Eye irritation is a common occurrence. Millions of people visit medical doctors every year for evaluation of symptoms, including dry eye, irritation, and blurry vision.
Cliradex towelettes are an effective tool in proper eyelid hygiene and can help soothe irritation. The underlying causes of irritation are generally benign but could also be caused by a more serious condition. Demodex Blepharitis is one of these conditions. This guide will help you learn more about its causes, symptoms, and effective treatments.
What Is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is another name for eyelid inflammation. This eye condition is characterized by irritation, redness, and burning sensations.
Bacterial infections, allergies, or hypersensitivity commonly cause it. However, it can also be caused by other conditions, some of which can be serious.
For example, ocular rosacea causes irritation and swelling in eyelids. It is often an early indicator that you may develop the skin condition rosacea. Demodex Blepharitis is another type of eyelid disorder. Left untreated, it may develop into serious conditions such as meibomian gland dysfunction.
What Is Demodex?
Demodex is a type of mite that inhabits human skin. Like other microorganisms, it typically resides on and in the skin without causing problems.
Most adults will develop a healthy population of Demodex by the time they are 70 years old. They can typically be managed by using gentle cleansing products designed to address DB, such as Cliradex towelettes. However, it can cause complications, such as irritation and blurry vision, under certain conditions.
What Are Demodex Mites?
Human facial skin is home to two types of Demodex mites. The first, D. folliculorum, is the larger of the two at around 0.4 millimeters in length. It lives in the hair follicles of the face and on eyelashes. In addition, it lays eggs on lash follicles.
The second type, D. brevis, is smaller, with a length between 0.2 and 0.3 millimeters. It lives in sebaceous glands on the skin. D. brevis lays eggs at the opening of these glands, which can cause blockages.
Despite their different habitats, both Demodex mites have many similar characteristics. For example, they have cylindrical bodies with three segments. Both also have four pairs of legs with grippers at the ends to make climbing lashes and burrowing into the skin easier.
Each has a typical life cycle of three weeks. Eggs hatch into larvae after two weeks, and adults live for about a week afterward. Additionally, neither is capable of complete digestion, so they regurgitate their undigested food onto the surrounding skin.
Does Everyone Have Them?
It isn’t pleasant to think of parasitic mites living on your face, but it’s a natural part of life for almost everyone. Although people are not born with Demodex mites, virtually everyone will acquire them by age 70. Practicing eyelid hygiene by using Cliradex towelettes or a similar product can help keep populations under control.
Children tested rarely have mites. When they do, an underlying health condition usually allows the mites to colonize.
How Do They Cause Demodex Blepharitis?
The physical characteristics of Demodex mites directly cause Demodex Blepharitis. For example, a buildup of waste can cause irritation, and blocked sebaceous glands are linked to redness and swelling.
Most people coexist with Demodex mites with no problems at all. However, symptoms often develop when the population gets out of control. That is why it is crucial to use an effective eyelid cleanser such as Cliradex towelettes to remove excess mites and the associated debris.
What Are the Symptoms of Demodex Blepharitis?
DB is characterized by a waxy buildup along the lashes. Called collarettes, these cylindrical tubes that encircle lashes are comprised of oil, eggs, and Demodex waste. These cause irritation and may make you feel as if there is a foreign object in your eye. However, they can be washed off with a cleanser designed for use around the eyes, such as Cliradex foam or wipes.
DB causes several other symptoms, including:
- Eyelid redness
- Irritation, including burning and stinging
- Intermittent blurry vision
- Malformed lashes
- Feeling as if a foreign object is in the eye
- Contact lens intolerance
These symptoms are commonly associated with other forms of blepharitis. However, the presence of collarettes is usually confirmation of Demodex mites. Additionally, many people have mites present but never develop symptoms associated with them. If you suspect DB and over-the-counter products, such as Cliradex towelettes, have not helped provide relief, it is usually a good idea to visit an eye doctor for a formal diagnosis.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Blepharitis is diagnosed by its signs and symptoms, including redness and irritation on and around the eyelids, blurry vision, and dry eye. Collarettes indicate that Demodex may be the underlying cause of blepharitis. In many cases, they are sufficient for diagnosing DB. However, some doctors may order a microscopic lash analysis to confirm the diagnosis.
