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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2,113 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.

  6. Mike Marca says:

    Hello again. I just had a breakout of Rosacea and demodex. First my face flushed with Rosacea, then papules, then open sores from the papules, and then mites biting. I used rife therapy and then soaked the areas with 91% alcohol for 20 minutes. Now my face is going back to normal, and I am now just using the 9 volt battery during the day and Pro-Tech-Skin at night when I sleep. It is when my Rosacea flares up that the mites multiply rapidly and get very aggressive. My face is now back to normal. Mike

    • Melissa Stamps says:

      Mike, exactly how does one use the 9 volt battery? And what is Pro tech skin? And where would I find it? My rosacea has been horrible lately and Dr prescribed soolantra but I’m not sure my insurance will cover it. I found this site while researching demodex and rosacea. Thanks, Melissa

      • JIMR says:

        Melissa,
        There is another comment section in this group that is just about Soolantra and how your face will really bad break out possibly when using because it is killing the mites and when they die especially in mass, their feces being released after death is what causes the pustules etc. I took oral ivermectin and had the worst break out but then it got better and now is just like it was before I every had Rosacea. Im retired now and have no prescription coverage so I have now just been using Ivermectin injectable which is $23-$35 on Amazon for 50ml bottle. I just apply it to a cotton make up pad my wife uses and wipe it on my skin at night. It is the same concentration as Soolantra so it is safe to use this way. Someone on the soolantra site was also using it this way since it is so much cheaper.

        Just be ready for a break out like you have never had before and t will take a few weeks before it gets better.

  7. Mike Marca says:

    Today I had a mite that was very hard to get rid of. I tried everything, and he still was bitting. So I took out my secret weapon. He died instantly. I only use it if I really do not have anything else that will work. It is a zapper that I made up myself. It has much more voltage and amps than a mere 9 volt battery. If anyone is interested I will tell him or her how to make it. The voltage will make me jump a little when I use it. It will not harm me, but it does hurt a little when I use it. Mike

  8. Mike Marca says:

    Well as you probably know most electronics today have a transformer that you plug into a wall. I took a transformer that steps down 120 volts AC into 18 volts DC with 50 mA pushing it (thats milliamps not amps). I cut off the end of the cord, peeled back the wires a little, and on each wire I soldered the strands together to make them hard, leaving exposed about 1/8 inch each. I then mixed up some epoxie, and before the wires I made a hard plug that stablized the soldered wires. The wires are the electrodes, of which I made about 1/8 inch apart. or perhaps a tad more. Remember, the wires are to never touch each other, especially when on. That is why I made the epoxie plug to stablize the wires. Do not get epoxie on the wires. To use the device I just wet the area where the ornery mite is, and just touch the area with the electrodes (after plugging the transformer into the wall socket). This should kill the offending mite. Have fun. Mike

  9. Mike Marca says:

    I imagine that if you connected two 9 volt batteries in series the outcome would be the same except for the amperage, but I haven’t tried it this way though. Mike

  10. mary says:

    Soolantra has been working great for me. I have been using it for 2 months.

    • JIMR says:

      Mary,
      How many times a day do you apply it and is it be be used and a daily basis indefinitely or is it used for a few months an then stop. I don’t have insurance so now I was thinking of trying injectable 1% Ivermectin and just apply it to my face.

  11. Mike Marca says:

    Pure Lanolin is 2x better than Pro-Tech-Skin! Mike

  12. Mike Marca says:

    My eyebrows are starting to grow back! Mike

    • Vladimir says:

      Do you still have mites? And how do you think why they started to growing back? Coz of what? Lanolin?

      • John says:

        They’re likely growing back because the population of mites was reduced. The same thing happened to me–losing my eyebrows and eyelahses from mite infestation. 6 months of soolantra and tea-tree oil mixed with face wash and my eyebrows have finally stopped falling out.

