Wait, Can You Can Get Lash Mites From Extensions?

"They're similar to head lice, but much smaller."

Excuse Me, You Can Get Lash Mites From Extensions?
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It's not just you, it feels like everyone is into XL lashes nowadays — whether that's achieved through layers of lengthening mascara, strip lashes, or professional lash extensions. We love this look, but as with anything cosmetic, routine maintenance is key to avoid infections.

TikTok recently brought lash mites to our attention, and we haven't been able to stop thinking about them. The hashtag #lashmites currently has over three and a half million views on the platform, with users uploading videos explaining what they are and their experiences dealing with them.

Before we throw out our favorite mascara and swear off extensions, we tapped three lash experts to explain what exactly lash mites are, whether or not they're something to be concerned about, and how we can keep our lids mite-free.

What Are Lash Mites?

Karolina Swiderska, a lash technician at London Lash explains that lash mites (the correct term is Demodex mites) are little bugs that live in the eyelash follicles. "[They're] similar to head lice, but much smaller," she adds.

Before you freak out though, Janelle Davison, OD, an optometrist and twenty/twenty beauty Visionary Panel member, says that they don't usually pose a problem. In fact, she says they actually help get rid of dead skin by eating it. And while, yes that sounds completely gross,the good news is lash mites really aren't something to fear unless there's an overgrowth.

What Causes Lash Mites?

As previously mentioned, having a healthy amount of lash mites helps maintain lash and lid health. However, overgrowth can be caused by several factors.

For starters, Pam Theriot, OD, an optometrist and twenty/twenty beauty Visionary Panel Member says that age is an important factor: "[Overgrowth] is observed in 84% of the general population aged over 60 years and 100% of the general population over 70 years old," she shares. On the flip side, it is very rare under the age of 16.

While age is inevitable, there are other factors that can be controlled. Theriot and Davison recommend swapping out your mascara and liquid eyeliner every three months, throwing out your powder eyeshadows every year, and regularly sharpening eyeliner pencils. Additionally, they say to remove eye makeup every night, avoid expired eye products, and regularly clean makeup brushes and sponges — and whatever you do, do not share eye makeup.

When it comes to lash extensions, it's not the actual extensions that cause lash mite infestations, but rather failing to properly clean them. And by the way, Swiderska explains that it's a common misconception that extensions can't get wet — and this often leads to improper hygiene. If kept consistently clean she says that not only will the risk of infection be very low, but the life of the set will actually be much longer.

VIDEO: 6 Habits That May Be Causing Your Eyelashes to Fall Out

How Can You Tell If You Have Lash Mites?

When you have overgrowth, Theriot says common symptoms are crusty lid margins, inner rim redness, eye irritation, and itchiness in the eye area — specifically at the base of the lashes. In extreme cases, Swiderska says the whole eye area can become inflamed and have crusty residue around the roots of the lashes.

What's the Best Way to Prevent Attracting Lash Mites?

Thankfully, it's easy prevent lash mite overgrowth — you just need to be consistent with your lash hygiene. "Whether a person is wearing eyelash extensions or not, the eye area should be thoroughly cleansed every day to remove sebum, dust, and dead skin cells," says Swiderska. For optimal results, she suggests cleansing the eye area twice a day to prevent infection.

What's the Best Way to Get Rid of Lash Mites?

Once you've identified an overgrowth, all experts recommend going to an eye doctor or optician. "They will be able to examine your eyes and make sure they give the correct diagnosis and the ideal treatment based on how severe the condition is," explains Swiderska.

Theriot further explains that in-office treatments are the most effective in eradicating mites and that the two best methods on the market are IPL therapy, which studies show dramatically reduce Demodex, and Zest Zocular treatment, which gently exfoliates eyelids.

Moral of the story: Just take care of your lashes.

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