Long, thick lashes are something most women want, and no wonder; dark, defined lashes make you look more awake, attractive, and even younger. But for people who suffer from a lack of eyelashes or eyelash loss, this desirable look is difficult to achieve.  The best approach to treating eyelash loss is to first determine the underlying cause.

Blepharitis, a common and persistent inflammation of the eyelids, and is one of the most frequently documented reasons for eyelash loss. Symptoms include irritation, itching and occasional red eyes. This condition commonly occurs in people who have oily skin, dandruff, or dry eyes.   In many individuals bacteria thrive on the skin at the base of the eyelashes.  The bacteria release toxins that can result in irritation and sometimes cause a change in the activity of eyelid oil glands, which causes dandruff-like scales and particles to form along the lashes and eyelid margins.  The oil glands then become clogged, resulting in eyelid inflammation and loss of eyelashes, or medically referred to as madarosis.

Madarosis can be caused by a variety of medical problems. For example, if you’re noticing thinning of the hair on your head and the appearance of bald patches along with eyelash loss, you may be suffering from alopecia, a medical condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles. Other medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, various hormonal imbalances, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus can also cause madarosis.  Nutritional disturbances such as protein deficiency or malnourishment seen in anorexic and bulimia patient’s can also be responsible for madarosis.

Another condition that is not uncommon and appears as sparse or absent lashes is called hypotrichosis.  Unlike madarosis, hypotrichosis is a term used to describe a condition of no hair growth. Unlike madarosis or alopecia, hypotrichosis describes a situation where there wasn’t any hair growth in the first place.

Lastly, a condition called Trichotillomania also results in eyelash loss.  This is a type of compulsive behavior where people feel an overwhelming urge to pull their lashes out. They do this when they are stressed as a way to soothe themselves.  They also may have other compulsive habits, such as nail biting or skin picking.  This condition can have an underlying cause of depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  Treating the underlying cause of the compulsive behavior with help from your physician or psychiatrist/psychologist is the best approach.

For several years now a drug originally used for glaucoma, bimatoprost, has been used for the treatment of hypotrichosis under the trade name of LATISSE.  Although the precise mechanism of action is unknown, the growth of eyelashes is believed to occur by increasing the percent of lashes and the duration of their growth phase. The drug is simply brushed on the lashes and or the lash line daily and after approximately 6 weeks of use results are apparent.  Maximum effect is at 12 weeks.  To maintain the lash growth LATISSE must be continued indefinitely.

If you are experiencing eyelash loss it is important to check with your Optometrist and rule out a condition that could simply be treated with topical eye drops or lid hygiene.  More importantly, your situation could be a more serious underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.

At Cockrell Eyecare Center our team of doctors has the experience to diagnose and treat eyelash loss.  If you have questions about your eye and vision health please call our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715, or in Pawnee, at 918-762-2573.  We also invite you to visit our website at www.cockrelleyecare.com and like us on Facebook!

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