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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1,999 Reader Comments

  1. Della says:

    I did not have hair loss but my hair is so thick I would not notice. Ivermectin kills the mites but in doing that, maybe hair loss will stop and new hair grow. My husband uses Nioxin treatment shampoo and conditioner also scalp treatment and his hair does not fall out anymore. I buy it on Amazon.

  2. Rachel says:

    I have found a topical combination benzyl benzoate, sulfur, hydrogen peroxide + borax, And Neem oil to do the trick in killing demodex outbreaks. I’ve had to real breakouts/flareups in my life and they were all after taking antibiotics for some other non related infection.

    The Neem oil factor is one I don’t often see published about for demodex – but it IS a Homeopathic “non toxic” pesticide made from Neem leaf that you will often find as the main ingredient for “natural” bed bug/might sprays and for home and gardening. It smells like pure gasoline but seems to work as a repellent rather than cure to kill – I apply the “killers” like sulfur, benzyl benzoate first and apply a Neem lotion on last to prevention reinfestation.

    I also use glycolic or salicic acid astringent once a day in the am after treatment to slough off the dead skin and mites before reapplying my regime.

    Also change my pillow case daily during treatment – I have not found the need to do treat all linens or “quarantine” any other fabric during an outbreak like they say to do with scabies (unless the fabrics have touched my face)….

  3. Joanna says:

    I use Castile soap, sulfur soap, tea tree oil soap – these are for cleaning. . I usually wash with Castile soap first and then follow with one of the other soaps. Then wipe face with 100% tea tree oil. I know, they say not to do that but for me it is working.

    If problems start to develop I follow cleaning with a benzoyl peroxide cream or Prosacea, a product containing sulfur.

    A lot of these products are drying, to say the least. and the best facial cream I have found which does not cause problems is Mother of All Creams by Puriya.

    I seldom use the same routine but so far having excellent results. Perfect – No, but I am very pleased with results. The improvement in my skin is truly great. At 73 I have finally stopped having breakouts that make my skin look like it belongs to a teenager with a bad case of acne. Good luck to everyone. All I can say is try your own system with these products and see if works for you.

  4. Margaret Waite says:

    Peg I have tried many things from Head & Shoulders and iodine scrub to bactine and Blephadex Wipes. When my face gets to feeling dry and uncomfortable I break a capsule of vitamin A and try to drown the little critters in it. Then my face feels much betters. I am trying to do a very strict regimen for three weeks.

  5. Dawn says:

    Please can. Somebody help me i suffer with rosacea and I’ve been seeing a dermatologist for 14 months i have a sevear case of dermodex mites all over my body I’ve been given scabie cream and shampoo 3 different antihistamines aqueous cream seems cream i need help so bad i would rather not be hear anymoe its that bad I’m coughing cause there coming out of my mouth hospital thinks its all in my head i wish it was please help me

    • JIMR says:

      Dawn, look at the older comments I and others posted on the use of ( Horse paste ) Ivermectin orally, and a few other things but for us the Ivermectin worked. I had the mites really bad and nothing worked until I tried the horse paste. You can get the Ivermectin by script now but it is very expensive and a tube of the horse paste is only $7 and gives you enough doses to kill of the mites and any new eggs hatching. My face is the best it has been in 8 years. I don’t think I will keep the mites from coming back but the Ivermectin and a few other things like TTO, Butt Paste, and a few other things mixed together ( in the other post ) keep my face clean from pustules. Look for JimR, and Della for our results. wish you well.

    • JIMR says:

      Dawn, look at the older comments ( the blue tab at the top left of these comments ) I and others posted on the use of ( Horse paste ) Ivermectin orally, and a few other things but for us the Ivermectin worked. I had the mites really bad and nothing worked until I tried the horse paste. You can get the Ivermectin by script now but it is very expensive and a tube of the horse paste is only $7 and gives you enough doses to kill of the mites and any new eggs hatching. My face is the best it has been in 8 years. I don’t think I will keep the mites from coming back but the Ivermectin and a few other things like TTO, Butt Paste, and a few other things mixed together ( in the other post ) keep my face clean from pustules. Look for JimR, and Della for our results. wish you well.

    • Douglas says:

      Dawn,
      The horse paste they refer to called Nu-Stock and is available on Amazon for $13. You need to thin it with olive oil about 50% and cover your whole body with it before bed-time including the scalp and inside the ears. Careful around the eyes. Dilute a little more with olive oil around the eyes. They will burn in the morning so use a cold wet cloth compress to irrigate the eyes. Shower if needed or leave on. Re-apply next evening and do this for 5 days. take a day or two break and do the whole thing again.

      You have to kill the eggs that are off your body and linger in the clothes bedding etc. Read about the Demodex lifecycle and act accordingly…no need for me to reiterate. Use frequent dryer cycles on dry blankets instead of frequent washing for the same effect. Heat will kill the eggs. Cover regularly-used chairs with blankets or sheets and dry-cycle everyday for 35 minutes on high heat.

      Once you understand the life-cycle you can kill them with Nu-stock (which is a sulfur based cream) and Tea-Tree oil soaps and shampoo.. Use 91% rubbing alcohol to wipe face and around ears. Use peroxide in the ears twice a day (15 min in each ear). Then wipe ears with alcohol. For me they used the ears and nose for their sanctuary. Often accompanied by a Rhino fungus they can live in the nasal cavity. Change sheets/pillows 2-3 times a week as well as clothes.

      It’s beatable. Anyone can contact me if you need help at douglas415@hotmail.com

    • Dawn, please try the Tea tree oil products, I have a shampoo, face wash and cream I use and it has the little buggers under control, for now.

  6. Mike Marca says:

    The horse paste did not work for me, but it may work for you. What works for me is “Pro-Tech-Skin” (can get it on Ebay). Also if there is an outbreak that is hard to control with the Pro-Tech-Skin I will use alcohol (91%) soakings for 20 minutes and rife therapy (ultrasound). Mike

  7. Mike Marca says:

    There is something else you can do if you do not have a rife therapy machine. Just use a 9 volt battery instead by itself. First wet the area on your face that is giving you trouble, and then touch the area with the positive and negative posts of the 9 volt battery. Afterwards, use 91% alcohol for 20 minutes on the area. You probably will not like it much, but they (the demodex mites) will definitely not like it even a lot more. I am sure that it kills them. If not it will probably destroy their eggs, and make them wanting to move. I do this every now and them. Just electrocute the suckers!!!

  8. Carolyn says:

    I just discovered – on my own, I might add – beyond any shadow of a doubt that I have an infestation of these Mites in my hair, eyebrows, eye lashes and on my body. I am trying not to freak out as I gather info on-line trying to come up with the best plan to rid myself, my pets (they don’t show any signs of having) and my bedding and clothes – probably my husband too. There are so many recommendations and protocols that I am overwhelmed. I have lost a significant amount of hair over the past year which started me on this horrendous discovery. To anyone who has lost hair, does it regrow??

  9. Mike Marca says:

    Hello Carolyn. Welcome to the club. Don’t worry about giving your husband the mites. He already has them, almost everyone does. The only difference between you and your husband is that your immune system does not subdue the demodex mites as does your husband. Don’t worry about bedding. They do not live long after they fall off of you. Also, you cannot get rid of them, but you can live with them like everyone else does. Maintenance is the key of making these mites behave, since you will not be able to destroy all of them. Right now my face looks perfectly normal even with the rosacea and mites, and I rarely feel them. That is because I do what I explained above on this site. Your immune system has changed somehow and that is the reason why you are experiencing what you are experiencing now. Most people who have this condition also have rosacea but not always. 95% of the human population has these mites on their bodies right now, even though they do not know it. Your immune system is not fighting them or subduing them like they are. I really have no real problems now doing what I am doing and living with them. Sorry, that you are like us, but it is something that you can control. Mike

    • annerainbow says:

      Great responses and advice as ever Mike! Really appreciate your feedback and wisdome

    • Carolyn Ladd says:

