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Eyelash Growth and Loss - An Overview

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People may lose their eyelashes for various reasons, from burns to chemotherapy. Read this article to learn more about it.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sandhya Narayanan Kutty

Published At November 3, 2023
Reviewed AtNovember 3, 2023

Introduction

Like the hair on the rest of the body, eyelashes can fall out but grow back. It may take a while, but eyelashes can grow back under normal circumstances. Sometimes, eyelashes can fall out as a result of an underlying condition. For example, if a medical issue causes lashes to fall, they may take longer. In some cases, they may not grow back at all.

How Do Eyelashes Grow?

Adults have around 100 to 150 upper and 50 to 75 lower lashes on each lid. Each eyelash typically goes through a growth cycle that includes three distinct growth phases,

  • Anagen Phase: Each eyelash has a growth phase called the anagen phase. After the telogen phase, the eyelashes fall out. Then, they grow in the anagen phase. This stage can take between four to ten weeks on average. Eyelashes usually rise slowly, from about 0.12 to 0.14 millimeters (mm) per day. They do not grow back right away. Instead, it takes many weeks for eyelashes to grow.

  • Catagen Phase: This is also known as the degradation phase. In this phase, the eyelashes have grown in and have not yet fallen out. They usually grow up to 12 mm.

  • Telogen Phase: Telogen phase is also referred to as the resting phase and lasts for four to nine months. It is the phase prior to the fall of an eyelash and the growth of a new lash. The complete lifecycle of an eyelash may take almost a year. However, it varies from person to person. It is common to lose a few eyelashes on most days, even if one does not notice them falling out.

What Causes Eyelashes Loss?

Eyelashes fall out due to a variety of reasons. Most eyelashes fall out naturally, like the hair on the rest of the body, but extensive eyelash loss has many other causes, including:

  • Alopecia Areata: This autoimmune condition causes the body's immune system to attack the hair follicles resulting in hair loss on the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes. It can be acute or chronic. Stressors like surgery, illness, and anemia can cause acute cases. In acute alopecia, eyelashes usually grow back. But people with chronic or long-term alopecia may experience permanent eyelash loss or slower eyelash regrowth.

  • Irritation: Allergic reactions to cosmetics and other skincare products can cause eye irritation, resulting in eyelash loss.

  • Blepharitis: This chronic condition results from blockage of oil glands present near the base of the eyelashes resulting in chronic inflammation that causes the eyelashes to fall out. People with blepharitis have eyelid swelling and redness.

  • Trichotillomania: This psychological condition causes an individual to pull out their eyelashes in response to stress. The eyelashes that have been removed may take a few months to grow back.

  • Thyroid Disorder: People with thyroid issues may experience various symptoms, including eyelash loss. Eyelash loss can happen with hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and hypothyroidism (too less thyroid hormone). In addition, the lashes often start growing back after treating the thyroid imbalance.

  • Medications: Some medications can cause side effects, including hair and eyelash loss. These medications include:

    1. Medications to treat thyroid conditions such as Carbimazole and Propylthiouracil.

    2. Anticonvulsants (anti-siezure).

    3. Anticoagulants (anti-clotting).

    4. Botulinum toxin injections.

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can lead to overall body hair loss, including eyelashes. If an individual uses a chemotherapy drug known to cause hair loss, it affects body hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. However, eyelashes typically grow back after stopping the chemotherapy.

  • Burns: According to the American academy of ophthalmology, if the eyelashes get burned, but the hair follicles are still intact, the eyelashes grow back in six weeks. However, if the hair follicles get damaged, in such cases, the eyelashes may not grow back.

  • Lash Extensions: These are fibers that are fixed onto the natural eyelashes with glue to create thicker and longer eyelashes. However, lash extensions can damage natural lashes. The natural eyelashes lost due to lash extensions typically grow back in a few months.

  • Stress: Emotional stress can cause hair follicles to fall or become thin.

  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Insufficiency of iron, vitamin B12, and biotin, can cause eyelash thinning and loss.

  • Chronic Inflammatory Conditions: Lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma are some chronic inflammatory conditions that can cause eyelash loss.

How to Encourage Eyelashes Growth?

Eyelash growth can be accelerated in several ways, including:

Eating a Healthy Diet: Good nutrition promotes eyelash growth and overall health. Some nutrients that may help eyelash production are:

  • Protein: Because the hair is mainly comprised of protein, a protein-rich diet is vital for hair growth. Protein provides amino acids to the body needed to produce keratin. Keratin has natural strengthening- properties that help eyelashes remain healthy and strong.

  • Biotin: Biotin also contributes to keratin production. It is mainly found in many foods, such as cauliflower, nut, broccoli, onions, and whole grains.

  • Fruits and Vegetables Containing Vitamins A and C: The fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins A and C help boost eyelash growth by promoting cell and collagen production. These fruits and vegetables include berries, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, and avocados.

  • Niacin (vitamin B3): Niacin helps improve blood flow to hair follicles and stimulates growth. Niacin is mainly found in chicken, fish, beef, turkey, peanuts, green peas, and avocados.

  • Iron: Lack of iron in the diet can cause eyelashes to go into their resting phase at one time. Taking an iron-rich diet can help prevent this. Food high in iron includes dark, green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, poultry, seafood, beans, and iron-fortified cereals.

Using Over-The-Counter Eyelash Conditioning Treatments: A wide range of eyelash growth serums, primers, and conditioning gels are available to get healthy, strong eyelashes. These over-the-counter products can be used alone or worn under makeup. In addition, some types of mascara also contain eyelash conditioners, like lipid or peptide complexes, which may help encourage lash growth.

Bimatoprost: This is a Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription medication that encourages eyelash growth by increasing the number of hair follicles in the growth phase. This topical medication helps grow thicker, long, and dark eyelashes in people with inadequate eyelashes. However, this drug can cause a few side effects, such as:

  • Dryness of the eyes.

  • Eye irritation.

  • Eye burning.

  • Eyelid pigmentation.

  • A feeling of something present in the eye.

  • Pain.

  • Vision problems.

How to Prevent Eyelash Loss?

Minor changes to daily habits can avoid excessive eyelash loss. These lifestyle changes include:

  • Gently remove makeup. Avoid rubbing the lashes, particularly when coated with mascara. Eyelashes coated with mascara are flakier and more likely to break. Gently remove the mascara using a gentle makeup remover.

  • Switch to a non-waterproof mascara that is easy to wash off.

  • Avoid using eyelash curlers. These devices can cause shedding of the eyelashes.

  • Gently and thoroughly remove false eyelashes and lash extensions. Because these products contain glue, removing the glue can take the lashes out along with it. Instead, use a mild, oil-based cleanser or let eyelash extensions fall off naturally.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Some nutritional deficiencies may cause hair loss and also affect the eyelashes.

Conclusion

Like the hair on the scalp, eyelashes follow a natural growth pattern and frequently fall out. It is normal for the eyelashes to fall, and they typically grow back without treatment. However, extensive eyelash loss can happen for several reasons if someone notices more hair loss than usual. First, it can be a matter of concern. See a doctor who knows the root cause of the eyelash loss and gets the proper treatment. Several lifestyle modifications and prescription medications can help speed up eyelash growth.

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Dr. Sandhya Narayanan Kutty
Dr. Sandhya Narayanan Kutty

Venereology

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eyelash growth and losseyelashes
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