Cringy but true, you can get lash mites with lash extensions. The main reason you get eyelash mites on your lash extensions is not properly cleaning your lashes and extensions on a daily basis.
Eyelash mites, also known as Demodex mites, are microscopic 8-legged parasites that live in or near your eyelash follicles. They are not lice. Eyelash mites crawl out of the hair at night to eat, mate, and lay eggs. Ewwww!
These microscopic parasites are part of our body’s normal microbiome. Everyone has some Demodex on their skin and hair and in low numbers, they are completely harmless. But if these mites overpopulate as a result of a compromised immune system or poor hygiene, you’ve got a problem.
Since lash mites feed on dead skin cells and your skin’s natural sebum (oil). So if you have lash extensions, it is very important to maintain good hygiene, remove your makeup at the end of the day, and shampoo your lash extensions daily to remove dirt, oil, and grime.
An overgrowth of Demodex has been linked to chronic blepharitis and other eye issues like conjunctivitis, keratitis, trichiasis, and basal cell carcinoma. Lash mites can also cause eyelash loss known as madarosis.
Can I get lash mites with eyelash extensions?
Yes, you can get lash mites while wearing extensions. But you won’t get eyelash mites from the application of eyelash extensions.
If you’re not properly cleansing your eyelash extensions at the base of the lash line every day, you could end up with an overpopulation of eyelash mites.
This is because lash mites feed on oil and dead skin cells. If you aren’t diligent about cleansing, this overabundance of food can lead to an overpopulation of lash mites.
How to prevent eyelash mites
Here are five easy ways to naturally treat and prevent a lash mite infestation.
1. Shampoo your lashes daily
Clean your lash extensions daily with an oil-free eyelash extension cleanser to prevent eyelash mites. Make sure the lash shampoo is oil-free since mites feed on oil and you don’t want to add to their food source.
Not only will oil weaken the lash glue, but it can add oils to your skin that attract eyelash mites. If you don’t have an oil-free cleanser, try using a Q-tip dipped in diluted baby shampoo and warm water.
Contrary to popular belief, you can shower with eyelash extensions to help keep your lashes and face clean.
2. Brush your extensions
Brush your extensions twice daily, in the morning and evening, to keep them from sticking together and looking their best. This will also help dislodge any dirt and oil that is clinging to your lashes.
3. Wash & exfoliate your face
Wash your face daily with an oil-free gentle cleanser and be sure to remove all makeup before bed. Avoid oil-based products that could clog pores or add extra oil to your skin. Exfoliate your face weekly to help remove dead skin cells as mites feed on both dead skin cells and oil.
4. Don’t share makeup or makeup brushes
Don’t share makeup and makeup brushes because lash mites can pass from person to person through direct contact.
5. Avoid sharing towels
Don’t share towels or makeup if you have eyelash mites as lash mites are contagious and can be spread from one person to another.
Can lash mites cause eyelash extensions to fall out?
Yes. An overpopulation of eyelash mites can damage the follicles of your natural lashes causing them to fall out. Remember, eyelash mites live inside your lash follicle.
If your natural lashes fall out, so will your extensions since they are glued to the base of your lashes.
This condition is known as madarosis. If you see excessive eyelash loss, let your doctor know so they can check for other eye conditions.
The inflammation from the overpopulation of eyelash mites can lead to swelling and irritation. This can also cause the eyelash extensions to fall out.
Treat the lash mites and get your natural lashes healthy again before wearing eyelash extensions.
Will the medication used to treat lash mites ruin my extensions?
Check with your doctor and remind them of your eyelash extensions. You can safely apply some medicated creams and ointments, although gels would be preferable with eyelash extensions because they dry faster.
Topicals need to be oil-free, or they could weaken the adhesive on your lash extensions.
For severe cases of lash mites, you may need to remove your extensions.
Book an appointment with your lash technician to safely remove your eyelash extensions. Let a professional do this so there’s no additional damage to your natural lashes.
Can I wear makeup while treating eyelash mites?
No. Avoid wearing makeup while treating eyelash mites.
Stop using makeup until the eyelash mites have been treated. Throw away the used makeup to prevent recurrences.
Symptoms can change quickly from mild to severe so it’s best to treat your natural lashes and get them back healthy before adding in makeup.
Once your doctor clears you to wear makeup again, avoid waterproof makeup. Waterproof makeup is hard to remove without an oil-based remover, and lash mites love oil.
Lash mites FAQ
How do I know if I have lash mites?
41% to 81% of people with blepharitis have an overpopulation of eyelash mites. Doctors do not usually check for lash mites.
If your symptoms are recurring or are not improving with traditional treatments, then have your doctor check for eyelash mites. Eye doctors can diagnose Demodex by using a special microscope.
Symptoms of eyelash mites
Some people with an overpopulation of bug eyelashes have no symptoms while some people are not so lucky. Symptoms can suddenly develop overnight.
Itching, irritation, and burning sensations are Blepharitis symptoms that can be due to lash mites.
