Just How do you Kill Demodex Mites ?

demodex-mite

Demodex mites and rosacea seem to be a popular, if not somewhat controversial pairing.Even though there is no proven link between rosacea symptoms and the presence of demodex mites, many rosacea sufferers are interested in eliminating demodex mites to see if their rosacea symptoms improve.

So just how can you kill them ? Demodex mites are tiny, and live naturally in everyone’s skin, but sometimes in abundance with rosacea papules and pustules. They are quite difficult to kill.

Read on if you’d like to know more about how to elminate demodex mites.

First of all, why would you want to eliminate them ?

There may be some new evidence that proteins from a bacteria that can be isolated from demodex mites cause an immune reaction in rosacea sufferers. I’m still not a believer in the involvement of these critters in the cause of rosacea.

Just in case more evidence is found in the future, though, demodex mites are worth further understanding. Indeed demodex mites might be proven to not be involved in the pathogenesis or rosacea.

Mites and Faeces

Some recent publicity related to demodex mites conjured some impressive images of what demodex mites look like and might be doing in your skin. These comments lead to lots of headlines and articles that might confuse you even more about the role of demodex in rosacea. Here are some quotes attributed to Dr. Kavanagh, one of the few researchers making actual progress in this direction.

Rosacea may be caused by mite faeces in your pores

15:57 30 August 2012 by Debora MacKenzie

Kevin Kavanagh of the National University of Ireland, in Maynooth, now thinks he has discovered the cause – and it isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Tiny mites – eight-legged arachnids related to spiders – live in the pores of our facial skin. They are particularly fond of the hair follicles of eyebrows and eyelashes, and the oily pores most common on the nose, forehead and cheeks. Called Demodex, the mites eat sebum, or facial oil, and colonise your face at puberty.

They crawl about your face in the dark to mate, then crawl back into pores to lay their eggs and die. Healthy adults have around one or two mites per square centimetre of facial skin. People with rosacea, however, can have 10 times as many, says Kavanagh. Research suggests that the stress that causes flare-ups of rosacea changes the chemicals in sebum, making it better food for mites.

Rosacea often improves with antibacterial drugs that don’t affect the mites, such as tetracyclines. Kavanagh thinks this is because rosacea is caused by a reaction to bacteria in the mite’s faeces.

Demodex does not have an anus and therefore cannot get rid of its faeces. “Their abdomen just gets bigger and bigger, and when they die and decompose they release their faeces all at once in the pore,” says Kavanagh. When the mites are numerous, he believes that the material is enough to trigger an immune reaction, inflammation and tissue damage.

Killing Demodex Invitro (in the test tube)

We know from the paper In vitro and in vivo killing of ocular Demodex by tea tree oil, that various oils and solutions can kill demodex mites quite quickly in the test tube.

Solution Demodex Kill Time
100% alcohol 4 minutes
50% tea tree oil15 minutes
100% tea tree oil4 minutes
100% carraway oil4 minutes
100% dill weed oil14 minutes

Note that carraway oil and dill weed oil are toxic to the eye.

Studies have also confirmed that ether, xylol, benzene, Danish (compound polysulfide ointment) ointment can kill demodex in a few minutes.

Note that demodex mites have a life cycle of 14-18 days.

Ivermectin

Ivermectin is used in dermatology against some parasitic infestations in humans. The drug is used in the treatment of patients with different forms of scabies, human body lice, head lice, demodecicosis, et. al. Published literature includes a case study of one patient who was treated with topical permethrin and oral Ivermectin. In another case report of one patient, the papules and pustules of rosacea were difficult to treat until oral ivermectin was included in the treatment regime.

Several rosacea sufferers on the rosacea-support email group report success in treating their rosacea with Ivermectin, but the benefits were only short lived.

Ivermectin (Stromectol, Mectizan, Ivomec, Oramec, Cardomec) has been patented as a treatment for rosacea.

I would advise extreme caution should you consider a 0.5% Topical Ivermectin prescription like Sklice, which is only for the scalp and hair.

Galderma has recently started selling Soolantra, a 1% Ivermectin Cream for the treatment of the papules and pustules of rosacea. Soolantra is showing promising results as a mainstay treatment for rosacea.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil (TTO) is sourced from the Melaluca tree which is native to Eastern Australia. Tea Tree Oil has been shown to kill demodex mites in as little as 4 minutes. External application of undiluted tea tree oil and/or at inappropriate high doses has been associated with toxicity, including death, in cats and other animals.