Many topical treatments are effective at relieving symptoms of blepharitis regardless of its cause. So, if your doctor suspects DB, he may suggest starting treatment while you wait for confirmation.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
Currently, no approved treatment to eradicate Demodex from the eye area exists. However, several treatments address DB symptoms. Options include over-the-counter cleansers, oral medications, and in-office medical procedures.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is the most effective topical treatment to manage DB. It is a safe and natural treatment that, when used correctly, alleviates symptoms and kills Demodex. In addition to its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, TTO also kills Demodex. Cliradex towelettes contain the active ingredient in TTO (4-terpineol); they have been shown to be gentle on the skin with little to no irritation upon use.
Tea tree oil can be used on its own or alongside other therapies. There is no approved course of treatment with TTO; however, many doctors recommend using it for six weeks. This covers two complete life cycles of Demodex, which increases the chances that you will effectively kill adults, larvae, and eggs.
The 4-terpineol in TTO is the functional ingredient of tea tree oil and what makes it so effective at treating DB. Studies show it effectively kills Demodex without irritation. Cliradex foam and wipes contain this vital TTO compound, making them especially effective at treating DB and related ocular conditions.
Hypochlorous acid is another popular cleanser. It is gentle on the skin and removes the buildup associated with Demodex. It is also effective at reducing symptoms associated with other forms of blepharitis. Hypochlorous acid is widely available in eyelid cleansing products, including wipes, sprays, and drops. However, while it may reduce symptoms, it will not treat the underlying cause of DB.
Zocular Exfoliative Eyelid Treatment
The Zocular Eyelid System Treatment is an okra-based cleanser that gently but effectively exfoliates and cleans eyelids, lashes, and the skin around the eyes. ZEST is conducted in a medical office using an exfoliating applicator.
While effective at removing buildup and relieving many symptoms of blepharitis, ZEST does not kill Demodex. As a result, symptoms will continue to recur until the underlying cause is addressed.
Omega-3 supplements can help reduce inflammation that is characteristic of blepharitis. They are widely available and considered safe. Most people can tolerate taking these supplements with no side effects. Their safety profile and anti-inflammatory properties make them popular for relieving symptoms associated with dry eye and blepharitis.
Prescriptions are offered in certain DB situations, such as when co-occurring conditions require medication management. They may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation or secondary infection associated with the condition.
This in-office treatment uses heat and gentle pressure to reduce swelling and impaction of sebaceous glands. You can obtain similar results at home by applying warm compresses to your eyes.
Pulsed Light Therapy
Intense pulsed light therapy is widely used to treat dermatological conditions and is an accepted treatment for DB. IPL uses bursts of high-intensity light on the affected area. It safely removes discoloration and helps reduce symptoms. Some research indicates that it may also be demodicidal.
In-office debridement involves manually removing buildup associated with Demodex. It is an effective strategy for reducing accumulated waste, eggs, collarettes, and sebum. Debridement also removes some of the Demode, translating to fewer future symptoms.
Who Is at Risk for Demodex Blepharitis?
The condition can affect anyone since nearly everyone will eventually acquire Demodex mites. However, some people are more susceptible to developing symptoms than others.
Age is the single most significant risk factor for DB. Regular cleaning of eyelids with Cliradex towelettes can help reduce the likelihood of symptoms developing.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About the Condition?
Blepharitis is a common condition associated with eyelid irritation, dry eye, and redness of the eye area. DB is a form of the condition caused by Demodex mites. Treatment with tea tree oil products, including Cliradex towelettes and foaming cleanser, is often effective at managing symptoms and killing mites.
How Can Cliradex Towelettes Help With Eyelid Hygiene?
Proper eyelid hygiene helps reduce the number of Demodex in and around the eyelids. It can also remove buildup associated with their normal activities. Cliradex towelettes are a simple addition to an everyday eyelid hygiene routine.
They are gentle enough to use on the delicate skin of the face and around the eyes. Additionally, because they contain 4-terpineol, Cliradex products effectively reduce the number of mites present.