Face mites, also known as hair follicle mites, thrive on nearly all human faces. A medical condition called demodicosis results when too many face mites live on the same face. Demodicosis is not normally a serious ailment, but face mites can gain over an infested face when the human host's immune system is compromised (such as by an HIV infection). Doctors have various methods of treating demodicosis.
Hair follicle mites live on many parts of the human face, but especially favor the ears, nose and eyelashes. Too many mites cause itching, scaling, dryness, redness and inflammation on infected areas. Symptoms affect any, some or all areas of the face where mites live. A severe infestation of face mites on the eyelashes (the most common area) can lead to loss of lashes, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) and vision problems.
Face mites love oily skin and dead skin cells, since they eat both substances. To avoid buildup of skin oils, wash the face often with non-soap cleansers. Tea tree oil is one doctor-recommended choice for this purpose. Avoid greasy makeup, as it contributes to the problem of oily skin. To avoid buildup of dead skin cells, exfoliate (scrub) the face occasionally. Facial hygiene for the whole family is key to preventing demodicosis.
If the symptoms of demodicosis are present, it is time to seek out a doctor for diagnosis. There are at least two different types of demodicosis, including primary and secondary varieties, and treatments vary for each type. Treatments also vary depending on the location and intensity of the infestation of hair follicle mites. A doctor may take facial hair or skin samples that a specialist will look at under a microscope, which is necessary in order to see tiny face mites.
A doctor may recommend a dermatologist (skin doctor) or an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) for treating demodicosis. Some possible treatments for moderate demodicosis are scrubbing affected areas with baby shampoo, rubbing alcohol, mercury oxide or concentrated tea tree oil. A doctor may prescribe a topical (applied to the skin) insecticide like permethrin cream or a topical antibiotic like erythromycin for heavy infestations. Severe demodicosis, which often accompanies HIV is treated with oral ivermectin. Do not attempt to self-treat; a doctor's advice is necessary.
After treating demodicosis, a doctor may recommend continued facial scrubbing with baby shampoo to alleviate symptoms. Applying antibiotic ointment at night will inhibit face mite reproduction, thus keeping mite populations down. The same measures useful for preventing demodicosis are also useful in follow-up care. Proper follow-up ensures that the hair follicle mite infestation will either be controlled at an acceptable level or eradicated entirely. Demodicosis will not return as long as the patient continues with preventative measures.