Demodex is a parasitic mite that lives on human skin and are found in hair follicles as part of our normal microbiome. When they overpopulate on the eyelids and eyelashes, this can lead to Demodex blepharitis.
This cause of blepharitis is often overlooked and is a common cause of dry eye, eye irritation, redness, and contact lens intolerance.
How do you know if you have Demodex blepharitis? This is seen as cylindrical dandruff (collarettes) at the base of the eyelashes and is seen best when looking downwards.
How is Demodex Blepharitis treated?
Up until now, there have not been any FDA approved treatments for Demodex blepharitis. The most commonly used treatment has been Tea tree oil, with its effective ingredient terpinen-4-ol. Tea tree oil has been shown to kill Demodex mites, but it is also a harsh treatment that can cause irritation.
The first FDA-approved treatment for Demodex blepharitis has just been released by Tarsus called XDEMVY. This is used twice daily for 6 weeks and has been shown to be very effective in treating Demodex blepharitis. While it is not yet available, it is anticipated this will be a tremendous benefit to patients.
Intensed pulsed light (IPL) has also been shown to kill demodex mites by rapidly heating the mite which makes IPL another excellent treatment option.