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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2,228 Reader Comments

  1. Mike Marca says:

    Also, do not torment yourself. I use the 9 volt battery for at least 12 seconds, but if this is too much for you just do it to where you can tolerate it. At least it is better than not doing nothing at all. This mite condition has been very hard on me throughout the years, the doctors do not really believe you, you cannot tell people because they do not understand and will stay away from you, and it drives you crazy at times. At least now I have them under my control. Mike

  2. Mike Marca says:

    I put down another “start” of a mite infection with only alcohol soakings, the 9 volt battery, and Pro Tech Skin!

  3. Joanne Mahlowitz says:

    I have found light therapy helps along with using MyChelle sulfur spot treatment. I used Ivermectin for awhile too and was cleared up mostly but I think it’s mostly on my eyes so I have purchased Cliradex to use to be rid of them more. I also like the product of Neem Oil diluted to a ratio of 1/9 with coconut oil. Read up on Neem oil. It’s gentle on skin as long as it’s diluted and is rich in vit E and other good things. It interrupts the life cycle of the mites and they don’t reproduce from what I understand. I want to go natural route. I of course change sheets weekly and more so with pillowcases and towels. I use Borax in wash and tea tree oil or eucalyptus in dryer balls. One recent flare up I feel was due to poor hygiene at an eye doctors office. The tech was using the same cloth to clean everyone’s glasses! Like yuck! I didn’t realize I have been reinfecting myself perhaps with others demodex mites if they live on oils and skin cells in material for a time. Why take the chance? I had not been there for over a month. I occasionally get my glasses adjusted and so went in with my face clear after a few months of diligence about mites. So next day my nose had a couple red dots or flare ups. I made a connection. I expect better hygiene at a doctors office. Check where you could be infected. Also scrupulously clean under your nails.

  4. Joanne Mahlowitz says:

    Also I wish to add that there is a product that is currently out of stock that I wish to try called MooGoo demodectic powder for rosacea. It has mica in it and that kills the mites as they eat it and it explodes them. It sounds great. It is applied at night. I hope it’s in stock soon.

  5. Mike Marca says:

    What I am doing is working. I am done trying other things right now. Mike

  6. Joanne says:

    Also for women I recommend a mineral powder that is really pure. Demure. Again Mica is first ingredient and then it has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and ultramarine and oxides for color. Zinc is very nourishing to your skin.

  7. Jim says:

    I have had the mites for about 8 years. The ivermectin horse paste work for me the first time this was before Solantra was available. Then I used Ivermectin injectable which is 1% just like Solantra and that worked for a while. My question is there may be another way I just started scuba diving in the past three years I go once a year to caribbean areas to dive so lots of sun and my mite problem always seems to be completely gone when I get home after about 2 weeks. So my hypothesis is that maybe the pressure of being down 80Ft for 45min is killing the mites. It would seem that they are very fragile and the extra pressure may just make them explode and leave the pores. The salt water is also good for cleansing. But I just noticed this last year. I’m having a out break right now and I’m leaving in a few days to go diving again so I will report back if it all clears up or not. For any Dr. or researchers this may be something to look into.

    • DAK says:

      Bet you are so right Jim. That makes a lot of sense. Good thinking! I may have to try that?
      I unfortunately have D. Brevis everywhere. I use Bentonite clay to soak in the tub, I also make hair & face masks. That seems to help. Its crazy the amount of time & $$$ I spend, its nuts. 8 yrs, not sure I can take it that long, its maddening!

  8. Mike Marca says:

    Hello Jim. Try what I do to suppress an outbreak. First, soak the area with 91% rubbing alcohol for 20 minutes. Then when it dries up use the 9 volt battery after wetting the area with water for 22 seconds. Then finally, use Pro Tech Skin on the area. If it didn’t take care of it the first time do it again. That takes care of it for me. For maintenance, I use the 9 volt battery about every other day, and I put on the Pro Tech Skin before bedtime. Mike

  9. Sunshine says:

    My rosacea spots on nose also get better on holidays in the sun and always better over summer than winter (uk). Think they don’t like the sun.

  10. DAK says:

    They hate sun. They also hate high temps, I go to the gym & sit in the sauna but I keep acv & h2o in a spray bottle to spray my face, hair & body. Then the area where I sat, even tho their dead.

  11. Earth says:

    This thread is so helpful! Just now finding this and I’m in the worst flare of my life and I just don’t know which product to use next. Used finacea after years off it and went back to it after natural products were helping then they just weren’t. So brought back Finacea it aggravated even more than the last time I tried it! I’ve tried so many of the products both western and natural and I just can’t seem to manage the flares or even figure out what is good or harming it. Everything is a trigger. My face is scarring and I’m panicking. It’s been about 5 years of actively trying everything under the sun (and no sun) 😉 What do I do?!

  12. Mike Marca says:

    Hello Rhonda. The 9 volt battery works great! The mites do not like being shocked, and I believe it destroys the eggs as well. I also believe it also kills most of the mites. From my experience if you feel a little pain while doing it there are mites there in pain biting. My face is clean because of the 9 volt battery. Sure it is a little pain at times, but it does the job where nothing else does! Get a new 9 volt battery with a full charge first. Then wet the area with water before putting the 9 volt battery on the skin. Leave it there for over 20 seconds. Do all the areas on your face where you believe the mites are. If you feel nothing, then there are probably no mites there. Do it once a day until your face clears. Also, apply something on your face while sleeping to keep the mites from moving around and making babies. I use Pro Tech Skin and pure Lanolin before I sleep. The pure lanolin is sticky, but it works better. When I go places I use Pro Tech Skin. You can buy this on ebay. Hopefully, It works as well for you. Mike

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