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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2,274 Reader Comments

  1. LF says:

    Suzana, do you have ane news?

  2. Mike Marca says:

    Hello. I have good news! It has been over two weeks since I had to use the 9 volt battery. The only thing I am using right now is the pure lanolin at night and the Pro-Tech-Skin during the day on the main areas there the mites usually gather together (eyebrows and below my nose). The mites do not like the lanolin (ebay), and it is cheep to buy! I haven’t had an outbreak for quite a while, but if their activity does increase I will use the 9 volt battery or what ever I have to do. I also scrape the scale they leave behind on my eyebrows once a day. I have very little activity! Mike

  3. Mike Marca says:

    Also, perhaps, I have killed so many mites that their numbers are way down now, and my immune system with the lanolin is now keeping them down. I do believe that if I quit everything that their numbers will return. I can use the reprieve! Mike

  4. K Goodwin says:

    I have been able to keep the demodex mites at bay for quite a while, now. BUT, we need to eradicate them…plain and simple. I have had them for over 2 1/2 YEARS. I have been unable to sleep on a bed for that long, as well, because they just LOVE warmth. I sleep sitting up every single night in a chair, which is having an effect on my spine. So, at this point, I am so sick and tired of this crap.
    My so-called doctor has, over this time, given me at least 17 prescriptions of ivermectin and permethrin; needless to say, the prescriptions did NOTHING for me, and she couldn’t care less. One time, when I went to get a prescription filled, the pharmacist told me to take cold showers, which made total sense. Do you think my own doctor told me to do that?
    I don’t want to just “keep them at bay”, I want to KILL them, which HAS to be done from the inside out. Otherwise they will be so content in staying and multiplying in our bodies…for the rest our lives…seriously.

    • ohbaby says:

      I suffered from this demodex infestation for two years. Tried the usual treatments, Tea tree oil, borax, you name it. They helped, but these are only temporary solutions. The reason we suffer from this infestation, is due to our weakened immune system. This is the consensus of the scientific community and I agree. So while using the usual remedies, I did my best to boost my immunity with various antioxidants plus vitamins and minerals. And while I was adding all these supplemental nutrients I saw no improvement in my condition. That was until I added CoQ10. I was never under the impression, two years into dealing with this awful condition, that I would possibly come across a magic pill. But that was exactly what CoQ10 was for me. After the first night, taking one 100mg capsule, the results were stunning. At least 50% relief from the prior night. And in short order after that first night, I no longer suffered from this infestation. Boost your immune system. Everyone has these mites. There is a reason they don’t bother everyone. And that is our immunity. CoQ10 worked for me. I was obviously deficient in this nutrient. You might be deficient in some other critical nutrient. Time to work on the cause instead of the symptoms.

      Good Luck,

  5. Mike Marca says:

    Hello Goodwin. Cold showers will not help you. I think she is a quack! I use the 9 volt battery to kill them and a sticky substance to keep their activity down. I sleep well at night now by using lanolin before I sleep. If I go somewhere I use Pro-Tech-Skin to keep their activity down, and it is not as sticky. Even nature will use sticky substances to keep off insects like the inside of your ears and the sap on the pine tree. Mike

  6. Mike Marca says:

    Hello again Goodwin. By looking over your entry I perceive you still have an acute mite infection. What I do if one pops up is use rife therapy and afterwards 91% alcohol soakings for 18 minutes on each infected area. I keep this up until the infection is over. Then there is only maintenance on a daily routine using the 9 volt battery when I feel them, and lanolin at night with Pro-Tech-Skin during the day. The lanolin keeps the mites from biting during the night, and I sleep well. Also, you mentioned eradicating them. Unless your immune system returns back to where it was before you had mite problems that is impossible. Maintenance is the best you can do. My wife sleeps next to me, and she does not have to worry about getting a mite infection. Her immune system is good. I know that these mites are a royal pain in the ass, and no one understands our plight including the so called professionals. Needless to say we must live in our bodies and do the best that we can do to get near to normalcy. It could be worse. We could have a cancer diagnosis to fight. At the present time I do not have a mite infection, and I have my maintenance program. Yes, I do feel them at times, but very little now. That is all that I can tell you. Did you try praying to Jesus? Mike

  7. LF says:

    Mike and everyone, i have great news. You should try 9v battery with salt water (3 teaspoons to
    200 ml of water) it help to penetrate voltage in our skin. And provide better results!

