Did you ever experience a burning, itchy sensation around your lash line? Or have you ever noticed your eyelashes getting thinner and falling out prematurely? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you may have an eyelash lice infestation.
If you have visited Divine Lashes then you have heard us talk to you about eyelash mites. I know, gross. Let’s look at what these eyelash bugs are exactly, how to treat and how to prevent them.
What Are Lash Mites?
Lash mites or eyelash mites (also known as Demodex folliculitis) are microscopic parasites found in the follicles on our faces. They eat the dead skin cells and oils on our eyelids. Lash mites lay their eggs in your lash follicles which can lead to clogged pores and eventually, eyelash loss.
No matter how many times I talk about eyelash mites, they always make my skin crawl! Just like we have skin mites and dust mites, eye mites are no different.
They help keep the lash follicles clean because they are eating dirt and oils. Only when there are many eyelash bugs does it become a problem.
In the image below, you can see how eye mites can be found in the follicles of your eyelashes.
Do Eyelash Extensions Cause Lash Mites?
Eyelash extensions do not cause lash mites. Poor hygiene is the number one cause of eye mites. Lash mites are attracted to dirty lashes because they feed on the sebum that your lash follicles produce. By limiting the food source, you can prevent mites on your eyelids and extensions.
Properly caring for your eyelash extensions is key to avoiding mites on eyelids. Dirty eyelashes from excessive oil and bacteria buildup would be a perfect environment for an infestation.
So what do eyelash mites look like?
Eye mites are very small. They are oval-shaped and have 8 legs. Their size ranges from 0.3 to 0.4 mm. These mites are translucent and usually cannot be seen by the naked eye.
I will address lash extension hygiene in this article so keep on reading!
Are Eyelash Mites Harmful?
Eye mites are harmless when they are in small numbers. However, when they reproduce, they can cause problems for your lashes. A large infestation of lash mites will damage your lash follicles, cause your lashes to fall out, and may even lead to vision problems.
Does Everyone Have Eyelash Mites?
Yes, everyone has a small number of mites on their eyelashes and most people don’t even notice. However, most people do not have enough to cause any problems. It is only when the population of these eyelash bugs grows too large that they can cause problems.
How Do I Know if I Have Lash Mites?
When there are too many mites on eyelashes, they get overcrowded on the lash line resulting in numerous mites facing down in each hair follicle.
If there are too many lash mites in one hair follicle your natural lash will slip out and you will experience lash loss.
The picture below was taken from a new client who came for an eyelash extension consultation. She had her lashes done at another salon before coming to us.
As you can see, the client suffered from severe lash mite build-up on her lash line.
Symptoms of eyelash mites can be classified in varying levels of severity:
- Mild symptoms. There are no noticeable symptoms at this stage. Eyelid mites are usually harmless, most people don’t even know they have them.
- Moderate symptoms. You may experience itchiness around the eye, redness, and swelling of the eyelid.
- Advanced symptoms. Symptoms will progress towards scaly, rough patches of skin. You might also feel a burning sensation in the eye, blurry vision, and light sensitivity.
How to Get Rid of Lash Mites?
Now that we know what eye mites are let’s talk about how to avoid an infestation.
Lash mites do not like the light, so they are face down in your hair follicle throughout the day; at night is when they come out.
If you have makeup, dead skin, and/or oils on your lash line this becomes a buffet for them. The more they have to eat the more they will lay eggs because your lash line has become the perfect place for them to start a family. This is how you get an infestation.
So how do you prevent lash mites? The most important tip to remember is to wash your face at night!
Here at Divine Lashes, we provide every client with a bottle of lash shampoo which consists of distilled water, baking soda, and baby shampoo.
The baby shampoo suppresses the growth of bacteria which is exactly what you want to get rid of lash mites and prevent them. We also recommend taking a break from wearing makeup around the eye area.
If the infestation is severe, we recommend taking a break from eyelash extensions and speaking to an eye doctor.
So, what steps should you take to cleanse your lashes when wearing extensions to avoid Demodex? Let’s see below!
Washing Your Eyelash Extensions to Avoid Lash Mites (Step-by-Step)
To get rid of lash mites, you need to wash your eyelashes. There is no way around it. However, if you wear lash extensions, you can’t simply splash water full force on your face. You have to be mindful of your extensions. Simply follow the steps below to cleanse your lashes and get rid of lash mites!
Step 1: Use Lash Shampoo
Most lash salons will sell you a specific lash shampoo to clean your lashes. If not, you can use baby shampoo. You want to avoid generic cleansers that could contain oils that will dissolve your lash adhesive.
Step 2: Apply Lash Shampoo With a Soft Makeup Brush
Start by wetting your brush and then add a small amount of lash shampoo. Gently massage the lashes and brush in a downward motion. Do not make vigorous upward or sideway motions.
Step 3: Dry Your Lashes
Pat your face gently with a clean and lint-free towel to remove any excess water. Alternatively, you can use a blow-dryer on a cool and low setting.
Step 4: Comb Your Lashes
Use a clean mascara wand or a lash comb to comb through your lashes and untangle them. This way you can ensure they don’t stick together or form clumps.
Will Eyelash Extensions Fall Out if I Wash Them?
I often get asked if washing eyelash extensions will cause them to fall out prematurely. Some clients think they have to choose between extensions falling too soon or eyelash lice. Well, they couldn’t be farther from the truth.
There is a common misconception that your eyelash extensions might be falling faster if you wash them.
Indeed, we don’t want you over-washing your lashes aggressively and scrubbing, rubbing, or tugging them with a facecloth.