There is so much interest in the properties of tea tree oil that a research group has been created within the School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences at The University of Western Australia.

In a recent study, TTO was used to eliminate demodex mites living in the eyelashes of ocular rosacea sufferers. Study participants were given weekly lid scrubs with 50% tea tree oil and a daily lid scrub with a tea tree shampoo. After six weeks all 6 participants showed improvement in conjuctival irritation and inflammation.

TTO is not soluble in water, but is soluble in alcohol, but sadly that would be unsuitable for use around the eye. Tea Tree Oil can be diluted 50% in Macadamia nut oil for use around the eyes. Lid scrubs with 50% Tea Tree Oil did produce irritation in the participants but the effect was found to be minimised if care was used to avoid spilling it into the eye.

Full strength tea tree oil should never be used anywhere on the face.

Kwellada/Elimite (Permethrin)

Back in 2000, Annette Anderson advocated using Permethrin 5% on the face to eliminate the mites. Permethrin was originally used to treat scabies. She warned that getting it in your eyes burns terribly and that the instructions mention that you should not use it on your face. A few members of rosacea-support had bad reactions to using permethrin on their face, so use Permethrin with extreme care. In the U.S., 5% Permethrin (Elimite Cream) is only available by prescription.

If you are considering Permethrin in any form it would be wise to consider Dr. Linda Sy’s advice to “solicit the cooperation and supervision of their respective dermatologists, get a KOH skin scraping to establish the presence of florid demodex population … Participants try the Permethrin on a small area of face first, to determine if any immediate severe problem exists”.

Seabuckthorn Oil

Despite claims on various internet sites, I have not been able to find any published evidence that Seabuckthorn oil kills demodex mites. If you know of some evidence, please post in the comments below. In the meantime, please disregard any claims that you find that Seabuckthorn Oil kills demodex mites.

A natural approach

For those interested in a more natural approach to treating rosacea including using Olive Leaf Extract and Tea Tree Oil see Rachelle’s Alternative Treatments for Demodex Mites.

Selenium Sufide

Note that despite some media coverage relating to Selenium Sufide (the active ingredient in Selsun shampoo);

Your Health:

The active ingredient in the shampoo, selenium sulfide, might help control the Demodex skin mite population that triggers the inflammation associated with rosacea. People use the shampoo to wash their faces gently.

(Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.)

Selenium Sulfide has not been found to kill demodex mites.

Over to You

Have you tried any treatments to eliminate demodex mites ? Did you have a bad reaction them ? any suceess ? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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2,299 Reader Comments

  1. Simone says:

    I got an LED light therapy mask for my wrinkles and my demodex are dying off!!

    I’ve been alternating a half hour of red light and a half hour of blue light each day. It’s been about 2 & a half weeks and my face is less bumpy and my pores are vanishing.

    I’ve also been making a face splash with a little hot water & lots of Himalayan salt dissolved in it. After I wash my face and my pores are open, I pat the salt splash all over my face, neck & behind my ears and let it air dry then go to bed.

    I can feel the demodex either biting or running around…it kind of tingles/stings. It also will make a pimple (especially a popped one) look much better in the morning.

    • Gloria says:

      That’s amazing, Simone!! I’m going to give the LED light therapy mask a try! I’ve been suffering from Demodex mites for just about a year now. Can’t wait to try this and see how it works. Does the salt water kill the mites too? I’m wondering if the light therapy is sufficient enough.

      • Tony says:

        You need to take a quart teaspoon of borax in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with water preferably not on an empty stomach 3 – 4 times a day.By day 5 you should feel all the mites dead but the chelation or hertzing from the dead mites can be quite painful. Basically its going to get worse before it gets better as the mites dont have an anus so they shed their whole body and waste when they die which can be very painful in the skin. the other to consider doing is moxidectin which is a product labelled for mammals much like ivermectin except it lasts in your body for 84 days killing every cycle of the mite https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/224853318388 I have it coming in the post so i’m going to use it but I think i will be fully healed from the borax/apple cider vinegar easily before it gets here

        • jim says:

