Eyelash Extensions Can Be Breeding Grounds for Mites

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Eyelash extensions provide the long luscious lashes many women dream of — yet this hot beauty trend could have a downside if you’re not careful: mite infestations.

Eye surgeons are issuing warnings about fake eyelash applications after several women in Orlando sought treatment for painful infections.

The rash of mite infestations is likely related to women not properly washing their eyes for fear it will weaken the glue used to attach the fake lashes, says Amina Husain, MD, Premier Eye Surgeons. Eyelash extensions take hours to apply and can cost up to $3,000.

Microscopic Demodex mites are attracted to the oils that build up on our eyelashes. If the lashes remain dirty, the mites can overpopulate, causing inflammation and itchiness along the eyelids, says Dr. Husain. If infection sets in, a woman’s healthy, natural eyelashes may fall out and never regrow.

“If you think about the hair on your head, when you don’t wash it, it gets oily and greasy and over time you can get lice,” says Dr. Husain. “Some people don’t realize the eyelash hairs also need to be cleaned.”

Wearing eyelash extensions without washing them is just like sleeping in your make-up or using dirty make-up applicators.

While treatments are available, it can take three months to rid your body of the mites. Doctors recommend cleaning lashes with tea tree oil. Anti-parasitic medicines may be prescribed.

There are better ways to keep makeup safe, says Dr. Husain. Women who want fuller eyelashes should use mascara or fake eyelashes that can be removed each day.

For women whose eyelashes will not regrow because of an infection, eyelash transplants are an option. A surgeon takes individual hair follicles from the back of the head and transplants them in the eyelid.

“This is a safer way to do extensions,” Dr. Husain says. “It is your own natural hair that grows on its own and you can clean the area to keep it healthy.”