Everything You Need To Know About Demodex Blepharitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Demodex Blepharitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Demodex Blepharitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Demodex Blepharitis is an eye disorder that can cause discomfort, redness and swelling. It is caused by Demodex mites that live on your eyelids and lashes. 

Overview of Blepharitis and How Cliradex Towelettes Help

Blepharitis is irritation of the eyelid. Bacterial infections and allergies frequently cause it. Once irritation starts, it can cause dry, cracked skin that is more susceptible to infection. It may also lead to other problems, such as dry eye and clogged glands. Cliradex foam and wipes are excellent options for gently cleansing the eyelid area to reduce irritation and buildup. That, in turn, lowers the risk of cracked skin where bacteria can take hold and cause further problems. 

Demodex Blepharitis Explained

Demodex mites cause some cases of blepharitis. This condition is called Demodex Blepharitis. It is characterized by a waxy buildup along the eyelid and on lashes called collarettes. These contain oil from the skin mixed with eggs and waste from Demodex. It is very common and can be treated with over-the-counter medications. In addition, regularly using Cliradex towelettes can help lower Demodex populations and ease symptoms. 

What Are Demodex?

Demodex is a species of mite that lives on the skin of your face. They are tube-like in appearance, with three body sections and four pairs of legs. Each leg has a claw-like gripper to facilitate clinging to lashes and burrowing into the skin. Demodex mites are incredibly simple organisms that are incapable of complete digestion. As a result, they regurgitate undigested food onto the skin. 

Two types of Demodex are found in people. The smaller of the two, D. brevis, is roughly 0.2 millimeters long. It lives in sebaceous glands and lays its eggs in their opening. The other, D. folliculorum, is approximately 0.4 millimeters long. It lives on eyelashes and hair follicles. D. folliculorum lays its eggs at the base of eyelashes. 

How Do They Cause DB?

Several characteristics of Demodex explain how they cause DB. First, the regurgitated waste, which contains digestive enzymes, can cause irritation, especially in high-sensitive individuals. It also mixes with oil for the skin and eggs to form collarettes. Additionally, debris and eggs can clog sebaceous glands, leading to blockages that cause pain and swelling. Cliradex towelettes offer a safe, gentle way to remove this debris from the eye area. 

What Are the Symptoms of DB?

The single defining characteristic that distinguished DB from other forms of blepharitis is the presence of collarettes. These are the direct result of Demodex. Patients with DB may also experience any or all of the following symptoms: 

  • Dry eye
  • Redness
  • Burning or stinging 
  • Occasional blurry vision
  • The sensation of a foreign body in the eye
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction

How Is It Diagnosed?

If you have eyelid irritation, your doctor can evaluate your eyes and eyelids for signs of DB. The existence of collarettes is often enough to warrant a DB diagnosis. However, many doctors will also examine eyelashes with a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. 

Co-Occurring Conditions

Several other disorders of the eye can occur alongside DB. Some of the most commonly observed conditions include dry eye, ocular rosacea and MGD. Because DB can contribute to these conditions, you must get a complete diagnosis. Treating a disorder without addressing the root cause will only cause symptoms to reappear. 

Risk Factors

Nearly everyone will have some Demodex by the age of 70. In many cases, they cause no problems. However, certain individuals appear to have a higher chance of developing DB. However, because the incidence of Demodex increases with age, that is the most significant risk factor for the condition. It is rarely seen in children. Other risk factors include having: 

  • Pale skin
  • Rosacea
  • A compromised immune system

Treatment Options for Demodex Blepharitis

Sadly, there are no officially approved treatments for DB. However, several topical, oral and in-office treatments have shown efficacy in reducing symptoms and controlling Demodex populations. 

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments are simple to use and readily available. You can find them at pharmacies and online. Many are designed to address symptoms of DB, such as redness and irritation. Others, including Cliradex, address the underlying cause of DB by killing Demodex present on the skin and lashes. 

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is the most widely used and accepted treatment for Demodex Blepharitis. It is readily available and considered safe for most people. TTO is antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. It also has demodicidal properties, which makes it one of the few options that address the underlying cause of DB. Several products for DB, including Cliradex towelettes, contain 4-terpineol, the active ingredient in TTO. 

