Into Close Contact With Someone Who Has Lash Mites

Lash mites can spread from one person to another just as head lice do. Coming into close contact with someone with lash mites can cause lash mites to develop on your eyelashes.

An Older Person With Compromised Immunity

Compromised immunity, especially in older people, can cause lash mites to multiply in number. Caregivers of older people can catch lash mites from them as well.

A Person On Strong Medication Resulting In Weakened Immunity

Anyone on strong medication for a certain illness can have a mite infestation on their lashes due to compromised immunity.

Lack Of Proper Facial Hygiene

Lack of proper hygiene can result in dust and dirt particles settling on to the eyelashes creating a breeding ground for lash mites

Sharing Eye Makeup With Others

Someone who might have lash mites can give them to another person via sharing makeup with that person, such as mascara, eyeliner and eyebrow brushes.

Not Removing Eyemakeup Properly

Not removing eye makeup properly can clog pores on the skin around the eyelids and the eyelashes. This results in more eyelash mites multiplying

Not Cleaning Your Eyelash Extensions

Eyelash extensions can be breeding grounds for lash mites.

Do Eyelash Extensions Cause Lash Mites?

Eyelash extensions are additional false hairs attached to the lash line to make your lashes look thicker and fuller. These make your eyes look bigger and more dramatic. While getting eyelash extensions themselves do not cause lash mites to develop, but lack of proper hygiene and improper cleaning of the eyelash extensions can cause lash mites to develop.

How To Clean Lash Extensions To Prevent Lash Mites

Since it has been established that lash extensions are not the cause of lash mites but the lack of proper hygiene, therefore it must be emphasized that eyelash extensions must be cleaned thoroughly to prevent lash mite infestations and to maintain your lash extensions. Severe lash mite infestation can cause the shedding of natural lashes as well as failure to attach extensions.

Here is how to take care of your lash extensions:

  • Make sure to remove makeup as soon as you come home
  • Wash your lashes with lash shampoo, which is specially designed to help clean lash extensions and prevent lash mites
  • Rinse and dry your eyelashes with a soft lint free towel or use a paper towel. You may use a blow dryer to gently dry your lashes on the cool setting
  • Using a clean mascara brush, comb through your lashes to de-clump and detangle them

What Are The Symptoms?

Certain factors predispose individuals to develop Demodex:

  • Caucasians
  • Aborigines
  • Nigerians
  • Maoris
  • Older people

Symptoms include

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Dryness
  • Watery eyes
  • Crusting around the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness around the eyes
  • Dermatitis around the eyes

Studies show that untreated infestations of lash mites can affect the front of the eye leading to complications such as:

  • Blepharitis
  • Basal cell carcinoma of the eyelid
  • Keratitis
  • Shedding of lashes or misalignment of lash hairs
  • Conjunctivitis

How Can They Be Treated?

You can visit an opthamologist if you start experiencing the above-mentioned signs and symptoms to get treated for your eyes. Here are some other tips to prevent lash mites

  • Wash your face twice a day to remove oils
  • Remove makeup daily
  • Do not share makeup with anyone, especially mascara
  • clean your eyelashes with tea tree oil. Take a little bit of tea tree oil diluted in water on a piece of cotton and wipe your lashes clean. Make sure to close your eyes tightly as this might sting
  • try to use oil-free eye makeup to prevent build-up of oils and clogging around pores


Lash mites are natural existing bugs that are part of the biome to prevent the buildup of dead skin cells and oils around your lash follicles. In some cases, these mites can multiply in number and reproduce rapidly causing irritation, eyelid skin conditions and eye complication. In this case, lash mites must be treated and removed, and their numbers should not be allowed to exceed to too great a degree.