We may long for thicker eyelashes from time to time, but we rarely give them much thought otherwise. That is until we see several at a time fall out. At which point, panic sets in.
Our eyelashes, like the hair on our head, go through phases of growth, rest, and shedding. But when the shedding becomes more pronounced, it can be a sign of an underlying condition, like an autoimmune disease.
If you’re experiencing something new with your hair or skin, it’s always a good idea to get checked out by a board-certified dermatologist. It could be related to a moment in time. But it could also be related to a medical issue. We can rule out any treatable causes.
In the meantime, here are a few possible reasons why you’re suddenly losing more lashes than usual.
Shedding is a normal response to a surge in stress, and that includes eyelashes. This type of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. Stress, both physical (think illness or surgery) and emotional, can trigger more hairs than usual to enter the telogen, or resting phase of the growth cycle, which can leave your scalp, brows, and eyelashes looking thinner.
An underlying medical condition
Missing patches of eyelashes can be a sign of an autoimmune condition called alopecia areata, which causes inflammation at the hair follicle that results in hair or lash loss. Alopecia can occur as a result of hormonal or endocrine shifts, particularly if your thinning feels constant and isn’t clearly related to stress or behavior.
Inflammation or infection
An infection along the eyelash line, like a stye, can cause significant inflammation that can result in the sudden, pronounced shedding of lashes. If you experience tenderness and swelling in that area, see a dermatologist. They can provide a treatment that will lessen your symptoms and prevent further lash loss.
Eye makeup and cleansers can also cause inflammation along the eyelash line, even if you aren’t prone to reactions anywhere else on your body. That’s because the skin around our eyes is extremely sensitive. So be very selective about the products you use in that area and how you apply them.
More specifically, go easy when you wash your face. Yes, it’s necessary. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be done aggressively. Try gently patting your eyes with a towel when you’re done, rather than rubbing them. Your lashes will be better off because of it, as will the skin around your eyes that’s prone to wrinkling.
And make sure you’re using an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup.