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

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

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1,750 Reader Comments

  1. alex says:

    Mike, Michael, please, share if Artestatin has worked for you and has eliminated completely these mites.

  2. Mike Marca says:

    Artestatin was working somewhat (just kept them at bay) for awhile, but now it is NOT doing much of anything. Mike

  3. Mike Marca says:

    This week I had a bad outbreak. The mites hit one area on my face real hard. It took two alcohol soakings for 20 minutes each and one rife therapy session to treat it effectively. I am doing fine now with no real outbreaks, and my face has no seen mite infections visible. I am continuing my normal routines (TTO, SnoSeal at night, garlic oil pills, artestatin pills once a day, and sulfur pills).

  4. mark says:

    I have heard that Zinc Pyrithione soap and Sulfur soap both work well on Rosacea.

  5. Nancy says:

    Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth used on a regular basis helps with mites. After using my face is so clear of the redness. I had one spot on eyelashes where a group of lashes fell out – I used DE on my eyelid (carefully) and then gently washed with Tea Tree oil shampoo. Lashes grew back. Trying the Selsun blue right. I use Finacea daily but insurance now won’t pay for this – darn.

  6. Sean says:

    I had a bad outbreak of rosacea and I was trying to find the best was to deal with it.. I noticed the outbreak was like a trail from my ears to the center of my face and going up my nose to my forehead… I did quite a lot of research about this and there was always this feeling of bugs on my skin but I never could see them and I eventually came to the belief mites were the culprit…. I started using palmolive dish detergent on my hair and face and within one month the rosacea went away… every summer I make sure to include this in my routine twice a week! at 2 dollars a bottle of palmolive antibacterial dish detergent what can you lose…??!! what works for me may not work for others but give it a try…

  7. Mike Marca says:

    I have tried it. Aside from my normal maintenance routine I also quit drinking and eating milk and milk by-products. I had to do this because I found out that I was allergic to it. The mites and rosacea seems to be at a very low level now! Perhaps, my resistance was to low to fight the mite infection due to my body fighting off what it thought was an invading organism (milk). Only time will tell. Mike

  8. Jody Brunner says:

    There was a comment that Diatomacious earth worked to rid demodex on face. Do you injest it? Do you dust your face with it ?dry, Make a paste? how long to leave on?
    They seem to flair up with sugar and alcohol consumption.

    Anyone taking any supplements that will help to kill them?

    What are you doing for the scaring on face?

  9. Mike Marca says:

    Rife therapy works for me, more than anything else. Mike

  10. Mike Marca says:

    Another treatment that works very very good is soaking the main areas 20 minutes with 91% alcohol. I normally do this after a rife therapy session. Mike

  11. Lisa says:

    I just started using a new product from Australia. They guarantee total elimination. I had a long talk with one of their staff and am feeling positive. Apparently using the products correctly (like all at night time when my mites are most active) is really important as product itself.

    Only used for a few days so far, but I can feel the mites reacting which if good I guess. Praying it works, but am postive with guarantee.

    They are called ungex… has anyne else tried? https://www.ungex.com/

    • Lisa says:


      Am nearly 1/2 way through treatment and my itching has nearly stopped, my skin flared up at first as the mites died off, but has now almost reduced to nothing.

      Had a stressful week last week at work and got a flare up, but less aggravated than usual..

      I am hopeful this is the solution for Demodex and will report back to yall with progress.

      • Della Sacks says:

        Lisa – It is a temporary fix and really expensive. We all have mites, but when the immune system is compromised they proliferate and are uncontrollable. Get your immune system back under control. When you do that, they will be automatically controlled by your body. I replied to Mike Mura below. My solution works and total cost is $10 for Nu-stock on amazon and $9 for Decitin at Target. Agreed it is messy so put a towel on your bed. It comes off in the wash. Good luck.

  12. Natalie says:

    Mixing 1 ounce tto with 15 ounces alcohol and mixing well, place in spray bottle and go to town. I had it all over. Using the green alcohol is okay as well. The alcohol evaporates and you are left with a light coating of tto. Do not spray in eyes. I have sprayed my face along with entire body after showering. Working good

  13. Rocky McAllister says:

    I am wondering if green tea facial cream and green tea hair rinse would be good for rosacea?

  14. Mike Marca says:

    Hello again. I found out that my antihistamines were giving me muscle pain (side effects) for over a year now. I stopped these antihistamines and went to a second generation antihistamine called Claritin (over the counter) which does not have this side effect. These medicines must have been taxing my autoimmune system, which in turn would in most people fight off invading organisms like these mites. I am using NOTHING now, no rife therapy, no alcohol soakings, no TTO, nothing! Occasionally I will have a mite or two annoy me, but that is it. It is a little too early now to say that I now have the victory over this mite infection, but it is nice. Mike

  15. Anita says:

    Hello Mike, When you did use the rife therapy – what frequencies worked for you? Did you use GB-4000 by chance? Anita.

