Why Are My Eyelashes Falling Out? 14 Causes and Conditions
Noticing that your eyelashes are starting to disappear can be upsetting, to say the least. Maybe you’ve noticed that lashes come off when you take off your makeup, or perhaps there are visible gaps in your lash line. Experiencing any of this should prompt you to ask: Why are my eyelashes falling out?
Our lashes frame our eyes and keep them safe from debris and dust. If you suddenly lose more eyelashes than normal, you’re absolutely right to be concerned. It could be a sign of a major underlying health condition, or it could just be a signal that you’re a little too rough with your lashes. In this post, we’ll cover the potential reasons eyelashes fall out so you can discover the underlying cause and fix the issue.
Table of Contents
- Is It Normal To Lose Eyelashes?
- Why You're Losing More Lashes Than Usual?
- When Should You See A Doctor About Lash Loss?
Is It Normal To Lose Eyelashes?
Losing a few lashes per day is totally normal. The hair all over our bodies, including our lashes, has a life cycle. At the end of the life cycle, a hair or lash will fall off on its own, and a new one will start to grow in its place.
Lash loss stops normal when you consistently lose more than five lashes a day and start seeing visible thinning along your lash line. Other signs of concern include losing lashes from both eyes or experiencing additional symptoms.
Why You're Losing More Lashes Than Usual
There are so many potential reasons you might be losing eyelashes at an increased rate. Understanding why it’s happening is key to solving the issue, so here are all of the possible underlying causes:
1. Eye Makeup
The most common reason for lash loss is friction and pulling from makeup, especially during the mascara removal process. Research shows that the more often one wears mascara, the greater the likelihood of lash loss. According to the study, the greatest damage comes from trying to wash off waterproof mascaras with water.
Other practices, like rubbing the eyes while wearing mascara, pulling false eyelashes off without breaking down the adhesive, or using a lash curler incorrectly, can also be problematic.
Aside from makeup, other forms of friction can lead to lash loss. Anything that exerts pressure on your lashes may cause them to fall out prematurely. This includes sleeping on your stomach with your face pressed against the pillow, rubbing your eyes when tired, and more. Breaking such habits can be difficult, but it’s worth the effort. Your lashes will recover quickly once the friction stops.
Blepharitis is the medical term for eyelid inflammation. Its main symptoms are eyelid pain, itchiness, and crusting, often with some redness and swelling. Lash loss can also be one of its symptoms.
This condition is usually chronic, but it can also crop up temporarily as a reaction to external irritants or pathogens, including bacterial infections, mites, allergens, and more. Most treatment includes washing the eyes and lashes regularly with gentle, eye-safe cleansers like the Lilac Lash Bath kit.
4. Other Eye or Skin Conditions
Many other health conditions impact the skin or eyes and may lead to losing eyelashes. This includes inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea and styes that can impact the eyes or eyelids. Allergic contact dermatitis can also lead to lash loss, especially if the reaction is to something near the lash line, like lash glue or eyeliner.
Certain auto-immune conditions cause skin inflammation, such as psoriasis and lupus. They may cause lash loss if the inflammation impacts the eye area. You’ll have other noticeable symptoms besides eyelash loss with any of these conditions.
5. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is an auto-immune condition that may cause lashes to fall out. During a flare, the immune system attacks the hair or lash follicles, causing thinning, bald patches, or total bareness.
This condition can show up at any point in life. While the hair will often grow back within a year, hair loss can recur on and off for the rest of a person's life. There are a lot of treatments and medications that may help with the symptoms, but there is no known cure.
6. Major Hormonal Fluctuations
Hormones, especially our sex and thyroid hormones, play a big role in regulating the hair growth cycle. Major hormonal fluctuations can disrupt or change the process, forcing many of the lashes into the telogen (i.e., resting and shedding) phase all at once, leading to sudden and excessive hair and lash loss.
This is most common after pregnancy, during menopause, or after stopping medications that impact hormones. The hair and lashes normally resume normal function once the body finds its hormonal equilibrium. If it doesn’t, it could be a sign of a more severe endocrinological disorder.
7. Cancer Treatment
Those undergoing cancer treatments, and especially chemotherapy, commonly experience eyelash loss, along with loss of hair from the head and brows. Chemotherapy treatment works by attacking any growing cells, including the cells making hair in your lash and hair follicle. Hair and lashes normally start to grow back within a few weeks post-treatment, although they might not have the same texture or color as they did prior to chemo.
8. Thyroid Disorders
Since thyroid hormones play a big role in supporting healthy hair growth, hair and lash loss are often associated with thyroid disorders.
Hypothyroidism (i.e., underproduction of thyroid hormones) is the most common thyroid disorder that’s associated with lash loss, but hyperthyroidism (i.e., overproduction of thyroid hormones) can also cause issues, as can other related health conditions like Hashimoto’s disease.
Once the underlying hormonal imbalance is treated, hair and lash growth will usually return to normal.
9. Eyelid Cancer
Lash loss can be a symptom of eyelid cancer, usually along with other visible changes to the lash line, such as discolored growths or lesions that won’t heal. Treatment is complex and requires doctors with multiple specialities. It’s important to seek medical care early since it becomes much tougher to treat as the disease progresses.
10. Nutritional Deficiencies
When your body is missing out on key nutrients, it can’t properly repair and renew itself, which can result in hair and lash thinning. Eyelash loss correlates most strongly with protein and biotin deficiencies.
Trichotillomania (or trich for short) is a mental health condition that leads to hair or lash pulling. It’s often accompanied by stress, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. This condition makes it nearly impossible to resist the urge to pull out hair, often leading to bald patches or total eyelash loss. It’s very hard to deal with trichotillomania alone, so speak to your doctor about treatment.
12. Poor Lash Extension Application or Removal
If you’re a fan of lash extensions, paying attention to signs that the application or removal is causing your lash loss is important. Improper application techniques, such as attaching one extension to several lashes, can pressure your natural lashes, causing them to fall off.
Removing your lash extensions incorrectly can also result in pulling out your natural lashes. Consider DIY lash extensions, which are easier to apply and remove by yourself at home.
13. Poor Lash Hygiene
Failing to keep your lashes clean can result in lash loss. Dust, mites, and bacteria can irritate the lash line, leading to inflammation or clogged glands (i.e., styes). Any of these can result in damage to the lash follicles.
This is why washing your lashes and removing makeup completely at the end of the day is important. It’s also key to pay attention to the expiry dates on your makeup products - especially mascara.
It's normal to experience lash shedding during periods of extreme stress (as well as regular hair loss). Stress spikes the cortisol levels in the body, pushing hair and lashes into the telogen phase. This is most likely to occur due to long-term stress over weeks or months.
When Should You See A Doctor About Lash Loss?
Some of the health conditions that lead to lash loss are quite severe. If your lashes are falling out, you may need to consult your doctor on an appropriate treatment plan. Here are some signs that your situation merits medical treatment:
- Major signs of eyelid or eye irritation, such as redness, itchiness, pain, crustiness, or flakiness.
- You’re losing hair from other body parts, such as your eyebrows or head.
- You’re losing eyelashes at a rapid rate without an obvious underlying cause.
- You are experiencing any other physical or mental health symptoms that may or may not be related.
- You think you’re losing eyelashes as a result of a medical condition.
Wanting to know why your lashes are falling out makes perfect sense. There are so many different potential reasons. By understanding what’s going on with your lashes, you can fix the problem and grow your lashes back. In the case of underlying health issues, treating the real cause might give you a whole host of other health and beauty benefits.