      Hi Mike,
      Thank you so much for your response! Sorry I did get back sooner – I feel somewhat frozen. I am trying to read everything about the Mites and what works and doesn’t work and there just isn’t enough time in the day. I wish there was a one protocol fits all but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I’ll be happy to just get these guys under control and out of my scalp. Like I said earlier, my hair loss is devastating and I am so afraid it won’t grow back. I do appreciate your wisdom and look forward to more if your helpful posts.
      Best,
      Carolyn

  10. Mike Marca says:

    My advice to you is to take Ivermectin or the horse medicine to get the mites under control first. The first time I took Ivermectin (“Stromectol” Rx for humans in the US) it almost completely killed all of the demodex mites, but later times of taking it proved lacking at best. After knocking down the mites start a maintenance program that will work for you. You see what I do above on this site. If you wait too long doing a maintenance program that works, after knocking them down, you may end up with an outbreak that is hard to put down. Good luck. You have a lot of good people on this site to help you. Mike

  11. Vladimir says:

    Chang Sheng Herbal Rejuvenating Beauty Soap

  12. Vladimir says:

    Guys, this soap cured my rosecea and outbreaks from mites. You need to use it 2 month to see resoult. I still have mites, but my face clear. You can check it on Amazon. Chang Sheng Herbal Rejuvenating Beauty Soap

  13. Mike Marca says:

    Vladimir, I am glad that it worked for you, but I know it will not work for me. Mike

  14. Mike Marca says:

    Vladimir, the reason why I said that it will not work with me is because after many years I have a good idea about what does work for me. Topical or surface ointments may help just a little for me. A TTO mixture of 50% does work for areas other than my face. Soap mixtures never worked for me. Remember that there are two types of demodex mites. You may have one and I on the other hand may have the other, and there may be many other variables between us. This is one area science is not good at. There is one topical ointment that works for me on my face and that is Pro-Tech-Skin. I believe that makes the mites unable to move around freely, and it may even suffocate them somewhat. Right now all that I am using is Pro-Tech-Skin and the 9 volt battery. If I feel some activity I use the 9 volt battery after wetting the area first. It seems to be killing them or at least to the degree of keeping them subdued. If perhaps someday I happen to have a new breakout again I will use alcohol soakings for 20 minutes and rife therapy. That will knock them out for awhile. Even if I do kill them off completely it won’t be long before I hug someone and receive them again, especially with my wife. Her immune system fights them off to where she does not even know that she has them, but I know that she does, almost everyone does. I though do not have the luxury of have a good immune system to keep them way down. Oh, I am also experimenting with a Chinese tonic that is really rejuvenating and affects the blood. Maybe this is why I can get along with only the Pro-Tech-Skin and the 9 volt battery right now? It is a very good medicine that I take daily, and it has nine different roots and herbs. Mike

  15. Vladimir says:

    Della, JIMR, do you have news?

