Understanding What Causes Demodex Blepharitis and How To Treat It

Demodex Blepharitis

If hearing a diagnosis of Demodex Blepharitis sounds scary, then seeing pictures of the tiny mites behind this uncomfortable condition definitely puts it into the horror movie category.

However, Demodex Blepharitis is more common than some might think, and it can often be successfully managed with topical products and regular cleaning with Cliradex towelettes.

Cliradex Towelettes Provide Relief From Demodex Blepharitis

Cliradex wipes use the active ingredient 4-terpineol, which has been shown to kill Demodex mites. They are easy to use and gentle on the skin, which is essential for sensitive eye areas.

Learn more about what causes Demodex Blepharitis, how it is diagnosed and why Cliradex products work so well to manage symptoms.

Blepharitis Is A Widespread Ocular Complaint

Blepharitis, or eyelid irritation, is a common complaint affecting millions of people in the U.S. annually. It brings many symptoms that can range from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. These typically include:

  • Dry eye
  • General irritation
  • Burning or stinging
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Blurry vision
  • Pain

Common causes of blepharitis include allergies and bacterial infections. These can be treated with medications.

Topical products, including Cliradex towelettes, can help establish proper eyelid and lash hygiene and reduce the severity of some blepharitis symptoms.

However, if left untreated, DB may contribute to other eye conditions, including infections, keratitis and meibomian gland dysfunction. These often require treatment with prescription medications.

Demodex Is A Common Parasite

Demodex is a common parasite that affects nearly everyone at some point. Two distinct types live on or in human skin.

The larger of the two is D. folliculorum. It measures 0.4 millimeters or smaller at maturity and lives within hair and eyelash follicles. D. brevis is slightly smaller and inhabits sebaceous glands of the face and eye area.

Both species of Demodex have tube-shaped bodies with three segments and four pairs of legs. Each leg ends in a claw-shaped gripper that helps the mites climb eyelashes and burrow into the skin.

They are simple creatures without complete digestive systems. As a result, they must regurgitate undigested food.

It is important to note that age plays a large role in the number of Demodex found on a person.

Mite populations and frequency of infection increase with age, with 100% of people over age 70 showing signs of Demodex. On the other hand, research suggests that fewer than 15% of children under 15 years old are infected.

Demodex Blepharitis Occurs When Demodex Mites Cause Irritation

Demodex Blepharitis is a type of eyelid irritation resulting from a Demodex infection. Although blepharitis is common, the number of cases attributed to Demodex may be undercounted.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Like other forms of blepharitis, DB brings about burning, stinging, pain, swelling, and general irritation.

Eyes and eyelids may also turn red, and some patients will experience intermittent blurry vision.

Daily cleaning with Cliradex towelettes can help relieve this irritation while reducing the mite population on the skin.

The key difference between DB and blepharitis stemming from other causes is that patients with the former also develop a buildup of waste, eggs, and sebum along the lash line.

It can also appear as tubes on eyelashes. These are called collarettes.

Diagnostic Criteria

Collarettes are the defining diagnostic criteria for Demodex Blepharitis. They do not appear with any other form of the condition.

Therefore, patients presenting to an eye doctor with eyelid irritation and other signs of blepharitis should be evaluated for collarettes and waxy buildup associated with DB.

If a doctor suspects DB, she will typically conduct a microscopic lash analysis to confirm the presence of Demodex.

Then, patients are often instructed to begin a course of treatment with a tea tree oil-based cleanser such as Cliradex towelettes.

Accompanying Conditions

Unfortunately, DB is commonly found alongside other eye disorders. If left untreated, DB may contribute to these and other issues.

For example, excess buildup at the opening of glands can cause blockages, and chronic inflammation may trigger an additional immune response. Some of the most common co-occurring conditions include:

  • Irregular eyelash growth
  • Dry eye
  • Keratitis
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction
  • Ocular rosacea

Risk Factors

Age is the biggest risk factor for developing DB. This is primarily because Demodex populations grow throughout the human lifespan, so virtually everyone will have them present on their face by age 70.

On the other hand, it is highly unusual for children to be diagnosed with DB because they are less likely to have mites on their skin.

While age is the most important risk factor for a DB diagnosis, it is not the only one. Individuals with certain characteristics or health conditions are also at greater risk.