  8. Mike Marca says:

    Ok. Mike

  9. Mike Marca says:

    Good news! I tried the 9 volt battery with a “salt water mixture” applied first on an area where nothing else works, an area where I would use rife therapy and alcohol soakings to kill the start of a mite infection. It works! It is a little extreme, but so are the mites. They all died! Looks like all that one needs to fight the mites is a 9 volt battery and a waxy topical like Pro-Tech-Skin or Lanolin. A salt water mixture is a good conductor of electricity. My skin is still without any notice of mites or Rosacea. Mike

  10. LF says:

    Mike, could you tell me more about Boric Acid for eyes? Do you still use it? And how many times a day should i use it?

  11. Mike Marca says:

    Yes. It is my mother’s old treatment for eye problems. Mites don’t like it either. It is 1 tsp. Boric Acid added to 4 oz. of water. Boil the mixture, and let it cool. Then add it to the eyes. That is “Boric.” It is not Borax like someone else thought once prier. I no longer have them in my eyes. You must have a full blown mite infection going on. Mike

  12. Mike Marca says:

    No. My mite levels are very low now. You need to get your levels down. A rife machine may help. If you do not use a rife machine use the 9 volt battery. Also, do 91% rubbing alcohol soakings for 20 minutes on each aggressive area. Then apply lanolin or Pro-Tech-Skin to keep their activity down. Keep doing these things until the mite levels are down. Then maintenance sets in. This is what I did, and it worked for me. Mike

  13. LF says:

    Mike, how many times a day, should i use Boric acid? And how many drops to each eye?

  14. LF says:

    And how long did it take to not have them in eyes? 1 month 2 month?

  15. Mike Marca says:

    Hello, LF. I used the Boric Acid mixture until the mite infection subsided, for once or twice a day when I had mites in my eyes. Also, it is a “level teaspoon” of Boric Acid to 4 oz. of water. Mike

  16. Shane says:

    This is gross, but it’s the realty and they’re there right on our faces. I also appreciate all the suggestions here. Thanks!

  17. Mike Marca says:

    I found out something else that works very well in keeping the mites off of your face. First put on Pro-Tech-skin, and then apply Snow-Seal on top. At first I did this because Pro-Tech-Skin is made of safe products for the skin, while Snow-Seal is made of petroleum products and beeswax. I wanted the better skin product on the skin while using the better working product to also repel the mites. For a topical ointment it is the best I have ever used to date, doing it this way together. You can buy both products on e-bay. Mike

  18. SK says:

    Hi Mike, I just wondered…if you have the mites living in your skin do you not have to get rid of them from face before putting on the pro-tech cream? Also regarding boric acid wash do you just bathe your eyes with cotton wool dipped in the wash or do you put you head back and pour the wash on your eyes? thanks S

  19. SK says:

    I have them on my body, I can feel them crawling, occasionally they bite. I have them on my eyelids and scalp and face too. I have had hair loss for 9 or 10 years and looking for a cure for that led me to finding our about demodex mites as they are connected to hair loss. I use a castile soap with tea tree and add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to it to shower with twice a day. I put on coconut oil or sometimes olive oil mixed with rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree oil on skin, face and scalp. Sometimes I get a good night’s sleep, other times I can feel them itching my skin still. At the moment I am washing my bed linen every day in 60 degree wash and got a new pillow. I had to stop using mascara as I read that you keep reinfecting your eyelashes with it. It’s so exhausting. Mike can you tell me what is a rife machine and where can you buy one? I don’t know if you can ever get rid of these creatures as they live on human skin so unless you stop all contact with humans once you are free of them, how can you prevent getting re-infected?

  20. SK says:

    The attached link tell you a way to remove mites from your scalp.
    There is a second video on maintenance. I think it sounds good.
    I have to say I don’t endorse or agree with yoga or other new age practices the guy (Dr. Robert Cassar) mentions but it’s worth looking at his tips on diet, removing parasites and mites.

  21. Mike Marca says:

    Hello SK. We do not wash the bedding every day. My wife does not get a mite infection from my mites. Her immune system fights them off to where she does not even feel them. The eyewash solution that I gave (my mother’s old eye formula) you goes right into the eyes, either with an eye drop or by a eye wash cup. I still use a rife machine at times when the mites mite harder than usual. It uses a high frequency electronic wave (actually 3 different waves). It uses two electrodes to disperse the electricity through your body (the area where the problem is). It is not used very much in this country, but many other countries are using rife therapy. The high pitch electricity either disrupts or kills the mites. I believe that it kills the eggs. I bought my machine on e-bay. My machine is the “Volcano Zapper-V2.” If you buy this machine the instructions are in the Ukranian language. I had to figure out how to operate it without the instructions. I can tell you how to use it if you do buy one. I think it cost around $150 US dollars. Sometimes it is all that I need to use, and there are other times where I need something with it to take care of the mites completely. I still have them biting at times, but usually now from what I am doing I can go almost the whole day without much problems with them. Mike

