In today's bizarre health news, a woman in China reportedly found more than 100 mites living in her eyelashes after not washing her pillowcase for five years.
The Sun reports that the woman, Xu, had been experiencing these symptoms for more than two years before finally seeking medical help. Turns out, she had been treating her itchiness with over-the-counter eye drops. But last month her eyelids became so swollen that she couldn't open her eyes.
After a trip to the hospital, doctors found and removed over 100 mites living in her eyelashes, with one single eyelash holding as many as 10. Xu's official diagnosis was blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid) and conjunctivitis, for which doctors prescribed medication. They also sent her home with one piece of important advice: Wash your bedding regularly.
There are several reasons why it's important to wash your pillowcases. For starters, sleeping on the oils from your hair and skin over and over again can clog your pores, causing breakouts. Secondly, mites feed on dead skin cells (yum), which collect on your pillowcase if you don't wash it.
"Getting dust mites on your eyelashes almost always boils down to lack of hygiene," Randy McLaughlin, O.D., assistant professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Shape. "This case is a great reminder to frequently wash your bedding, towels, makeup brushes, and whatever else comes in close contact with your eyes." (Related: How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes in 3 Easy Steps)
Cleaning your eyes more frequently might help, too. "If you're experiencing itchy eyelids for whatever reason, I recommend using a no-tear baby shampoo. Just dip a Q-tip into the formula, and clean your eyelids and the area around your eyelashes. This will help kill any dust mites, if there are any, and remove any foreign microorganisms that might be causing you discomfort."
Finally and perhaps most importantly, even if you think you have perfectly healthy eyes, you should still pay your eye specialist a visit. Your eye exam can say a lot about your health, and it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your sight.