Microscopic mites may be root of eye problems in humid climates like Thailand

Demodex mite

Although it may be disgusting and horrifying to think about, crusty and inflamed eyelids could be a sign of mite overgrowth. And, if you live in a humid, tropical country like Thailand, such a condition is surprisingly common. According to AAO.org, eyelids that are itchy, inflamed, or continuously red may indicate that you have a mite problem.

Another telltale sign of a mite overgrowth is of waking up to crusty eyes or the presence of a yellowish, hard, discharge around your eye. As all humans have mites on their skin, it is when they overpopulate that they become an issue.

Microscopic mites may be root of eye problems in humid climates like Thailand | News by Thaiger

Such a mite overgrowth can cause blurred vision and eye-watering in addition to other symptoms mentioned. Demodex mites can be found living inside your eyelash follicles and are often associated with the skin condition rosacea. These nasty mites can also cause blepharitis. In fact, recent studies show that around 40 to 80% of those with blepharitis also have an out-of-control mite population on their eyelids. Gross right? If you are already repulsed, don’t worry, so are we.

Even more disturbing is that the mites have eight legs and measure only .3 millimetres long, making them even more horrifying. Gerami D. Seitzman, a corneal and external disease specialist at the University of California San Francisco says almost everyone has some amount of Demodex mites. Seitzman says the bugs feast on dead skin cells and sebum. In case you haven’t personally witnessed how a humid climate can cause excessive sebum production (think whiteheads and pimples), trust us as the situation is all too real for many who seek medical help.

How is a Demodex mite overgrowth diagnosed?

An ophthalmologist will determine if you have too many of these creepy critters by pulling out a few eyelashes and looking at them under a special microscope. But, if your doctor doesn’t have the correct microscope, they will usually look for symptoms of the mites, such as a cylindrical sleeve on your eyelash. The sleeves are made of waxy debris that is clasped tightly to the base of the eyelash. If you aren’t about to vomit, then you may get a rubbish bin ready as it may be sickening to hear that the sleeves are partially made of mite poop.

Microscopic mites may be root of eye problems in humid climates like Thailand | News by Thaiger

So microscopic, mite crap is living on your eyelashes, and of course, the mites themselves. But, what can you do once receiving such a nightmarish diagnosis? The first line of treatment for ocular Demodex is usually an over-the-counter topical medicine with a low concentration of tea tree oil or hypochlorous-based acid. Some medicine names could include Cliradex, OCuSOFT, or Oust.

However, if you are into DIY remedies, a simple Google search will reveal that a 50% diluted tea tree oil and water mixture applied carefully to the eyelid can do the trick. As tea tree oil has antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, acaricidal, and antiviral properties, the bugs should be wiped out after using the oil one to two times per day for a period of one to three months. If the problem persists, anti-parasitic medications may be prescribed. These meds will also be recommended for the treatment of rosacea. Common anti-parasitic medicines for Demodex mites include ivermectin and metronidazole.

Despite the creepy thought of an eight-legged bug infesting your eyelids, try to remember that they have probably always been on your skin, only at less alarming rates. If you suspect mites to be the cause of your eye issues, do yourself a favour and take an emotional support friend with you to your trusted opthalmologist.


Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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