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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2,081 Reader Comments

  1. Mike Marca says:

    The 9 volt battery is still working!!!

    • Bill Darnell says:

      Mike, my wife and I have mites. We feel crawling and biting on our face, body daily since Sept 2017. We’ve tried tea tree oil, been to 3 different dermatologist, we can’t get rid of them. Can you please explain how does a 9v battery works? Thanks for your time Bill

      • Douglas says:

        Try Nu-stock but make sure you read up on how to kill all the stages of the life cycles. I used it for 5 days then off 3 then 5 more. Then I waited a week and did another 5 days. They were ll infested in my ears and nasal cavity and mostly gone now.
        ~ Good luck!

  2. Mike Marca says:

    Since bringing the population of these mites way down my Rosacea is now almost non-existent. Mike

  3. JIMR says:

    Anyone looking on here for help click on the “Older Comments” left side of these post there are lots of good help that will help you get rid of these mites!!

    • alej says:

      Replied to your Jan 22 update.

      do you just get pustules or also have redness? and does you getting back the pustules mean using this paste last about 1 year until its needed again?
      and do you have pustules only or also papules?
      i have an occasional very small white looking bump but my biggest issue is the persistent redness and these red spots/bumps around my cheeks. they seem like they are under my skin and dont feel like bumps. i do have a few that feel bumpy.
      anyway i got my horse paste but im scared to take it lol
      im trying to figure out when to do it. did you take it orally without anything? is the taste awful? i was thinking of getting some gel capsules and putting it in there.
      i will also use the soolantra topically and hope this combo helps.

      did you just have pustules or do you also have redness? and if you did have redness any improve in that with the oral paste?

      again thanks for updates and replies JIMR

      • JIMR says:

        Alej, I had mostly pustules but would have red flushing if I drank any alcohol or spicey food which was bad out in public peoplel would ask me what was up with my face. That does not happen now so not sure why mite infestation would react to alcohol. I just completed another round of the Ivermectin and my face is clear. Some people just put the horse paste in a lump of bread and swallow, I used gel caps, but some of the horse paste tubes do not have small enough opening to squirt it into the gel caps. If you read in the older post I posted some medical research on the use and dosing of the oral Ivermectin.

        I don’t think we can get rid of them forever, the mites will come back everyone has them people like us just have a skin reaction when they die in our pores. Right now after I took about 6 doses spread 4 days apart I have 2 little pustules that are healing. If you read my older post from last year when I first took Ivermectin my face, neck and even chest broke out in pustules. As I noted then my pores shrank and my skin felt complexity different and the black head on my nose disappeared.

        Just give yourself a little more on the weight scale of the Ivermectin tube and if you face breaks out a little more the next day then you know it is working.

        And like anything we take orally you may have a reaction to it. But using Solantra which is Ivermectin, on your skin, is basically the same thing, your are absorbing the Ivermectin through your skin instead of you stomach, but in the medical studies they used the Solantra between oral doses.

  4. Mike Marca says:

    Are you talking to me? I had a reply on January 22. I used to get pustules, and I also used to flush a lot from my Rosacea. I also used to get mites in my eyes, but not now. The horse paste may work for you, but Ivermectin no longer works for me. My mite infection is at a long time low. I am just using my 9 volt battery now with Pro-Tech-Skin at night. If I do get a mite infection now I will just use alcohol soakings and rife therapy to get the mites down to where I can again just use the 9 volt battery. I used to look ugly with the open pustules, but now my face is clean. I still get mites bitting at times, especially when I first wake up, but I just use the 9 volt battery on those areas for 12 seconds after wetting the area. Mike

  5. J Flkk says:

    I found another helpful thing that has kept my face clear along with the 9 volt battery, Corona (which has beeswax/lanolin same as Mike’s Pro-Tech-Skin ingredients which must be what works in smothering them out), Dawn dish soap to spot treat, Nustock & zinc cream& a little DMSO cream to sleep in) I have been using a strong back massager with two flat round prongs on my face around my cheeks, chin, etc everyday and I believe the strong vibration is either killing them or making your face not a place they can inhabit . I just tried it after using a Clarisonic face brush which also seemed to help and reading about vibrations that mites or parasites cannot live in or tolerate. There does not seem to be any way to completely rid yourself and my immune system was very low due to the stress of my mom having cancer last year and losing her .

    Vladimir, I did not see your earlier comment until now as I havent checked back in for a while so I’m sorry for the late response but yes Corona still works the best for me and thick on eyebrows and lids and lashes, inside nose, lips, face, hairline especially at bedtime along with zinc and a little Nustock. I did Rife (radiofrequency) one time and my face dried and cleared the next day so we are trying to get one of our own. Demodicosis is a constant battle once it gets out of control. We are always exposed to it even from other people, animals, couches, bedding, clothing, car seats, etc. Now I am just happy to be able to leave the house and be seen in public with a mostly clear face and plan to be doing this the rest of my life if I need to.

    They also say Demodicosis is very common in nursing homes, hospitals, etc. The ophthalmologists know about it and call it blepharitis but also know it is a mite and I do not know why they dont call it what it is. But controlling them from your eyebrow/lash/lid area + nose, ears, cheeks, lips is extremely important everyday. I actually lost hearing in one ear for a month and realized later it was the mite overpopulation and cleared it with peroxide washes/alcohol washes and coconut oil. I also have had vision issues where my vision was getting noticeably worse all of the sudden like I couldn’t clearly see the tv where I had been able to before, but then lay down and my vision would seem better from a different angle. Also burning eyes that water constantly is from the mites as well as dry eye can be too. When I really started treating consistently it got a lot better and the blurriness went away. I have read several other posts that said same thing and had eye tests that improved after treatment too. Candida and Lyme disease also seem to play into this mite overpopulation. I use oxibendazole or safeguard horsepaste or Quest (praziquantel) paste topically also if I see spots coming up just to cover all my bases. I have heard Valbazan is a treatment also which is a dewormer also (a guy has a post called AlbendazoleMites) . They treat people for parasites with these medications in other countries already just the US doesn’t have a clue how widespread this problem is in people and dogs, etc.

    I believe they are everywhere on us but give us the worst problem on our faces and scalps. Topicals only do so much but electromicrocurrent (9 volt battery) or radiofrequency seems the best (its the SAME technology the cosmetic surgeons use for a nonsurgical face lift or skin tightening people pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for and also high focused ultrasound therapy to melt fat and increase collagen (think the Kardashians sudden slim downs all over their body and faces that look like they had a face lift but didnt) All of these have a cell repairing effect so your skin renews itself and tightens, I feel like the Rife/Zapper (9 volt) technology which kill bacteria, parasites, and viruses/ and any vibration technique that mites cannot live in is probably the best and safest technique systemwide to kill them on another level or make your skin a place they cannot tolerate to live in. Ivermectin did not work on me or dogs for long. So I feel the medical community will jump on that and not realize it may help for a while but ultimately does not cure and need to look into the other things.

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