How to Recognize and Cure Eyebrow Mites
Mites are creatures that we often associate with dogs, but did you know that eyebrow mites can be found on up to 90 percent of all humans. These mites, known as demodex, are considered a commonly occurring parasite because they are so contagious that they can be found on almost all of us humans. Most of us play host to a demodex infestation without even realizing it, but there are many symptoms that can be caused by demodex—most of which are mistaken for other conditions.
Demodex is a parasite that looks a bit like a worm with eight total legs, making it a member of the arachnid family. That’s right, demodex parasites are cousin to the spider, only on a microscopic scale. There are different kinds of demodex mites and they work in different ways. The main varieties are folliculorum and brevis. The folliculorum type of mite survives by burrowing itself face-down into hair follicles on the face and head. Folliculorum mites are one of the most common types of demodex and they also tend to produce issues that we see on a daily basis, such as acne and rosacea. Unlike the folliculorum variety which resides in hair follicles, demodex brevis mites hang out in the glands in our skin that produce oil. These mites feed off of sebaceous oil, that is, the naturally-occurring oil that helps keep our skin hydrated and pliant.
Symptoms of Demodex Infestation
Individuals that have a low number of demodex mites on their skin are likely to go along without any noticeable symptoms save for a few mild outbreaks of pimples. Others, particularly those who have a more severe infestation, may suffer from persistent acne outbreaks that are difficult to treat, even with diligent use of acne face washes and general facial hygiene. Another symptom of a severe demodex infestation is hair loss. In fact, a huge percentage of people that experience hair loss will test positive for large numbers of demodex mites in the skin. As far as studies can suggest, the older a person gets the more hair, eyelash, and eyebrow mites they will develop.
Some of us even have a genetic trait that can best be explained as being sensitive to the presence of mites. This sensitivity is caused by an over-reactive immune system that detects the infestation as a danger to one’s health. The immune system response that occurs is similar to a rash that one might get when they are exposed to an allergen, or an item that they are allergic to. The rash is very red and may be accompanied by swollen blood vessels or blood vessels that seem to be close to the surface of the skin. Itchiness, irritation, burning, and enlarged pores may also occur, particularly in the forehead, cheeks, and nose areas. This condition is typically diagnosed as rosacea.
Because demodex primarily affects areas with large amounts of hair, the primary body parts that are affected by this pest are the scalp, cheek, eyelashes, and eyebrow. Mites are virtually undetectable to the naked eye, so visual detection is very slim. Redness of the scalp, eyebrows, or eyelids, as well as irritation, itchiness, or swelling may be indicators of an infection.
Treating Mites in Humans
If you’ve ever had a dog with a mite infestation known as mange, then you know how persistent these parasites can be. Although the actual species of mite that affects humans is different than that which affects our canine friends, a demodex infestation can prove to be equally as stubborn to treat. Studies have shown that all natural tea tree oil can be very helpful in trimming down the population of scalp, face, and eyebrow mites; however this treatment would not be suitable to use on one’s eyelashes as it could damage the eye and result in temporary or even permanent impairment. Pure tea tree oil can be rubbed onto the affected skin and multiple studies show that 100 percent pure tea tree oil will kill demodex in four to five minutes. For some, the pure oil proves to be too strong and can actually cause further irritation, primarily redness and burning. A great way to get around this reaction is to create a 50-50 mixture of tea tree oil and a “carrier oil,” such as olive or almond oil. This mixture can be applied to freshly-cleaned skin twice each day, preferably in the morning and at night, until the symptoms go away. At half of its natural strength, this tea tree oil mixture will kill the mites within a quarter-hour.
If you don’t feel comfortable using tea tree oil, or if you have serious issues such as rosacea, acne, or eczema-like symptoms that may become complicated by the use of tea tree oil, then you may want to see a dermatologist for help. A dermatologist will be able to look at a skin sample under a microscope to confirm (or deny) the presence of parasites. If the mites are indeed present on your skin then you may receive a prescription medication called Ivermectin, or a similar off-brand product. This medication is often treated to relieve parasites such as lice and scabies, and is likely to reduce the number of skin, scalp, and eyebrow mites on your head.