    • SK says:

      Thanks Mike, I live in Ireland. Do you think it’s possible to ever get rid of these mites? I notice in my temp job when I accidentally hit the back of my chair a lot of white things came out of it onto the seat. I got the hoover from the cleaners to hoover them up. I read that you will keep re-infecting yourself through your office chair or your car seat. Yesterday I bought neem oil and neem powder from an Asian shop. I took some powder in a little herbal tea as it tastes so gross, I applied the neem oil mixed with coconut oil and some essential oils (tea tree, lavender) to face, body and scalp as much as possible, Then I had a hot bath and massaged some almond oil with drops of tea tree and lavender into my skin. I could see little white long things on my hands when I rubbed the oil on. I had a pretty good sleep. This morning I showered with tea tree castile soap and then rubbed on sweet almond oil with tt and lavender. Today at work my legs were so itchy, my waist is itchy and under my nose. I couldn’t find boric acid anywhere yesterday so just did an eye wash with tea tree and water. Today I had far less itch in my eyes. I’m still washing every item I wear and bedding, (bedding at 60 degrees but clothing at 30 as it might shrink). I don’t know whether to get pest control in again as I did 3 years ago…..it did help but they use a lot of chemicals which affect your immune system I’m sure.

  22. SK says:

    I will have to look into the rife machine.

  23. Mike Marca says:

    Hello again SK. You cannot see demodex mites! They are microscopic, and must be seen with a microscope. If you can see them, then they are not demodex mites. The rife machine though can also be used on other parisites. Mike

  24. Mike Marca says:

    Also SK, Ivermectin (Rx given from a doctor’s prescription) will generally work well with other parisites. Go to a medical doctor and ask him for this prescription. Mike

  25. SK says:

    Thanks Mike, at this stage I have been to 2 doctors and a dermatologist and they all say it’s not mites. I brought one doctor samples on sellotape and they were tiny brown/ white things about 1mm in size and she said “they don’t look like insects, buy a magnifying glass and bring it next time you come here”!!! I am so fed up of being told it’s not mites when I can feel itch and find a tiny thing on my skin when I put my finger on the itch spot. I think I have demodex also as I get biting in my skin at times. I would like to ask for invermectin but I think they just think you are delusional.

  26. Debbie says:

    I’m using thera tears, SteriLid eyelid cleanser. It’s a pump foam which I put on my eyes and rub around my eyelashes, eyebrows and on my skin that has rosacea. I’ve noticed a big difference. I use it every night and wash my sheets and pillow cases in hot water once a week. They recon do this for 2 mths and the mites should be wiped out for good. Here’s hoping.

  27. Mike Marca says:

    Some people use the horse ivermectin that they sell on ebay.

  28. Kenneth Baker says:

    I use Chang Sheng soap. Apply in the morning and at night. Leave the lather on for 2 or 3 minutes and rinse off. The soap can dry the skin especially for the first month of use, but you can use a lotion. I dont use a lotion before bed because I want the mites to feed on the soap residue when I sleep. Works for me and others I told about. You can buy on Amazon for about 15 dollars a soap. Dont leave it in the shower area as the soap will disintegrate too fast. One bar lasts 6 weeks. No promises but worked for me and i had very bad rosacea.

  29. Mike Marca says:

    Nothing topical has made any major difference for me when it comes to demodex mites.

    • kenneth baker says:

      Rosacea could be caused by a number of allergic reactions. But there is little doubt that it is caused by a inflammation from some type of irritant. Chang Shen soap is formulated to kill demodex mites. and has eliminated 90 percent of my redness. Cant say it will help you but it couldn’t hurt to try at 15 bucks. If it does help you should see a big difference in two weeks. Good luck. Always looking out for anything that helps.

  30. Mike Marca says:

    Except for sticking them down in order to keep them inactive when I sleep

  31. Sara says:

    I just use a baby wipe in the am and them alcohol on a cotton ball and leave on face for 5 mins wash with Freemans facewash/face mask. Then put real tea tree oil and caster oil on my eyebrows, hairline,and face. It does the trick. I hope this helps.

