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Lash lice: Eye doctors warn that eyelash extensions could be breeding ground for lice

Posted at 5:37 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 17:37:19-05

(WXYZ) — In our Health Alert tonight, "lash lice" found in eyelash extensions are on the rise. Eye doctors are warning women about tiny parasites that could be lurking in those thick long lashes.

Lash lice are not the same as head lice, in fact the scientific term for this parasite is called Demodex folliculorum. It’s actually a type of mite that can be found on the face, where it lives in or near your hair follicles, feeding off dead skin cells, oils and hormones. And they particularly love eyelids and lashes.

Now it’s not uncommon to have these parasites living on you. You just can’t see them because they’re so tiny. But for the most part, they’re harmless. Unless of course, you have a lot of them.

These mites can leave visible dander and debris on these types of lashes. And women can suffer from chronic inflammation and irritation like itchiness and redness.

Now the cause is likely due to not washing the eyelash extensions. Because this popular beauty trend is not cheap, women are afraid that touching them will make the lashes fall out. So dirt and debris can pile up, helping mites to grow. And not cleaning the eyelashes can lead to an increase in bacteria, which could potentially lead to an infection.

First of all it’s really important to clean your lash extensions not just because of the potential irritating symptoms, but also because Demodex can easily be transferred to other people. So please wash your lashes on a daily basis, using a tea tree-based cleanser at the base of the lashes. If that doesn’t help, optometrists can do deep cleanings. And if you’re an avid fan of these, it’s also a good idea to take a break from them every now and then as well.