Recently I have seen an inaccurate news report circulating and it claims that lashes are leading to an increase in people getting lash lice. I wanted to clear up some of the confusion on this issue so people can rest easy and continue to enjoy their beautiful eyelash extensions. (I know I won’t be giving mine up anytime soon!)
The article stated that lash lice are caused from improper hygiene. What this report is actually addressing has nothing to do with lash lice and is rather speaking about Demodex (lash mites). First of all, neither lash lice or Demodex are “caught” by having eyelash extensions, and secondly, there is a huge difference between the two maladies.
Let’s start with lash lice. Lice are a parasite that feed on blood. The medical term for lash lice is phthiriasis palpebrarum, which in all reality are pubic lice (aka Crabs). They commonly get into the lash line from contact by hand from the genital area to the lash line. (As horrible as this sounds, they are probably transmitted while sleeping.)
So if you end up with lash lice you should probably have your doctor check you for crabs as well, because it is very likely where they came from. Lash lice live on the skin of the eyelid and on the base of the lash line, and lay their eggs near the base of the lashes. This would cause symptoms such as a tickling sensation, itching, eye redness, lashes sticking to one another, and excessive watering. If you have any of these symptoms, please see your GP or Optometrist as they will have the best treatment options available for you.
Now let’s talk about lash mites. Demodex (aka Lash mites) are microscopic organisms found in all mammals. They feed on sebum, oils, buildup, and dead skin. Mites are invisible to the naked eye and are quite common. They should not cause irritation unless a buildup from poor hygiene occurs. A buildup can cause symptoms such as itching, flaking, and irritation.
Mites live in the hair follicles and come out at night to breed in the lash line. Because they live in the hair follicles a larger than normal number of mites living in the follicles can actually cause the hair to loosen, leading to lash loss. This happens with or without eyelash extensions. The factor that causes too many lash mites is poor hygiene, NOT lash extensions. This being said, eyelash extensions can create a perfect environment for excessive bacteria buildup, if not properly cared for.
Finally, let’s address lash hygiene with lash extensions. It is a common misconception that washing your eyelash extensions will cause them to fall out faster. True we don’t want to be aggressively scrubbing them off with a facecloth, but washing them gently with a lash safe cleanser is important in keeping up with your lash hygiene. Aftercare is an integral part of maintaining beautiful lashes, and as long as it’s done with care you won’t lose your extensions any more than you normally shed.
Please discuss aftercare with your technician and ask them if they carry an extension safe eyewash along with any tools they might recommend to make the process easier. Washing your lash line will actually lead to longer retention. Not washing the lash line while wearing lash extensions can create the perfect environment for creepy crawly microscopic bacteria to form a community in our lash line, because the application of the extensions create a sort of shelf, if you will, where oils, salts, and sebum can buildup, break down the adhesive, and invite an infestation. Keep in mind that our lashes are there to protect our eyes from oils and debris, so keep those lash lines clean and healthy while continuing to enjoy the beauty and convenience of eyelash extensions without any of the worry.