Have you recently been experiencing a somewhat inexplicable amount of eyelash loss? Are you concerned there might be an underlying medical condition contributing to this loss? Similar to other human body hair, eyelashes experience a regular cycle of loss and growth, a shedding of older lashes as new growth replaces them, but in rare cases this natural cycle can be interrupted or hindered by certain medical conditions, causing your eyelash hairs to fall out much more rapidly, with no new growth to take their place. To help further explain this phenomenon, in this article we will outline some of the potential medical causes for the eyelash loss, including some of the accompanying symptoms.
Potential Medical Causes for Eyelash Loss
Besides being coveted by women for aesthetic reasons, long eyelashes play an important role in protecting our eyes from dirt and airborne toxins. Consequently, when they begin to fall out at a faster-than-normal rate, it may be cause for concern. While there are many benign causes for the irregular eyelash loss, causes such as age, heredity and even rubbing the eyes too frequently, there are also several medical conditions that could potentially precipitate this condition. Some of these conditions include:
- Ciliary Madarosis/Blepharitis. The medical term for loss of the eyelash hairs is ciliary madarosis, a symptom caused by an underlying medical condition called blepharitis. Blepharitis can best be defined as inflammation of the lashes follicles along the base of the eyelids. This inflammation can be brought on by allergies or infection, with symptoms that may include red, irritated eyelids that become scaly, itchy and crusted; swollen eyelids; sensitivity to light; a burning sensation in the eyelids; and, of course, loss of the eyelash hairs. Blepharitis, while certainly serious, is completely treatable, so if you suspect you may be suffering from this condition it is recommended you see a physician as soon as possible.
- Alopecia Areata. Alopecia areata is a loss of the lashes that is normally accompanied by hair loss on other parts of the body as well. This condition, which also must be treated by a doctor, is usually brought on when the immune system begins attacking the eyelash hair follicles.
- Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a medical/hormonal condition in which the thyroid gland fails to make enough thyroid hormone. Besides causing loss of eyelash hairs, the disease may also include symptoms such as lethargy, depression, fatigue, sensitivity to cold and constipation. Hypothyroidism can be treated by your doctor, and once hormonal balance is achieved your lashes will generally grow back.
- D. Follicular Eyelash Loss. Loss of hairs can also be caused by D. Follicular, a tiny mite that can cause the hair follicles in the eyelash to become inflamed and/or infected.
- Allergic Reactions. Allergic reactions are among the primary causes for eyelash loss. Allergies to certain environmental toxins and pollutants, along with chemicals found in products like mascara, eyeliner and skin products, can inflame the hair follicles, causing the lashes to fall out prior to being pushed out naturally by their new replacements.
While loss of the eyelash hairs, especially as you age, is usually no cause for great concern, in certain instances this premature shedding can be a signal of something more serious and should be examined by a qualified physician at the first sign of symptoms. There have been many instances where a routine check up for one ailment has thrown up a much more serious problem elsewhere. It is always best to ascertain the causes of eyelash loss to ensure that there are no underlying problems.
Eyelash loss – to reiterate, if it’s persistent, seek medical advice.
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