  16. JFlk says:

    Corona Ointment from Amazon or a livestock feedstore has worked in two days of applying it to face all day. Have tried every single suggestion for the last year and a half. Some help for a time but then seems get worse at times. A spray bottle with 70% rubbing alcohol next to me in bed and all day to spray directly on scalp, ears, arms, back or face, go to bed with Corona Ointment on face and neck and chest or wherever. Took all the redness out of big open patches and healed within two days. These mites are layers deep in skin so anything you treat with has to be done consistently all day for months and months possibly forever to keep the population down. Humid environment, sweat,etc can help increase mite population. Also put horse ivermectin paste on skin and roll with microneedle roller you can get on ebay for $4.00 helps to get deeper into hair follicles and also helps skin heal and regenerate. Also everyday several times I spray and rub in HypoChlor Spray from Ocusoft or Briotech Spray on eyelashes and eye area and brows and face Its what the eye doctors prescribe for eyelash mites which is Demodex folliculorum that live in hair follicles, the demodex brevis are the tinier mites that live deep in your sebaceous glands. The reason these spots on your face that look like rosacea or acne hurt at times is because of the actual mites under the skin. Once you remove them you have immediate relief of that area, Alive or dead under there they keep the area irritated and red and sore. When you treat an area you can feel a pinching, moving when the mites try to get away from ointment under the skin. The doctors do not understand this or how many mites per hair follicle or sebaceous gland are there. They say there can be 5-25 mites per hair follicle all over you. You cannot kill the eggs or tiny nymph stage so have to wait until they have grown and surface mostly at night but treat ALL DAY and change pillow case every night. Nustock is great as well but Corona is surprisingly working even better and I keep applying it all day. Hypochlorous acid which is in the eye spray is said to kill the nymph stage (Vetricyn spray is another good spray for body and face and has hypochlorous acid which was discovered in WWI for treating wounds) Very harmless to us can spray in eyes or mouth. Our dog had demodex when he got cancer we didnt know about and we got soon after and it has been a nightmare. Spray Martin’s permethrin on carpets, couches, mattresses, shoes, dog beds and keep spray the dogs with Vetricyn, use Nustock, or Corona, and I spray pillow case and sheets with alcohol spray also and hair brushes and make up brushes. Use the HypoChlor or Briotech or Vetricyn and Corona all day, and alcohol spray on scalp. Your hair will grow back, eyebrows will grow back with constant treatment of the areas. When you pull an eyebrow hair out you will see a whitish/clear thing on end of hair that is the mite. On face you will see white longer mites that are full grown that are stretchy or rubbery if you can pull them off or tiny white specks of what look like salt which are also the mite. Most mites you cannot see though.The broken out areas and patches that wont heal on your face have mites all in the white ridges around the area and many layers down. You cannot see all the stages and some just look like dead skin but once you start treating your face you will consistently see these white specks appear and surface sometimes. They come out mostly in the dark and will feel a tiny tickle on skin feels like a hair so spray face or wherever every time you feel this. Hopefully this helps someone. They say everyone has Demodex mites on their skin but they get out of control and overpopulate due to low immunity or aging. The doctors seem to have no clue how many people are affected by this and veterinarians also misdiagnose this thinking its a food allergy or skin allergy when it is actually mites and prescribe all of these antibiotics and medications that do not help this and only make people and animals systems weaker and cause more problems.

    • Vladimir says:

      Could, you tell more aboute eyebrows? Did you grow them back?

      • JFlk says:

        Yes they got extremely thin and when I started treating everyday with HypoChlor a few times a day and keep Corona Ointment or even Ivermectin paste or Safeguard Paste for horses on them they grew back in. I also swipe rubbing alcohol a few times a day and make sure to sleep with a thick layer of Corona Ointment on lids and brows and all over face. This keeps them from coming out and mating to lay more eggs. There are a few spots where they seem to be concentrated that stayed thinner but definitely most of them grew back in as well as my hairline at my forehead, a patch had thinned out getting bald looking and that has grown back in also. You have to treat all day and especially at night. And treat your whole face and neck even when it seems cleared. Even when I thought it had cleared I still could pull out an eyebrow hair and see a mite so just don’t stop treating. Its the upkeep that keeps their numbers down as I;don’t think you can be completely rid of them.

  17. JFlk says:

    Another thing you will notice once you start using all of these things, ivermectin paste, Corona ointment, rubbing alcohol, HypoChlor or Vetricyn, Nustock constantly thoughout the day everyday and at night to kill these mites (and everyone else’s good advice on here) is that small brown spots on skin that look like freckles or sunspots will go away, some deep lines around mouth skin will go away, a skin eruption area that has been there for months and always seems to come back in same spot will clear, some bald spots or what looks like receding hairline or bald spots in brows will grow back in. The advice in this comment section is the best that I have seen on the internet. Everyone on here has a good solution and understands how these mites take over. Sometimes it will seem that you have finally gotten rid of them only to have a huge outbreak a few months later. This is because they live so deep in our sebaceous glands and hair follicles that you cannot completely stop them. Don’t share towels, pillows, brushes (spray alcohol on brush everyday to kill any on there) etc.

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