· A Chinese woman used the same pillowcase for 5 years.
· 100 mites were found living in her eyelashes.
· For the past 2 years, she had been self-treating herself.
· Eventually, she was unable to open her eyes.
A Chinese woman named Xu presented to the clinic with complaints of irritation in both her eyes and swollen eyelids bilaterally. Fourteen days earlier, she was unable to open her eyes.
Although the patient had been experiencing mild irritation, itching, and discomfort in her eyes for the past 2 years, she had never sought professional help; instead treated herself with over-the-counter eye drops. The discomfort had become part and parcel of life until 14 days earlier when the discomfort was more than usual, her eyelids had swollen and she was unable to open her eyes.
Finally, she sought professional help. She revealed that she hadn’t changed her pillowcase for over 5 years.
In the hospital, doctors found more than 100 mites dwelling in her eyelashes, with each lash holding 10 mites on average. Eyelash mite or Demodex folliculorum is a type of mite/parasite that lives on the face, particularly found in the hair follicles of the face.
A diagnosis of blepharitis and conjunctivitis was made. Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelids where pathogen and oily flakes dwell at the base of the lashes leading to swelling, redness, burning, and itching; and conjunctivitis is popularly known as ‘pink eye.’
Director of cosmetic and clinical research of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Joshua Zeichner, said:
“We do not want to think about it, but our bodies are full of bacteria and other microorganisms, like mites. Demodex mites live on our skin and are especially prominent in areas where we have a lot of oil, like the face or the middle of the chest. While not washing your pillowcase may create a dirty environment that allows mites to grow, you cannot ‘catch’ mites from the pillowcase. The mites live naturally on your skin, and the right conditions will allow the mites to overgrow.”
Eyelash mites were removed from Xu’s eyelashes, and she was treated for conjunctivitis with appropriate medications. She was educated and counseled regarding the importance of hygiene and was advised to wash her beddings regularly to avoid recurrence. Additionally, removing makeup prior to sleeping is also an indispensable step in hygiene maintenance. Especially, mascaras lead to pathogen growth.
According to a study, 50% of people in the United States have parasites due to lack of proper hygiene, including leaving the eye makeup on before sleeping.
According to the treating physicians, lack of hygiene and airflow in Xu’s room had provided a perfect habitat for the mites.
DiNuzzo, E. (2017, December 18). A woman found 100 mites living in her eyelashes — here’s how it could happen to you. Retrieved from Business Insider: http://static.businessinsider.com/woman-eyelash-mites-pillowcase-2017-12
DONAHUE, R. (2017, December 18). Woman Grew 100 Eyelash Mites From Sleeping on the Same Pillowcase For 5 Years. Retrieved from Allure: https://www.allure.com/story/eyelash-mites-dirty-pillowcase