Why Are My Eyelashes Falling Out?

Madarosis is the absence or loss of eyelashes. Madarosis is not a disease per se—it usually has an underlying cause. That is what we will try to figure out….what underlying condition is causing your eyelashes to fall out?

Eyelash hair grows at the rate of approximately 0.15 mm per day. An eyelash lasts for five to six months before falling out. After plucking, a new lash grows within about eight to ten weeks.

Eye Conditions That Can Cause Your Eyelashes to Fall Out

  • Blepharitis
    • Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid and eyelash follicle, which can cause redness, itching, and burning, and may in some cases lead to eyelashes falling out. Blepharitis may be caused by a variety of things, including allergies, parasitic infestation, or bacterial infection.
  • Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
    • A form of posterior blepharitis that affects the tear glands along the eyelids.
  • Demodex Blepharitis
    • Demodex are a variety of parasitic mites that live in the hair follicles of humans and other mammals. In some cases, their presence can cause irritation, and rubbing or scratching at this irritation may lead to eyelashes falling out. While this is a rare condition, and there is nothing the Demodex parasite does that directly causes the eyelashes to fall out, and it can be treated by your optometrist.

Dermatologic conditions that can cause madarosis:

  • Atopic dermatitis—an allergic disorder
  • Dermatitis or other skin disorders
  • Inflammation
  • Acne rosacea
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema

Other causes of madarosis:

  • Thyroid/hormone abnormalities/imbalances
  • Alopecia, a condition that causes hair to fall out
  • Carcinomas
  • Trauma
  • Trichotillomania—an obsessive, compulsive urge to pull hairs out (this is not limited to eyelashes)

Treatment for Your Eyelashes Falling Out

As explained above, madarosis is caused by an underlying condition, and therefore treatment plans must be determined according to the cause of the condition. For example, if madarosis is caused by blepharitis, the blepharitis must be treated and controlled to prevent further eyelash loss.

Currently there is one medication on the market that has been FDA approved for eyelash regrowth. Bimatoprost, which is sold under the brand name Latisse, was originally developed to treat glaucoma and ocular hypertension.

It promotes hair growth when applied to the eyelash/eyelid margin. Your eye doctor can prescribe Latisse if you are concerned about the appearance of your eyelashes.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Eyelashes Falling Out

  • Why are my eyelashes falling out? Is it possible there is some genetic cause?
  • Do I have eyelash mites? Are they harmful?
  • My child constantly pulls his eyelashes out; is it possible something is irritating his or her eyes, or do you think he or she should see a psychologist or psychiatrist?
  • Do you think Latisse or some other medication might stop my eyelashes from falling out?

Sources and References:
We have strict guidelines for each of our sources and references. We rely upon vision, eye and medical information from peer-reviewed studies, medical associations and academic research institions.
  • The Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/latisse/expert-answers/FAQ-20058367 https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/bimatoprost-ophthalmic-route/description/DRG-20062270
  • The National Institute of Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6725680 https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/autosomal-recessive-hypotrichosis
  • The American Hair Loss Association https://www.americanhairloss.org/types_of_hair_loss/congenital_hypotrichosis.asp https://www.americanhairloss.org/types_of_hair_loss/alopecia_areata.asp https://www.americanhairloss.org/types_of_hair_loss/infectious_agents.asp
  • Dawber, Rodney P. R.; Van Neste, Dominique (2004). Hair and scalp disorders: common presenting signs, differential diagnosis and treatment (2nd ed.). Informa Health Care. pp. 53–54.
  • Christenson GA, Crow SJ (1996). "The characterization and treatment of trichotillomania". The Journal of clinical psychiatry. 57 Suppl 8: 42–7; discussion 48–9.
  • Christenson GA, Crow SJ (1996). "The characterization and treatment of trichotillomania". The Journal of clinical psychiatry. 57 Suppl 8: 42–7; discussion 48–9.
  • The National Center for Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3358936/