  13. Mike Marca says:

    No, I noticed that the lanolin bothered my skin if I used it too much. There is only too things that I do now. At night I put on Pro-Tech- Skin and once during the day I use the 9 volt battery (after wetting the area with water) on the main areas on my face. There is now no rosacea and very little mite activity. Mike

  14. Mike Marca says:

    Hello again. I had a small mite infection at the bottom of my nose which my normal routine did not extinguish. Instead of using rife therapy to take care of it I used alcohol soakings and lanolin. It took care of it. I am now back to my normal routine of Pro-Tech-Skin at night and the 9 volt battery during the day. What I am doing is working for me. Mike

  15. John says:

    Be careful with Selenium Sulfide shampoo for treating this. In my experience, Selenium Sulfide used on the face will just cause the mites to migrate. I didn’t have have any issues on my scalp until I used Selenium Sulfide shampoo on my face for 7 days. Shortly thereafter I developed symptoms on my head that previously I only had on my face.

    I moved on to mixing a copious amount of tea tree oil with shampoo, massaging it into my scalp before bed, letting it sit for ~15 minutes then rinsing. This has helped tremendously.

  16. alej says:

    hey JIMR if your still around i have a question.
    i started the paste and soolantra last Tuesday. things seem really bad starting the Friday and really bad today. is this normal? my face is ALOT more red and got a bunch of small whiteheads on my forehead and around my cheeks.
    and something ive noticed is increased sensitivity. in the morning i used to just gently wash my face with water. but once i started the paste/soolantra my face gets really red and kinda hurts after just putting some water on my face.

    • JIMR says:

      Alej, I would not use them both together as they are the same thing. With that said I know in a few research items I have posted they did use both together but you are getting a double dose of Ivermectin. So maybe just go with the Soolantra.

      When I first used the Horse paste Soolantra was available then and my face blew up the worst it had ever been for about 5-6 days then it got better each day and now is still clear. You are killing the mites and when they die they cause the skin reaction but now they are dieing in mass.

      Now since I do not have insurance I use the injectable Ivermectin that is the same concentration as Soolantra and just wipe the liquid on my face if I see a pustule.

      Watch this ladie’s videos on her use of Soolantra it will give you reassurance.

  17. Mike Marca says:

    JIMR, my face looked like yours above once, but now my face is completely clear. It is when I start to flush a little from my rosacea that the mite activity picks up. If I take care of the mite activity my rocacea will subside along with skin outbreaks like yours above. Bill, I’m sorry, I didn’t see your writing above till now. I look at the 9 volt battery as some people used to get lawn worms for fishing. There used to be a time where people would get worms for fishing by driving grounding rods into the ground and then apply electricity. The worms would come out of their holes. The same is true when using the 9 volt battery after wetting the area. The mites would leave their homes and hopefully would also kill the eggs. At night I use Pro-Tech-Skin to restrict their movement, since at night they are very active. During the day I use the 9 volt battery in areas where there is increased mite activity. If I happen to have a time where my routine is not enough I use rife therapy, alcohol soakings, and lanolin, but this only happens once a month or two. Otherwise my routine is working fine for me. Mike

  18. Mike Marca says:

    It is very easy. Just wet the area where you will use the 9 volt battery with regular water, and hold the battery there for 12 to 15 seconds. If there are mites there you will feel them biting or have a pain sensation. If you feel nothing there are no mites there. I don’t have time now for a video. I am in the process of moving. Mike

  19. Ted says:

    Mike, and update?

  20. Mike Marca says:

    Hello Ted. I guess that you want an update from me? As of right now I have no breakouts. My face is clean. I just keep doing what I explained above. Every day I still have some biting going on, but I just use the 9 volt battery on those areas once a day and I am fine. I still use Pro-Tech-Skin at night. I haven’t had a major outbreak for about two months. It is nice to feel normal again “knock on wood.” Mike

  21. Carole bond says:

    As anyone got a photo of what mites look like
    I have white swellings under the skin on my nose and spreading ?

    • You can’t see them without a microscope. Best place to go is your local vet and ask if they can look under their microscope! Check out the Demodex solutions webpage and go to videos to check how to best get samples

  22. Ale says:

    Mike, i have bought 9 volt battery. But when i hold it on my skin… nothing, i dont feel any
    voltage. Should i break it somehow?

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