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Eyelash Loss

Q: My upper eyelashes have been falling out a lot lately, and then growing back uneven and sparse. It's mostly in the middle of my eyelid, right where it's most noticeable, and no amount of mascara or curling makes my lashes look any better. My eye doctor is stumped, and I'm worried I'll wind up without any lashes at all. Is there anything I can do?

Dr. Donnica:
To begin with, resist the temptation to apply false eyelashes, although that might be your solution once an infection or irritation is ruled out. The medical term for the loss of eyelashes is madarosis. This condition is often due to blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelids, but if you went to an ophthalmologist, chances are s/he would have been able to diagnose that.

You didn't mention whether you've noticed hair loss anywhere else, such as the scalp. In that case, the eyelash loss may be part of a condition called alopecia areata. There are other possible causes too, ranging from rare hormonal problems (an under-active thyroid gland may case eyebrow loss) to unknowingly pulling your own eyelashes out as a nervous habit. I recommend consulting a dermatologist. If s/he says there's no infectious or inflammatory cause, then you can use false eyelashes until you see regrowth.

Created: 4/3/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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