  16. Baby Byba says:

    After applying several coats of tea tree oil to my face over 36 hours, I noticed for the first time tiny whitish dots appearing on the red spots of my cheeks and forehead, something was emerging from below the surface. I collected the exudates with the tip of a scalpel and smeared it onto a glass slide. Under the microscope, one low power field had fourteen creatures in it. Later on, with a fresh slide, two pairs of the creature with their youngin’ between them. Still later, a pair embraced in lovemaking, ’round midnight, clasping each other with all eight limbs, abdomens flared outward in a V profile. Now, I’m looking for the laying and the hatching.

    • Bingo says:

      MMmm Demodex porn, how sexy.

    • Alexis g says:

      I also noticed little white “dots” on my face after using ACV, full strength, when I first discovered I even had rosacea, now I have mine under better control. Anyone that says it’s not demodex mites is wrong. If you look really close you can see those nasty critters. Also chocolate is a real trigger for me, too bad.

    • Maria says:

      It’s strange that they were still alive after all these coats of tea tree oil.

      • Barb says:

        Tea tree doesnt work neither does ivermectin or permethrin or anything else have z look at stop the mite site and trichlosan pesticide 111 on ebay only things ever heard of to work

  17. Mike Marca says:

    I have the Volcano Zapper-V2 rife therapy machine. I bought it from E-bay. Since the instructions are only in Bulgarian I can only tell you a little bit of what is written in the instructions. I had to figure out everything on my own, especially in how to operate it. The three frequencies mentioned are 32 kHz, 30 kHz, and 2 kHz. If you buy the Volcano Zapper-V2 do not stop the operation once you start the process, or you will not go all the way through the frequencies. Also, do not touch the wands together when it is on. Mike

  18. Louise says:

    I am currently using kwellda-P 5% permethrin lotion nightly on face and scalp including eyebrows but avoiding the actual eyelash area. Have a prescription ointment for the eyes. The permethrin lotion does leave the nose area and some facial areas with temporary numbness for about 24 hours but I don’t mind as long as it gets rid of the issue. No prescription required for 5% permethrin cream or lotion.Can buy over counter. Ivermectin not available here. Fingers crossed this ends this problem….after 4 years of suffering

  19. Ivy Greene says:

    The thread on killing demodex faded out five and a half years ago. Anybody care to give an update? Has a surefire way of killing demodex been discovered and therefore no more demodex problems? I have an increasing problem with my eyelashes and what looks like rosacea on my neck. Just starting on the journey to find a way to eliminate demodex. If there is any news on the subject I would love to hear it.

    • Barb says:

      Have seen a post on 2 different ladies have cured themselves one with a product on ebay called trichlosan and the other has a web page called stopthemite by megan wells everyone else has control measures these two onlytwo in 14 yrs have seen actually cured . I have bern controlling my itching by carmax lip balm with lime in at the moment works a treat not curing it thou just maintaining the itch

    • Barb says:

      Apparrntly we are all doing the erong things to control it . Its actually collembola if you read stop the mite it all makes sense thats why moisture and showers aggravate it so much hope it helps when im financial enough im going to try her methods most are fairly inexpensive products some arent

    • Lisa says:

      Ungex.com provide guaranteed proven treatment for Demodex… I’m 2 months in and so far so good!

  20. Mike Marca says:

    Sauerkraut will boost your immune system! I just learned this out. It is our immune systems that are not keeping the mite infection down. I guess that the old timers new what was good after all. Mike

    • Batb says:

      Did you have a look at megan wells stop the mite site and trichlosan sounds the curenot just controlsim going to try it ive had thus 14 years i ll try anything and ive tried everything and ive bever heard anyone cured except these twp

      • Mel says:

        Important to boost your immune system to keep not population at bay. But if you already have to many mites you need to gray them first.
        These guys offer free consultations about demodex Ungex.com

    • j37 says:

      Hi Mike , i also start Sauerkraut and my mite goind done also , and y rosacea improve. I also think its our imune sistem is down .

      1. Bacterial overgrowth leads to

      2. Compromised immune system which

      3. Can’t fight off demodex mites

      4. And some kind of genetic sensitivity to them results in a rash on our face?

      Mike i will love to talk more to you to see what you are doing .

