So, file this one under “terrifying news about the human body” — eyelash mites are apparently a thing, and they can grow on your lids simply from sleeping on dirty pillowcases. You may want to stop reading here if you’re a bit squeamish about germs (and about your eyes), because this story is not for the faint of heart. Here’s what happened — according to The Sun, a woman got eyelash mites after sleeping on a dirty pillow for far too long.
The woman, referred to in the article only as Xu, apparently suffered from red and itchy eyes for two years before even visiting her doctor, and had been treating the itchiness with over-the-counter eye drops. According to The Sun, she’d grown used to the uncomfortable feeling, but a visit to a doctor became necessary when her eyelids became so swollen she couldn’t open them. It was then that doctors found more than 100 mites living in her eyelashes. (Yes, you read that right.)
She told doctors she’d been sleeping on the same pillowcase since 2012 without washing it, and likely the combination of this plus the lack of airflow in her room had made her bedding a prime breeding ground for the little creatures. The mites were removed from her eyelashes and she was given medication for treatment.
Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told Allure, “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.” He also said, “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.” You heard it here, first — mites occur naturally, but providing a clean environment (like fresh pillowcases) will assure that they don’t overgrow and become a problem.
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