There is no official standard for using TTO to treat DB. However, many patients find success with a six-week course of intense treatment, followed by regular maintenance cleansing with TTO-based products. This ensures that the treatment is carried out over two complete Demodex life cycles to provide maximum results. 


Tea tree oil is effective thanks to its functional ingredient, 4-terpineol. Research shows that 4-terpineol is an effective treatment against Demodex. It is also antibacterial, which is excellent for addressing secondary infections. Products, including Cliradex towelettes and foaming cleansers, use this compound to maximize efficacy. 

ZEST Eyelid System

ZEST is a specialized okra-based cleanser that can help reduce collarettes and other buildup associated with DB. It is performed in-office with exfoliating pads. However, similar products are available over the counter for home use. 

Hypochlorous Acid

Hypochlorous acid is a topical treatment that is often effective at relieving the eye irritation common with DB. It is available in several formulas, including wipes, sprays and drops. It may bring relief from swelling, redness and irritation. Hypochlorous acid is also widely used for dry eye, which frequently occurs with DB. Keep in mind that HA does not directly treat Dmeodex, so you will need to add a TTO-based product such as Cliradex foam or wipes for that. 

Oral Medications

Prescription Medications

DB can cause long-term inflammation. Prescription anti-inflammatories can help manage this and reduce your risk of developing other ocular conditions. In addition, co-occurring conditions, including bacterial infections, ocular rosacea and meibomian gland dysfunction, are often treated with prescription antibiotics and vasoconstrictors. 

While these prescription remedies effectively manage symptoms and other co-occurring conditions, they do not address the root cause of DB. Therefore, you must also treat the Demodex with a 4-terpineol-based product. Cliradex towelettes are a great solution because they are gentle and will not further irritate already sensitive skin. 

Omega Fatty Acid Supplements

Many DB patients find relief by taking Omega-3 supplements. Omega supplements are commonly used for heart health and to support skin and hair growth. They work by reducing inflammation, which makes them a possible solution for some blepharitis symptoms. Omega supplements are widely considered safe, and most people have little or no side effects when taking them. A few things to consider: 

  • When shopping, choose a product with at least two grams (combined) of DHA and EPA. 
  • Supplements do not control Demodex, so you should also use a TTO product such as Cliradex towelettes to address the underlying cause of your symptoms.
  • It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before adding a supplement if you have any medical conditions or take other medications.

Doctor Administered Treatments

Although cleansing products like Cliradex Light foam are incredibly effective at controlling Demodex, some patients with DB may require in-office treatment to manage symptoms. Consider the following in-office treatments if you need additional help eliminating DB symptoms. 

Manual Debridement

In this treatment, your doctor will manually remove the buildup and debris left behind by Demodex. Several devices exist to assist with this procedure. In addition to removing debris, debridement may also help remove Demodex and bacteria, leaving a healthier eyelid environment. 

Using tea tree oil-based products alongside debridement can help make it an even more effective treatment. For example, cleaning the eyelids daily with Cliradex towelettes after treatment can help further lower the number of mites, reducing the chance of your blepharitis returning. 

Intense Pulsed Light

IPL therapy is widely used for skin conditions. They are gentle and non-invasive, making them a popular option when available. IPL treatments consist of pulses of high-intensity light applied to the treatment area. These disrupt cell processes and help reduce symptoms of blepharitis and MGD. Some research also suggests that IPL is demodicidal, so it can address the underlying causes of Demodex Blepharitis. 

Thermal Pulsation

As its name implies, thermal pulsation uses heat and pressure to reduce the symptoms of blepharitis, such as swelling, pain and general irritations. It is especially effective at removing meibum blockages to clear clogged glands, which makes it an excellent treatment for MGC associated with DB. 

During treatment, your doctor will use a special thermal pulsation device to apply pressure and heat directly to your eyelids and the surrounding skin. If you prefer at-home treatments, you can get similar results using warm compresses and daily cleaning with Cliradex towelettes. 

Cliradex Towelettes for Effective Control of Demodex

Demodex Blepharitis is characterized by eyelid irritation, swelling and redness. It is caused by Demodex mites that live within the skin on the face and eyelids. Proper eyelid hygiene, including using Cliradex towelettes, can help keep Demodex populations in check and reduce symptoms. Cliradex products offer superior cleaning and treatment of Demodex mites while remaining gentle on the skin. Contact us to learn more. 


Leave a Comment