However, washing your eyelash extensions gently with a safe shampoo cleanser is recommended for maintaining healthy and beautiful lash extensions. As long as it’s done with care, you will not lose your extensions any more than you would normally.
If you want to know more about how long eyelash extensions last and your lash growth cycle, check out this article I have written recently.
Client #1: Lash Mite From Goggles
Let me tell you a story about a client I once had who wore goggles in the shower.
She didn’t want the water to hit her eyelashes and make her extensions fall off. She was not washing her lashes or letting the water rinse them out.
Pro Tip: I have written a complete article on how to shower with eyelash extensions without damaging them right here!
When she came to Divine Lashes, you could see the build-up on her lashes as soon as she walked in.
The Divine Lash Artist who did a consultation with her learned that her prior lash technician (from another salon) did not give her proper after-care instructions and just did a removal and a new set because she was not sure what this client had!
During the consultation, the Divine Lash Artist went through after-care instructions, and how it will help her lash mite infestation.
It took 20 minutes to clean the lash line with lash shampoo!
Because the extensions used on this client were too heavy, the Divine Lash Artist first removed the old extensions and then applied a fresh set.
The set was a recovery set as her lashes were weak, thin, and sparse. Even after the appointment she was told about after-care and lash mites…
Once you get an infestation, it takes a while to get rid of it. Every time she came in for a fill, we would monitor her lashes to see how they were doing.
She was letting the water hit her lash extensions in the shower and we began to see an improvement in her lashes.
This unfortunately did not last; she began wearing the goggles again in the shower and we noticed the build-up again.
She noticed that when she washed her lashes many of her extensions and lashes were coming out…
Her lashes were falling prematurely due to the abundance of lash mites!
She had less and less natural lashes and we noticed some of her lashes slipping out when we washed them. We had to tell her we could no longer put eyelash extensions on her until this cleared up.
This is one extreme example where we had to refuse to service a client.
She understood the situation, took a break from lash extensions, and started washing her lashes regularly.
The infestation eventually got resolved and the client restarted wearing eyelash extensions with healthy cleaning habits.
Client #2: Lash Mites From Poor Hygiene
If you wanted to know what dirty eyelash extensions look like, you’re in for a treat. Dirty lashes are often caked with makeup, oil, and other impurities. This can make them appear yellow, brown, or even black. In addition, they may be matted and tangled.
What you see in the picture above is oil buildup that solidified.
The client tried to remove these chunks by herself and that’s why you can see very messy (twisted) lashes. These blocks of sebum are not dangerous but they are the perfect lash mite buffet!
This client has been coming to Divine Lashes for about a year, and never had this on her lash line before. Naturally, her Divine Lashes technician started asking questions.
The client doesn’t wear make-up and doesn’t use any products for her face. So what could it be?
It turns out she wasn’t washing her lashes at all…
Remember that little bottle of liquid gold (lash shampoo) we provide at the appointment? Lash shampoo suppresses the growth of bacteria and cleans your lash line.
Thankfully, we were able to re-educate about washing the eyelashes and this problem got resolved.
How Do I Know if I Have Eyelash Mites?
Since lash mites are not visible to the naked eye, you have to rely on symptoms that indicate their presence. The most common symptoms are itchy, dry, or red eyes, burning skin, blepharitis, eyelash loss, and scaly or flaky sin.
What Causes Eyelash Mites?
The most common causes that can contribute to an eye mite infestation are not cleaning your lashes regularly, sharing makeup or brushes with someone who has lash mites, living in a humid or dirty environment, skin infection, and weak immune system
Can You Feel Demodex Mites Crawling?
No, you cannot feel Demodex mites crawling. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye and they do not bite.
Does Everyone Have Eyelash Mites?
Yes, everyone has mites in their eyelashes. However, some people are more susceptible to an infestation than others. Lash bugs are only a problem when they proliferate in large quantities and cause symptoms.
How Do You Get Rid of Eyelash Mites Naturally?
According to a clinical study, tea tree oil is an effective treatment to get rid of Demodex mites thanks to the Terpinen-4-ol active ingredient. You can make a lash wash by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to warm water.
How Do You Know if Your Eyelash Follicle Is Damaged?
If you have an eyelash follicle that is damaged, it will not be able to produce a healthy lash. The lash will be weak and may fall out easily. In addition, the follicle will be inflamed and may be red or swollen.
How Many Eyelash Mites Do We Have?
The exact average for the number of lash mites a person has is unknown. However, a recent study found that people above the age of 70 years old have 1000 to 2000 mites on their lashes on average.
Where Do Lash Mites Come From?
Lash mites are often passed from one person to another through close contact, such as hugging or kissing. They can also be transferred by sharing makeup or towels.
With everything that’s being said about lash mites, keep in mind that most people don’t even know they exist. Keeping a clean and healthy lash line is the way to go to prevent eyelash mites.
Eyelash extensions are safe and do not cause lash mites. Poor hygiene does!
Please let me know in the comments below if you had any bad experiences with eyelash mites or if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you.
Check out our article on how to sleep with eyelash extensions if you want to avoid your lashes falling out while you sleep!
Ok, ladies and gentlemen now you know all about lash mites and how to keep your eyelashes clean. Have a goodnight and don’t let the eyelash bugs bite!
– Asako 🙂
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Blepharitis. Retrieved from mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/blepharitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20370141 [Accessed 21st December 2020]
- National Eye Institute. (2019). Blepharitis. Retrieved from https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/blepharitis [Accessed 21st December 2020]
- Lui J, et al. (2010). Pathogenic role of Demodex mites in blepharitis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2946818 [Accessed 21st December 2020]
- American Optometric Association. Blepharitis. Retrieved from https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/blepharitis [Accessed 21st December 2020]
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