Just How do you Kill Demodex Mites ?


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 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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1,860 Reader Comments

  1. Mike Marca says:

    I just had my first major breakout since I started using both Pro-Tech-Skin and Pine Pitch Salve. I used both alcohol soakings and rife therapy to put it down. Sometimes I just need to kill the mites instead of moving them out. I lasted two months without a breakout. I will start it up again. Hopefully it last for another two months. Mike

  2. Della Sacks says:

    Mike – I posted the following 2 days ago :

    Bought this 3 days ago with the moisturizer from same company and shampoo. Wow. I have had demodex for at least two years and as a person who never had a blemish on her English skin, it was devastating. I had managed to control it, but as soon as I put it on my face, the mites ran for the hills. This morning, after only one day of treatment, my skin seems clear. What a response. The mites had even invaded my lips and the inside soft tissue of the mouth. This morning, there is a huge improvement. Even the rosacea, which was minor, is significantly less – almost gone. As I said, I did have this under control (so I thought), so my face was was relatively clear, but I now realize how many of these blighters were hiding. I had them in the eyelashes, but again I had controlled the situation but not cured it. As soon as I put the face cleanser on, they disappeared within seconds. I know that this is not the end of them and I know about the cycle, but if I use this everyday, at least my skin is clear and I know they are being killed in the hair follicles. They did get into my hair and I started using TTO with coconut oil which stopped the itching. I will wash my hair again today with the shampoo and I am confident it will take care of the situation. I will report back soon to report my findings. The three products are Demodocia face wash, face cream, and hair shampoo. Worth every penny.

    This morning after using it 2x a day, this is the third day, I cannor see any mites on my face, rosacea is almost clear, and the ones inside my mouth are gone. These products come with a guarantee so money back after three months. The face wash tends to turn the skin red, but who cares. This is the best I have come across. I will do it for 90 days and if my face is clear after that period, I will assume they are gone. I like the moisturizer, so I will use it in the future. They say it works, I am thrilled with the results. The hair shampoo has stopped the itching and i also thought they had gone to the back of my neck. I could feel these bumps. All gone. They are most likely back in the hair follicles, but that’s okay as they die there and cannot come out at night to proliferate. Makes sense to me I actually paid $82 on Amazon and received it the next day. That includes tax and I got free shipping. The Umgex costs about $480 Australian dollars Their dollar is worth about 70 cents. I was not willing to invest that much so tried the Domodocia. It is cheaper and it works. Try it. It clears the face, hair and neck – or anywhere you put it. Good luck and let me know how you do. Della

  3. Mike Marca says:

    Della, your Demodocia contains Sea Buckthorn oil and TTO. I have tried both of these, but thanks for the infro. Mike

    • Della says:

      Yes I know but as of this morning I don’t have one mite on my face or in my mouth. Last night I was able to literally pick them off the side of my mouth while they tried to escape. Today my skin is as clear as it was two years ago. At this point I don’t care what’s in it , I will use it. I did react to tto but it was because I used it full strength. I have tried the other stuff too, but never In This format and strength. Whatever else is in it, it is working. Now my head is not itching and I noticed less hair fallout. I can only tell you my experience, what I experience last night with my mouth was proves to me that this is actually killing the suckers. I have had success with several products but only to control them. But reasonntells me this is different. Maybe it is a stronger control, but if there is no other breakout in 90 days the cycle is broken. I have nothing to lose. Good luck.

      • Monikita says:

        Della, I cannot find that Demodocia products anywhere.. can you please tell me where you bought it?

  4. Monikita says:

    Just found on Amazon.com. Is it possible to find it somewhere in uk? :/

  5. Della Sacks says:

    I did some research and it seems it is only on Amazon. This is what I found about purchasing.

    Shopping on Amazon.com from United Kingdom. … You can get almost anything on Amazon.com and ship it to United Kingdom through Borderlinx. You can buy from the USA on Amazon.com: dvds, books, the kindle, toys, headphones or clothing, jewelry and kitchenware. And with Borderlinx you can ship it to United Kingdom.

    Hope this helps

  6. Anthony says:

    Hey Thanks for this support group and info on how to kill these things
    Im, in Australia and very comforted knowing there is help out there
    I have suffered since 2002
    Thanks to this forum and community i finally realize what has been causing my skin conditions

    Flowers of Sulfur internally and externally do help dry the skin buts still really itchy
    Dettol Alcohol and the Dettol original soap bars you can find on eBay certainly calm the skin

    If its not too much trouble can some one lead me to a good product that will kill them for good


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