Doctor: Millions of people have eyelash mites and don't even know it

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WBNS) - If you've never heard of eyelash mites you're not alone. However, doctors say millions of people have them but don't even know it.

Eyelash mites, also known as Demodex Mites, are microscopic parasites that live along the base and lid of eyelashes.

Dr. Alice Epitropoulos, with Ophthalmic Surgeons & Consultants in Columbus, Ohio, told WBNS-TV eyelash mites are incredibly common. They're passed from person to person and they feed on the mucus and oils that people tend to secrete from pores. They like face follicles, especially on lashes where they lay their eggs.

"These mites do not like light so they're more active at night. They come out when people are sleeping, at which time they feed, mate and reproduce."

Symptoms can include itchiness around your lash line and rough patches of skin or redness around your eye. Another sign to watch for can be a burning sensation around your eyes.

Dr. Epitropoulos said the best way to get rid of them is through a treatment called Blephex. It involves a spinning medical-grade microsponge and a cleaning solution.

"Almost like an electrical toothbrush to exfoliate the lids and lashes, which is very effective in removing the mites."

However, there are things you can do up front to avoid getting them. Doctors recommend using tea tree oil on your eyelids before you sleep. They also say these mites are more likely to be crawling on the lashes of people with naturally oily skin and those who fall asleep wearing makeup.

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