  21. Mike Marca says:

    Ungex is too expensive to try for me. If you try sauerkraut make sure you use unpasteurized sauerkraut (you can make it yourself). As I stated before I stopped using certain antihistamines that caused muscle pain as a side effect. This seemed to boost my immune system. The mite infection that I have now is not as extreme as it once was. If I do have a flare-up I use rife therapy and alcohol soakings to subdue the infection. I read that unpasteurized sauerkraut is the best of all foods that you can eat, because of the amount of probiotics that it makes. This good bacteria in turn increases your immune system, which can perhaps keep the mite infection down to normal levels. I hope so. That is why I am going to try it. Mike

  22. Mike Marca says:

    Make sure that the sauerkraut is “organic” with no preservatives added, and especially no pasteurization. I have started to use it and make it. Hopefully it will raise my immune system somewhat. Mike

    • j37 says:

      Hi Mike , i hope this rises your immune sistem. Yes the saurekraut that i buy is not pasteutize , but i think is not that good cause its fermented not for so long i think 5 days and at that stage some bacteria are in the top of that and not necessary the good ones like L plantarum

  23. Rob ludwig says:

    I havnt tried everything yet…i was close to laying in the bathtub full of bleach..gas.alcohol etc..But i got a plant fungicide ..Its a yellow powder in a plastic bottle..Its Sulfer.sulfer and sulfer..I put the powder in my ears and nose all over my body. It doesnt burn or hurt at all it doesnt even stink..It takes them out quick..I did about 3 applications a week.. Also another great way is Tumeric powder..you get at the asian market..Its used to make hot mustard..Just sprinkle some powder on you head and put on a beanie hat ..And overnight it kills everything..the adults and eggs etc..If you have big bumps all over your head …your scalp will be as smooth as a babys butt!! Tumeric works great but your head will burn a bit for a few hours..but its worth it

  24. Rob ludwig says:

    I wonder if the antibiotic Albendazole would work??

  25. Mike Marca says:

    My overall health seems a little better by eating the organic sauerkraut, but there is no noticeable change in the demodex situation. Mike

  26. Mike Marca says:

    I really didn’t notice any change in the condition that I now have with the other treatments that I do. But the health benefits from organic sauerkraut I believe cannot be underestimated. As I mentioned before that when I quit using certain antihistamines that have side effects of muscle pain my demodex infection has become much less extreme. I imagine that the medicines suppressed my immune system much more than normal. When the mites do become more aggressive then I use rife therapy and 91% alcohol soakings for 20 minutes to kill them. I also use SnoSeal at night in certain areas when I sleep to keep their activity down, and my Tea Tree oil mixture sometimes during the day. The maintenance that I do now works enough to make life bearable. I feel them bitting very little now throughout the day. Perhaps my asthma and allergies suppresses my immune system to a certain degree even without the addition of those medicines. I know that my allergies and asthma has increased as I became older as well as my Rosacea. This may be the reason why my body was not able to control the mites effectively when I got older. The mite infection kicked in about seven years ago. Mike

    • Della Sacks says:

      Hi Mike, It has been nearly two years since I had the mites and a year I think since we last corresponded. I am positive it is because of a compromised Immune System that we all have them. I have them completely under control now. I tried the sulfur pills and they help, but they add a redness to me complexion when I take them for a long period of time. I think I told you about the mixture of of Nu-stock cream for dog mange mixed 50/50 with Desitin diaper rash cream. It is the best solution so far. As soon as they start laying their eggs again, I use it every night for 3 days. It kills them and about every two weeks I do it agaiin. Then I do it once every 14 days to cntrol the eggs. I also did acupuncture for my immune system and skin. I was taking mushroom pills for my immune system. I stopped drinking soda, I also stopped all meds especially antibiotics. I do not drink tap water as it has clhorine and fluoride in it. I buy gallons of stream water. I keep to an organic diet and try to avoid gluten (not sure this helps mite problems, but good for health) I did not have an attack for nearly six months and I got lazy. Boom they cam back, mostly because of taking antibiotics for sinus infection. That was enough to attack the immune system. The first thing i did was the Nu-stock mixture and after the first night they were almost gone. Second bout killed they off and when i woke up the next day, my skin was really good. I have since been boosting the immune system with drinks recommended by Dr. Axe. Here is the link https://draxe.com/immune-system-boosters/ The best probiotic you can get which is the best booster is Lebne Kefir cheese which is a very thick yoghurt. I eat it every day. He gives some recipes for drinks which taste fine. I add two tsp kefir cheese to the drinks. I have it completely under control again but I search my face for any signs every day. There is no cure, at least not so far, but you can control it – and that is key. I will say that I do not have any problems in any other part of the body, only on the face. My dermatologist agrees with everything I am doing and even recommends it to other patients. This mixture really leaves the skin soft and fresh. The acupuncture is for inflammation. Concentrate on restoring your immune system. My husband has allergies but has started taking oregano oil in orange juice each morning. I take it also. It helps. Try to get off all meds and watch your diet. The mixture actually took away a lot of the rosacea. The mites love the compromised skin. Personally i think rosacea appears but if you have mites, that is where they go. Try it Mike, it works. If you keep using the alcohol, your skin will deteriorate and get old. Good luck.

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