          Tony,

          Thanks you so much for suggesting moxidectin! I have used Ivermectin to keep my mite problem in check but still always had skin lesions/papulas from the mites but not as bad in the past on my face, the ivermectin helped but never got rid of the egg cycle. I took a dose of moxidectin in the middle of Oct. and my lesion/papulas are now all going away. The new ones that crop up are smaller and heal faster. I did not have them just on my face but also on the back of neck, back, chest, and shoulders. The ones on my back of my neck have been there for over 4 years. They are now all gone!! My dermatologist, said there is no way it could be a mite problem since they can’t live on my neck and arms, back and chest, it was just me picking at lesions! She never addressed where the “lesions” came from, and any scabbing over to heal would always wash off while taking a shower, which made the healing take longer, which was always weird to me since other wounds I would get did not act this way. So she is of course was wrong. Thank you again!!!!

  2. Mike Marca says:

    Yea, I tried that laser light therapy on demodex. It works, sort of. I also tried rife therapy, which does work great for muscles that ache, but sort of for demodex. Sometimes, though, I still do use these two therapies for demodex. Mike

  3. A thought – I’ve had Rosacea for about 10 years (I’m 62 and went through menopause aged 50) off and on. One product which has definitely helped, I think with reduction in mites and mite activity is a sanitiser called Natrasan. It’s safe to use on babies… Safe to spray into eyes as well. I have no blepharitis since using this a couple of times a week, alterating with blephagel, and it also soothes and clears the pustules of my rosacea. Worth a pop!

  4. Cynthia says:

    Has anyone else tried castor seed oil and/or green tea? Is a high ferritin a risk factor for proliferation of demodex? High ferritin follows the hemochromatosis gene common in Caucasians. My rosacea resolved with iron removal but the high iron in the skin is permanent perhaps.

    • Amanda Clemons says:

      Castor oil will break down eggs, but it’s sticky and you have to use it for a good 3 rounds of egg hatching cycle. Applying it multiple times a day. I have even read that 90 days is the most successful.

  5. Mike Marca says:

    The 9 volt battery is still working for me! Just wet the area and apply the battery for 25 seconds. Without the 9 volt battery I would have a heck of a time controlling them. Also, before bed I apply “Pro-Tech Skin” to my eyebrows and face.

    • Tony says:

      You need to take a quart teaspoon of borax in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with water preferably not on an empty stomach 3 – 4 times a day.By day 5 you should feel all the mites dead but the chelation or hertzing from the dead mites can be quite painful. Basically its going to get worse before it gets better as the mites dont have an anus so they shed their whole body and waste when they die which can be very painful in the skin. the other to consider doing is moxidectin which is a product labelled for mammals much like ivermectin except it lasts in your body for 84 days killing every cycle of the mite https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/224853318388 I have it coming in the post so i’m going to use it but I think i will be fully healed from the borax/apple cider vinegar easily before it gets here

      • Gloria says:

        Hi Tony, Thanks for the information about a quarter of a teaspoon of borax in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and water! How much water do you use? And also have you started trying this method? When you are done with this treatment, can you please reply back to this post to let me know how things are going?

        (I also just wanted to let everyone know that I went to the beach and swim in the ocean for three days. I spent about a total of half an hour to one hour in the water each day, and I feel like it’s helping my skin. I would have stayed longer, except hurricane Ian was coming. I do believe that ocean water does help and I’m thinking of taking some salt water baths at home to see how that works.)

        • Tony says:

          Hi Gloria, I’m 95% healed as of today. No mites whatsoever in my body at this stage all movement and itching has stopped. I formed a very bad rash on my chest from them and that has all but gone at this stage but it has been very painful to go through the hertzing or chelation which is the pain caused in the skin from them dying. My eyes have been severely affected also but have almost cleared up as well. I’m feeling great today as finally I have had a few nights sleep. I have never felt so itchy in my life, nearly sent me mad. I’ve been on it 6 days now and will probably push through for another 6 days. Also consider adding msm (important mineral) to your regime, the reason I ended up finding out I had the mite was because I went on a msm superdosing program and it pushed all the mites to the top of my skin but from there they just would not leave. Msm is a natural sulphur found in our body but we should have 100 grams in our body and we basically run on zero. All parasites lead to leaky gut so you may need to work on that also. I am certainly going to

        • Tony says:

          I should mention that apple cider vinegar kills the mites point blank and the borax removes the husk off the eggs and kills them by doing that 🙂

  6. LF says:

    Hey, Mike and evryone. I helped one more person with liquid latex, from what i know demodex need air, and if for 10-12 hour they don’t have it, they are done. And we found easier way to use it. So, you can use liquid latex once a week (10-12 hours) for 8 weeks and it should be fine, but better to split it on 3 different applications.
    1) First application from 9 AM to 8 PM apply latex on eyebrows, aplly it very thin on eyebrows, coz latex very sticky. At 7 PM apply some oil or watery mask on eyebrows for 1 hour, to destroy structure of latex, coz you need to remove it and keep hair on your eyebrows safe. When you will see that structure of latex is destoyed, slowly and carefully remove it, to keep your hair safe. For practice, first you can aplly latex on hair on your leg, just to understand how it works.
    2) From 9 PM to 8 AM aplly latex all over your head, but not on your eyes and eyebrows. Ofc it’s better to have not very long hair. At 8 AM just remove it, if you have short hair, you don’t need to have wattery mask or oil.
    3) From 9 PM to 8 AM of next day apply, if you have problems with eyes, close your eyes and apply lates on top of your eyes, one massy application. Without a gap between top eyelid and buttom. So we need to block air from getting under your eyelids. At 7 AM you will need oil or water mask for 1 hour to remove it. After this 1 hour of oil or watery mask, you can help with hot water.
    You need to have latex without paint. Just regular white latex.

  7. Florence McLane says:

    I am so glad to find this site.
    I have been fighting these awful things for years. I have just started using Cliradex light foam and Ovantemite mite eliminating cream from Amazon. I have recently had some limited success with alcohol. I am discouraged.

  8. Amanda says:

    Ok I have been suffering with a massive demodex brevis infestation for 14 months. I have tried almost every treatment from earthclinic.com, spent a ton of money, and even shaved my head. I tried ivermectin, permithrin cream, doxycycline, bacitracin ointment; by far the bacitracin ointment and doxycycline were the most successful. However, it never stopped the eggs from hatching thus carrying on the infestation. Then I had to stop the doxycycline and my situation got bad again within about 3 weeks. After months of suffering I may have found a treatment that actually helps. First I shower alternating days between dove original and raw natural african black soap. Then I spray my whole body down with hypochlorous acid and wipe it with paper towels, this is safe and can be used around eyes, in ears and nose. Then I wipe my body with witch hazel wipes and apply a mixture of castor oil and baking soda paste. I also drink baking soda and lemon juice and suppliment my immune system with vitamins. I leave this paste on go to bed and get rest, through the day I add more of the paste or spray with hypochlorous acid. It stops them from moving around kills them and the castor oil breaks down the eggs. The trick is to keep this up for the life of the mite and all the egg hatching cycle. Then to treat regularly as maintenance. I am not cleared yet but I am getting massive results and I’m hoping I can grow my hair out again soon. If you are suffering with this you are not alone. Please do not drink borax. The gentleman who advised this has had a massive stroke and is permanently suffering health issues. It is impossible to know if his stroke was caused by drinking the borax but it’s not worth finding out by drinking borax. Plus in my experience it didn’t work anyway. I feel it’s important to note that baking soda can and will dry out your skin and hair causing acne and hair breakage with prolonged use so it’s important to support your skin and hair health and decrease to maintenance as soon as possible and unfortunately that time frame depends on how bad your infestation is. For skin moisturizer I use vegetable glycerin or Vaseline. Hopefully this helps someone.

    • Jim says:

      Tony,

      Thanks you so much for suggesting moxidectin! I have used Ivermectin to keep my mite problem in check but always had skin lesions/papulas from the mites but not as bad in the past, the ivermectin helped but never got rid of the eggs. I took a dose of moxidectin in the middle of Oct. and my lesion/papulas are all going away. The new ones that crop up are smaller and heal faster. I had them just not on my face but on the back of neck, back, chest, and shoulders. The ones on my back of my neck have been there for over 4 years. They are now gone!! My dermatologist, said there is no way it could be a mite problem since they can’t live on my neck and arms, it was just me picking at sores! She is of course wrong. Thank you again!!!!

    • Douglas S says:

      Nu-creme as described in this forum and heat treatment of bedding and clothes

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