For example, having a pale complexion seems to be associated with the condition. It is also more common among patients with ocular rosacea than those without it.

Finally, some lifestyle factors can increase the risk of developing DB. For example, stress appears to be a significant factor for many people with blepharitis in general.

It may exacerbate inflammation, leading to a general increase in symptoms.

Individuals with risk factors for DB can help reduce the likelihood of developing the condition by practicing good eyelid hygiene that includes products such as Cliradex towelettes.

Several DB Treatments Are Available

Luckily, treatments are available to help relieve blepharitis symptoms and kill Demodex mites. Patients can choose from several effective at-home and in-office therapies to find one that brings them relief.

Topical Treatments

Topical DB treatments are the first line of defense against Demodex. These are simple to use and available in various formulations, including sprays, drops, wipes, foams and creams.

The most effective topical treatments include 4-terpineol, which has been shown to kill Demodex mites.

Hypochlorous Acid

This mild cleanser is often effective at relieving many symptoms associated with blepharitis. For example, it can be used to reduce irritation and redness around the eyes.

Hypochlorous acid is readily available at most pharmacies in sprays, drops and wipes. However, patients should note that products do not kill any Demodex.

Therefore, they should be supplemented with additional treatment using Cliradex towelettes or a similar product.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is widely regarded as a versatile natural medicinal. Its functional ingredient, 4-terpineol, is antiviral, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. It also has demodicidal properties, which makes it one of the most effective treatments against DB.


As mentioned earlier, 4-terpineol is the active ingredient in tea tree oil. Eye-cleansing products containing this isolated compound are incredibly effective at managing Demodex overpopulation.

Daily use of a product such as Cliradex towelettes can help reduce mite numbers to a manageable level while also removing accumulated debris around the eyes.

They are an essential part of a proper eyelid hygiene routine. Additionally, 4-terpineol products are gentle enough to use around the eye area without causing irritation.

Other Treatment Options

TTO and 4-terpineol are the go-to treatments for most patients. However, other choices may be a better fit.


The Zocular Eyelid System Treatment uses an okra-based cleanser and gentle exfoliation pads to remove buildup along the eyelids and lashes.

Other at-home products containing similar ingredients may also provide relief; however, patients should be aware that only TTO-based products are known to kill Demodex.

ZEST is quick and painless, and it provides immediate relief from symptoms associated with DB.

It works incredibly well when used alongside at-home medicated cleansing with Cliradex towelettes to kill the remaining Demodex.

Prescription Medications

Prescriptions aren’t typically given to treat DB. However, they can effectively treat accompanying infections, redness and chronic inflammation.

In those cases, doctors may prescribe antibiotics, vasoconstrictors or anti-inflammatories.

Omega-3 Supplementation

Inflammation is a common symptom of DB. Many patients find that omega-3 supplements can help address this inflammation and keep it from becoming a chronic problem.

These products are widely available and typically very safe to use, with few or no side effects. However, while they may provide some relief, they do not address the Demodex infection that causes DB.

Therefore, simultaneous use of a product such as Cliradex foam is advised to reduce the number of Demodex present.

IPL Treatments

During an IPL treatment, a doctor applies pulses of high-intensity light to the affected area. This disrupts cellular processes and can provide immediate relief from many DB symptoms.

It may also reduce the number of mites present in the treatment area. However, optimal results often require supplemental at-home cleansing with Cliradex towelettes or a similar product.

Eyelash and Lid Debridement

Patients with significant accumulations of collarettes may benefit from in-office debridement. This involves gently removing the surface material with exfoliating tools. It can quickly eliminate collarettes and significantly reduce mite numbers.

Thermal Treatments

The application of heat and pressure with a special medical device can help melt deposits and clear clogged meibum.

It is an incredibly effective treatment for patients who have developed MGD due to a Demodex infection. Using warm compresses can provide similar relief at home.

However, thermal pulsation does not address underlying infection, so that should also be addressed with medicated products such as Cliradex towelettes.

Get Relief From Demodex Blepharitis With Cliradex Towelettes

Demodex Blepharitis causes irritation to the eyelids and surrounding tissue. It is caused by an overpopulation of Demodex mites.

Without treatment, patients may develop other eye disorders. Luckily, products such as Cliradex towelettes make practicing good eyelid hygiene and treating DB simple. Contact us to learn more about how Cliradex helps fight Demodex Blepharitis.