  32. Mike Marca says:

    Boy, do I have the answer now to demodex !!! Only two inexpensive items are used now for me. I have been doing this for about one month now, and it works great! I do the 9 volt battery thing when I feel them digging, but this is rare now. On the average, I do the 9 volt battery thing only about once every three days now. The main thing that I do is apply “Snow-Seal” to the major areas before I go to bed and before I go out somewhere. Once in a while I will apply it otherwise. This is all that I do now, and my face is clear! Nothing else works as good as Snow-Seal. It is made of beeswax and some petroleum by-products. I know that it was made for leather products, but I have been using it for so long and with no side effects as of yet! I feel normal again. If I quit doing what I am doing I know the demodex will come back as strong as ever. Mike

    • LF says:

      That is great!) Mike, do you still losing your eyebrows?

    • Coco T says:

      I started to doubt you don’t have dermodex. I spent days reading all everyone’s posts on this thread. It seems like you have been trying to many different ways. Every time you say something works for you and mites are in control but soon you will post that you tried something new and the new methods are good and somewhat working which kept the mites in the bay.

      I can recall you used TTO mix with Best Yet, and other oils you switched out, mineral oil in replace with Best Yet. Trying out the mustard powder, sulphur supplements, zz cream, zapper machine, 91% alcohol, Artestatin, pretty much majority methods mentioned by other ppl in this thread and some of your own. Nothing seemed truly worked for you.

      Have you ever see the mites under microscope? There are so many affordable ones available online. Maybe you should get one and do a diagnose yourself. There is way to get the mites easily. Put a scotch tape on the area where you feel the most mites are in the night before you go to sleep. Take it out and mix it with the solution and observe it underneath the microscope. You could be having something else.

  33. Bebe says:

    Is use of the 9 volt battery , supposed to hurt or shock you , to the point it makes you, afraid to use it ?

  34. Mike Marca says:

    Yes, I have seen demodex under a microscope, and I have been told by a doctor that I have Rosacea. I have tried a lot of things because a lot of things did not work for me. I have them under control now. That is all that I care for. Mike

  35. hmm says:

    hmm been fightin some thing for 2 years my docters keep ling to me thay keep giving me sterods creams sterorid tablets put a tishoo on my vacume this moing and did the bed as I was under attak all knigh and put it under mu micrope and saw lods of thin moveing around at 10x coud not see any difind things at 40x so icarnt identaf them I thin it is dormex it on my face and all over my body when I hade ivermecton I come good for two weaks and it comes back then a nothe docter made a stamen that the rash sors sood not afet my life and we can live normal lives I hate him so much he give up on us I got it my wife got it and my sone got it this is not normal every does not have it that is bs because we all got it 2 years a ago at the same time

  36. Mike Mariani says:

    Hello Hmm. I see that Ivermectin only worked for you only one time. That is what exactly happened to me. The mites adapted to it. When I have an outbreak of mites I generally start out using 91% alcohol on a rolled up piece of paper towel, and soak the area for 17 minutes. Then I will use either the 9 volt battery or rife therapy. After that I will apply either Lanolin, Sno-Seal, or Pro-Tech-Skin. The Lanolin seems to work better. They are sticky substances that tend to keep the mites from moving and reproducing. I always apply one of the sticky substances before I go to bed, to get a good nights sleep. You may want to try my way of doing things just to see if it works for you. You will probably have them for life. So the best way to manage them is by maintenance. Mike

  37. Bebe Bess says:

    Mike, does the use of the 9 volt battery, hurt to the point that it makes you afraid or apprehensive to use it again ? On some areas of contact with the battery, the shock or electrical “zap” is so severe, that I can’t leave battery in place and hesitate to use it again! I wondered if I was using it incorrectly!


  38. Mike Marca says:

    Hello Bebe. Yes, it hurts. It usually hurts if there are mites. If it does not hurt then there are no mites there to dig into you when they are hurting or dieing. I know that it sounds really bad to do, but it works for me. The other alternative to the 9 volt battery is rife therapy, something not practiced in the US. What I said above is what works for me. It took me many years on my own to find this out. The doctors were no help to me. Mike

    • Bebe Bess says:

      Thanks Mike, I was wondering, just unable to hold battery on spot that hurts , without jerking it away! Will keep trying, now that I have that info ! ( I suppose you keep doing it until it doesn’t hurt… then you know you’ve killed the mite!) Right?
      Thanks, Bebe

  39. Mike Marca says:

    Also, I forgot to mention that there is one more thing that I do right now. Once a day I remove the scale that the mites make on my eyebrows. I use plumbers cloth. It is an abrasive cloth used for cleaning pipe before soldering it. You may find a better way of doing it. If you do not remove this scale they will hide under it and be almost untouchable, and reproduce there in numbers. Mike

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