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Eyelash mites are tiny mites that are typically described as parasitic and take up residence in a person’s pores and hair follicles. They are typically found in the pores and follicles of the face, especially in such areas as the nose, forehead, and the eyelashes; they may also be found on a person’s cheeks or chin. Scientifically referred to as Demodex folliculitis, eyelash mites slightly resemble worms but have very short legs, claws, and sharp mouth parts. Humans usually do not notice them, and low infestations are unlikely to cause health issues. Sometimes, however, a person with numerous mites may develop an infection or inflammation.
Eyelash mites are described as worm-like mites that live on and feed off of a host. These mites have claws and pointy mouths that facilitate feeding on secretions. They take up residence in a person’s hair follicles, in a face-down position, and eat dead skin and oily deposits. Sometimes, more than one eyelash mite buries itself inside a single hair follicle or pore. If too many bury themselves in a single follicle, however, they may cause the corresponding eyelash to fall out.
When this type of mite reproduces, it lays eggs in a hair follicle or pore. A single mite can lay more than two dozen eggs inside one follicle. The eyelash mites grow inside the follicle, though they are crowded together until they reach maturity. Once they reach maturity, the eyelash mites move out of the follicle and mate with other eyelash mites. At that point, they travel to other follicles, and the females lay new eggs; the cycle from birth to laying new eggs usually takes about a couple of weeks.
Scientists believe most people have eyelash mites, and having them has nothing to do with cleanliness. The mites do find some hosts more hospitable than others, however. For example, women who wear a good deal of eye makeup and people with oily skin may be more prone to them than others or deal with larger populations of them on their bodies. Elderly people and those with weakened immune systems may be more prone to high eyelash mite populations as well.
High numbers of eyelash mites can cause irritation and inflammation of a person’s skin. When this happens, a person is said to have a skin condition called demodicosis. Severe infestations of these mites may also lead to infections of the eyes or skin.