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Use of eyelash extensions may lead to infections and loss of one’s natural lashes- Straits Times

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Cleaning your eyelash extensions prevents infections, skin irritation and even the growth of lash mites.

Cleaning your eyelash extensions prevents infections, skin irritation and even the growth of lash mites. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

SINGAPORE – When freelance social media manager Charlene Leow woke up one day in June2022 with a red and itchy left eye, she was worried. The 30-year-old also felt a tingly sensation in her right eye.

She had worn her false eyelashes to sleep for six consecutive days instead of removing them.

A doctor who examined her told her she had blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelids. It was likely caused by a build-up of bacteria on her eyelids and the lack of hygiene in caring for her false eyelashes.

Ms Leow was given an antibiotic ointment and lubricating eye drops, and recovered in two weeks.

Eye doctors tell The Straits Times that issues related to the prolonged use of extensions also include moderate to severe dry eyes, clogging of the eyelid’s oil glands, and corneal ulcers or infections.

Dr Jayant V Iyer, senior consultant and medical director at The Straits Eye Centre, has seen a handful of cases of eyelid irritation or disease that were aggravated by the use of eyelash extensions and false eyelashes in the past year.

Among them is contact dermatitis, which is an inflammatory reaction of the skin, typically to the glue used to stick the fake lashes, and blepharitis, which can come about due to the entrapment of debris around longer eyelashes.


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Keratoconjunctivitis is another condition that can occur, he notes. It is an inflammatory reaction of the cornea and conjunctiva to eyelash extensions or glue that might have got onto the surface of the eye, says Dr Iyer. The conjunctiva is a thin mucous membrane that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the surface of the eye, whereas the cornea is the transparent part that covers the front portion and pupil of the eye.

Dr Iyer once had a patient who complained about the sensation of a foreign body in her left eye. “She thought that a part of her contact lens might have been stuck there. Her left eye was red and tearing,” he says. But on examining her eye, Dr Iyer found that an artificial eyelash had been dislodged and had caused a small abrasion in the eye. She also had blepharitis in both eyes. The treatment involved the removal of the dislodged eyelash, topical antibiotics and advice on caring for her eyelids if she intended to continue using eyelash extensions, adds Dr Iyer.

Dr Iyer of The Straits Eye Centre says a gentle warm water scrub at the eyelash margins, done with the eyes closed, should help clear any debris that may collect and prevent blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelids. If an allergy or infection sets in, consult an eye doctor to get appropriate treatment and have the eyelash extensions removed, says Dr Iyer.

He also advises those who use eyelash extensions and false eyelashes to ensure that formaldehyde-free glue is applied. Glues containing that chemical have been known to cause contact dermatitis and allergic reactions, he says.

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