Skin Mite Infestation on Woman's Face May Have Been Caused by Natural Beauty Products

face rash

Natural beauty products like essentials oils and coconut oil are supposed to be a more gentle, toxin-free way to treat your skin. But are they? XO, Jane blogger Lindsey Toledo says when she swapped her usual skincare products out for "natural" products with essential oils she wound up with a rash on her cheek that wouldn't go away. That's because it wasn't just a rash -- it was something much worse.


Toledo tried everything she could to clear that rash but nothing worked. Finally, one doctor examined a skin sample under the microscope and figured it out: Toledo's skin was infested with skin mites called demodex. The little critters are found in just about everyone's skin (do NOT look them up on the Internet!) and aren't irritating. But in Toledo's case, her doctor told her, "You have more demodex than anyone I’ve ever seen. Your cheek is crawling with them."

Fortunately the doctor's treatment worked to rid Toledo of the infestation. But she suspects the essential oils in her natural skin products may have thrown off her skin's ecology, making her more vulnerable to a demodex infestation.

Can natural skincare products with essential oils really lead to a skin mites infestation? We asked three dermatologists what they think.

1. If your skin's not breathing, it could be breeding. First of all, says Dr. Josha Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, demodex mites are part of everyone's normal skin environment. It's just that some people have higher levels of it, and some people respond more to the mites than others.

"When our skin becomes very sweaty and oily, for example, in humid environments, it allows mites levels to rise on our skin," he says. "In some cases, occlusive cosmetics [agents that form a film or barrier on the skin] may predispose for this as well."

2. Other factors can contribute to a demodex rash. Dermatologist Dr. Melanie Palm agrees there could be a link between infestation and product ingredients. "Some products could be too emollient-based, and could cause you to reproduce more sebum, or become a catalyst for demodex growth." But she adds that she'd be interested to find out if Toledo has a family history of sensitivity to the mite, as that could also be a factor.

3. There seems to be a link between demodex and rosacea. Dr. Jessica Krant, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, suspects Toledo may have an overgrowth of demodex mites before switching to natural products. She notes that the infestation looks a lot like rosacea and that some dermatologists think the mites are actually the main cause of rosacea. "This is a relatively new area in dermatology, but I think understanding it will hold a lot of promise for helping our patients."

Did you know that everyone's skin has demodex? Have you ever had a skin rash like this one?


Image via Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock





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