A woman in China is making news for having parasites in her eyelashes.
Identified only as "Ms. Xu," the woman was found to have more than 100 eyelash mites, reports the Daily Mail.
The date of the discovery was not disclosed, but it reportedly occurred in the town of Wuhan, in the central Chinese province of Hubei.
That's where the patient informed doctors that she had been suffering from itchy, red eyes for two years.
She said that she was treating the itchiness with over-the-counter eye drops, but the problem suddenly worsened, and her eyelids got stuck together from all the gunk on her eyelashes.
Upon examination, doctors found the parasites that were causing the problem. One single follicle was reportedly home to a colony of ten eyelash mites.
When the doctors inquired about her household hygiene, she admitted to having not washed her pillowcase since 2012.
They concluded that the proliferation of mites was due to a combination of the unwashed pillowcases, plus a lack of air flow in the woman's bedroom.
She was diagnosed with blepharitis and conjunctivitis.
As noted by the Mayo Clinic website, Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids, caused when oil glands located near the base of the eyelashes become clogged. Conjunctivitis, also known as "pink eye," is the inflammation or infection of the membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eyeball.
According to Dr. Arthur Tucker, principal clinical scientist in the vascular unit of St. Bartholomew's hospital in London, up to a third of the weight of a pillow could consist of bugs, dead skin, and house dust mites, the Daily Mail reported in 2011.
Tucker warned that a clean pillowcase is not enough. "People put a clean pillowcase on and it looks and smells nice and fresh but you are wrapping up something really nasty underneath," he said.
Duncan Bain, technical director of Irish pillow manufacturer Gabriel Scientific, added: "If you had to come up with a medium to cultivate bacteria … a pillow is pretty much as good as you can get. It is a wet sponge that absorbs bodily fluids of various kinds providing nutrients. It is kept at the ideal temperature by the warm body lying on top."
However, bacteriologist Hugh Pennington cautions against placing too much blame on pillows. "There is plenty of opportunity to spread bugs partner to partner without pillows," he said.
As for Xu, she reportedly made a full recovery after treatment, though the nature of the treatment was not disclosed.