There are worms living on my eyelashes and eyebrows, feasting on my dead skin cells and eye secretions and burrowing into my hair follicle. They have tiny claws and needle-like mouthparts so they can burrow and feast. They come out at night when I’m asleep and crawl over my eyes, laying their eggs and having a party. When the sun comes up, they squirm back into their nests and laugh at me. When I wake up in the morning and have watery, itchy eyes, its because the eye worms hate the light and are rushing to burrow back around my eyelash follicle. I can’t see them – not without a really strong magnifying glass or microscope, but I know they’re there. I read it on the internet. Which makes it true.
This is the problem with staying up all night to finish proofing a book. You take little “Google surf” breaks, randomly roaming around online where you end up learning stuff you really didn’t want to learn. Seeing things no woman with worm infested eyelashes should ever have to see. I don’t know how it happened, but I discovered this awful truth. And before you make a YUCK face and leap away from me when you see me in a public place because you’re worried my eyelash worms might infest your perfect eyelashes, let me be the one to tell you – YOU have funky nasty creepy mite worms living on your eyelashes too. So there. Everybody does.
I was not happy to find out at 2am about my eyes hosting creatures that look like they belong in a Alien movie. My skin crawled thinking about them and I wanted to vomit. I wanted a cure right away. Thankfully, Google had the answer. Tea tree oil. Dilute it to a certain percentage and then wash your eyes with it. Do that twice a day, every day and the worms die a miserable death. You’ll know it worked when you wake up in the morning with decidedly less itchy, watery eyes.
I could not live another minute knowing I was living, sleeping, eating and looking with such vermin. Luckily, we had tea tree oil. I got it, mixed it with a bit of water – but not too much because I wanted to Super-Size that extermination process dammit. (And because I’ve never been good at chemistry. Or math. Or following instructions. So calculating the recommended percentage of tea tree oil to the necessary amount of water seemed like too much of a difficult thing to do at 2am. Besides, there were freakin CREATURES burrowing in my eyelashes at that precise moment and they needed to DIE DIE DIE. Like, RIGHT AWAY.)
I put the stuff on my right eye first. Yeah, take that you sicko suckers. (I may have said a few far more inappropriate words then that because the kickass heroes in the killer action movies always say words that start with F when they’re killing things.)
I felt a light tingling sensation. I thought about worm mites writhing in agony as they died and I was happy.
And then somebody shoved a burning stick into my eye. And twisted it around. Viciously. I yelled. Turned the tap on and shoved my eye under cold water. Somebody poured gasoline in my eye and set it on fire. I yelled some more. I cried. I washed my eye. I cried some more. I said bad words.
Finally, after much prolonged suffering and fears I would never regain my sight in my right eye – the fiery pain stopped and I saw the light.
Apparently, even if you’ve got an eyelash worm infestation, it’s a very bad idea to stick tea tree oil in your eye. Unless you’ve diluted the tea tree oil correctly. These are things you learn at 2am. When you’ve spent too much time on Google looking at pictures of disgusting creatures. And not enough time reading the instructions for killing aforementioned disgusting creatures.
The next morning, my right eye was decidedly less itchy and watery than the left one. I think. It felt invigorated and cleansed and sparkly. It could be because I killed off lots of eyelash worms.
Or because the tea tree oil burnt away a layer of my eyeball. In an invigorating, cleansing and sparkly way.
Soon, I hope to be brave enough to kill eyelash worms in my left eye.
Because I care about my loyal readers, and because I don’t want you to think I’m a big, fat liar – I have provided you with some information about eyelash mites. It could change your life. OR just make you feel sick. Just don’t read it at 2am in the morning.
Demodex folliculorum, or the demodicid also known as the eyelash mite, is a tiny mite, less than 0.4 mm long, that lives in pores and hair follicles, usually on the nose, forehead, cheek, and chin, and often in the roots of eyelashes. (A follicle is the pore from which a hair grows). It is not really a parasite since it lives on dead skin cells and secretions, but overgrowth of them can cause irritation. Demodicids have a wormlike appearance, with legs that are mere stumps. People with oily skin, or those who use cosmetics heavily and don’t wash thoroughly, have the heaviest infestations … but most adults carry a few demodicids. Inflammation and infection often result when large numbers of these mites congregate in a single follicle.
The mites live head-down in a follicle, feeding on secretions and dead skin debris. At the left, you can see seven demodicids buried in the follicle of a hair, and you can also see the hair’s shaft. If too many mites have buried into the same follicle, it may cause the eyelash to fall out easily.
An individual female may lay up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, and as the mites grow, they become tightly packed. When mature, the mites leave the follicle, mate, and find a new follicle in which to lay their eggs. The whole cycle takes between 14 to 18 days.