Dry, flaky skin can be a symptom of eyelash mites. Rough, sandpaper skin, or feeling like you have something in your eye are others. Demodex has been linked to rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis.
Rosacea can occur on the skin and eyes. Seborrheic dermatitis appears on the eyebrows and the skin around the nose.
Clumped and misaligned lashes or trichiasis is an issue where the eyelashes grow toward the eye. The eyelash follicle grows abnormally. The lashes then rub on the eye and lead to further irritation. Trichiasis primarily affects the lower eyelid but can affect either or both.
Eyelash mites can cause redness and inflammation, leading to conjunctivitis and keratitis. Keratitis can lead to permanent vision loss. If you have these symptoms or suspect eyelash mites to be the cause, let your doctor know immediately.
What causes eyelash mites?
An increased number of mites on the eyelashes will cause demodicosis of the eyelid. Demodicosis is an overload of mites.
Demodicosis is rare and typically found in people with compromised immune systems like people taking immunosuppressive drugs, undergoing chemotherapy, or those with immunodeficiency diseases.
Poor hygiene practices can cause eyelash mites. Using thick, greasy products can block or clog your pores with oil (sebum) and dead skin cells.
These tiny bugs on eyelashes eat the dead skin cells and sebum that get clogged in your pores. Therefore you have a higher risk of overpopulation of mites if you have oily skin or don’t remove your makeup at night.
There are medical conditions that can lead to an overpopulation of eyelash mites. Acne, for example, produces an excessive amount of sebum.
With this ample food supply, lash mites can easily feed, mate, and reproduce. Other medical conditions which can lead to eyelash mites are alopecia and dermatitis.
Not only can certain medical conditions make way for eyelash mites, but genetic factors play a part. People from different areas will have other mites passed down from the parents to their children.
Treatment of eyelash mites
If you suspect you have lash mites while wearing extensions, talk to your doctor.
Since most people have eyelash mites and are asymptomatic, you only need to treat them if you have symptoms or there’s an overpopulation of the lash mite.
If you’re worried you’ll have to remove your extensions to treat the lash mites ask your doctor about over-the-counter products you can use at home that won’t ruin your lash extensions.
You can treat eyelash mites through medicated creams, ointments, or antibiotics if needed. Typically your doctor will prescribe a treatment, including an acaricide. An acaricide is a pesticide that kills members of the arachnid class.
To start, your doctors may recommend an over-the-counter medication with low concentrations of tea tree oil as a spray, scrub, or cleansing wipe.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Tea tree oil has antimicrobial, antiviral, antiseptic, and acaricidal properties that work against the bugs.” Your doctors may recommend this in addition to prescribing other medications.
How long does it take to get rid of lash mites?
The life cycle of eyelash mites is about 2-3 weeks, but depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may want to treat you for at least 30-60 days.
The treatment could be minor with an over-the-counter medication or a prescribed cream. You may need oral antibiotics in conjunction with the cream for more severe conditions.
You’ll likely need oral antibiotics if the eyelash mites have led to infection. You need to treat antibiotics past the time the symptoms stop to ensure the infection is gone. If you stop too soon, then the infection will come back. It can take a few months to treat eyelash mites, depending on the severity.
Can lash mites cause long-term damage to lashes?
Yes, eyelash mites can cause long-term damage to your lashes. Lash mites live in the hair follicle and feast on the oils, which can lead to damaged oil glands on your lash line and damaged lash follicles. Healthy lashes can not grow if the follicle is damaged.
Lash mites are linked to chronic inflammatory disorders, meibomian gland disease (MGD), and lipid tear deficiency which can lead to dry eye disease. In severe cases of Demodex overpopulation, surgery may be needed to correct the dry eye.
Are eyelash mites contagious?
Yes, eyelash mites are contagious. These lash mites can be passed on from person to person through close contact. Eyelash mites are transferable. You can easily get them by using someone else’s makeup or sharing makeup brushes.
How can I prevent getting lash mites again?
Using proper hygiene and avoiding oil-based products are your best options for preventing an overpopulation of eyelash mites.
Whether you have eye extensions or not, try washing your face and lashes twice daily. Use a wipe or a warm cloth to rub against the lash line to ensure you’re removing all debris or makeup.
Routinely exfoliate your face to help break down the oils on your skin that eyelash mites love to eat. Also, wash or replace your makeup tools regularly and stay in the habit of not sharing your makeup to prevent ongoing contamination.
Takeaways on lash mites
Eyelash mites or Demodex are microscopic parasites that live in our hair follicles. We usually have them as they are a natural part of our biome.
However, these little lash mites can cause many problems when there’s overpopulation. I recommend maintaining good hygiene practices and regularly washing your face and eyelash extensions to prevent any issues.
Felicia is a Singapore-based freelance writer specializing in beauty, health & wellness, and lifestyle. When she isn’t crafting exceptional beauty content, you can usually find her reading up on the latest skincare trends, indulging in good books and baked goods, and going on long walks.