- Eyelashes fall out and grow back every six to 10 weeks, so losing a few lashes a day is normal.
- But if you notice your eyelashes falling out in clumps, it could be a condition like alopecia.
- You can help promote eyelash growth by trying eyelash serums like Latisse.
Finding a stray eyelash on your cheek or your pillow can seem alarming and leave you wondering if those lost hairs will grow back. But just like the hair on your head, eyelashes fall out and grow back as part of a natural cycle every six to 10 weeks.
Losing the occasional eyelash is normal, but there are some medical conditions, like a thyroid disorder, that can cause eyelashes to fall out excessively. Some medical treatments, like chemotherapy, may also cause eyelashes to fall out.
In most cases, eyelashes will grow back on their own, but for those who would like to speed up the process, there are treatments that can help.
Is it natural for eyelashes to fall out?
It is common and normal for eyelashes to fall out and most people will shed between one and five lashes a day, says Dr. Michele Green, a cosmetic dermatologist with a private practice.
“Everyone is born with a predetermined number of hair follicles and each individual eyelash is programmed to grow until a certain length and then fall off,” Green says. This is part of a normal cycle that consists of the following three phases:
1. The growth phase (also known as the anagen phase). During this phase the eyelashes grow to their predetermined limit, Green says. This phase usually lasts about 30 to 45 days.
2. The transition phase (also known as the catagen phase). During this phase the hair follicles begin to shrink as the eyelashes are done growing, Green says. This phase can last about two to three weeks.
3. The resting/shedding phase (also known as the telogen phase). This is the last phase of the cycle and is when new hair begins to grow from the hair follicle, Green says. As the new eyelash grows, the old hair falls off and the new strand will continue to grow in its place, then the cycle starts over again. This last phase can last anywhere from four to eight weeks.
It typically takes about two months for eyelashes to grow back to their full length after falling out, but this can vary from person to person, Green says.
It’s also important to note that not all your eyelashes are in the same phase of the growth cycle at the same time, which is why you don’t see all your eyelashes falling out at once, Green says.
However, if you are experiencing excessive eyelash loss in which your eyelashes are falling out in clumps, especially if this is accompanied by hair loss on the scalp or anywhere else on the body, consult with a dermatologist who can help you determine if you have an underlying medical condition that is contributing to hair loss.
Medical conditions that cause eyelashes to fall out
While losing a handful of eyelashes a day is normal, there are some medical conditions that can cause more excessive and noticeable eyelash loss. These include:
1. Alopecia: This is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles, which can result in hair loss on the scalp, body, or face, including the eyelashes. Treatment for alopecia can vary depending on your age, where you are experiencing hair loss, and how much hair you have lost. In general, treatment may include topical medications or corticosteroid injections.
2. A thyroid disorder: The thyroid is a gland in the neck that controls your body’s hormones and plays an essential role in the development and maintenance of hair follicles, Green says. Any thyroid dysfunction whether it be hyperthyroidism (too many hormones) or hypothyroidism (too few hormones) can result in hair loss, including loss of eyelashes. Treatment for a thyroid disorder will depend on the type of thyroid disorder you have and may include medication or surgery.
3. Irritation from makeup: Some people may experience an allergic reaction to some makeup products, like mascara or false eyelash glue. Inflammation from an allergic reaction can cause eyelashes to fall out. Rubbing or scratching itchy eyes that are irritated from makeup can also result in eyelash loss.
4. Blepharitis. This is a condition characterized by inflammation of the eyelids and eyelashes. It can cause your eyes to become red, irritated, and itchy and may also result in eyelash loss or abnormal growth, Green says. There is no cure for this condition, but treatment, like applying a warm compress or using eye drops, can help ease symptoms.
5. Skin cancer. Localized lash loss can be a symptom of skin cancer on the eyelid, says Emily Wood, MD, a dermatologist with Westlake Dermatology. As harmful cancer cells spread, the natural eyelash growth cycle can be disrupted, resulting in eyelash loss and permanent destruction of hair follicles. Treatment most often includes surgery to remove tumors and reconstruct the eyelid.
Regardless of the reason for your hair loss, your eyelashes should grow back as long as the hair follicles and internal hair structures are intact, Green says. However, if the hair follicles are damaged, as can be the case with skin cancer, eyelash loss may be permanent.
How to promote eyelash growth
In most cases, eyelashes will grow back on their own, but there are some ways to promote growth and speed up the process. These include:
- Latisse: This is a prescription eyelash growth treatment that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You apply Latisse along the lash line of the upper eyelid and it works by lengthening the hair growth period to make eyelashes longer, thicker, and more abundant, Green says. There are some side effects with this treatment, like dry and itchy eyes, so discuss with a board-certified dermatologist or an ophthalmologist to determine if this treatment is right for you.
- Eyelash serums: Latisse is the only growth serum currently approved by the FDA, but you can find over-the-counter eyelash serums in drug stores that claim to have similar effects. Before trying an eyelash serum, discuss your options with a dermatologist or an ophthalmologist who can review the ingredients and help guide you toward the safest and most effective options.
- Be gentle with your eyes: Frequent use of mascara and eyelash glue can dry out your eyelash hair and damage or clog your eyelash hair follicles, Green says. Excessive rubbing or pulling of your eyes also puts physical stress on your eyelashes and can cause them to fall out. Carefully rub around your eyes when washing your face and try to keep the use of eyelash products to a minimum.
Losing the occasional eyelash is normal, but there are some medical conditions, like a thyroid disorder, that can cause eyelashes to fall out excessively.
If you are noticing excessive eyelash loss, consult with a dermatologist who can help determine if you have an underlying medical condition that is causing hair loss.
In most cases, eyelashes will grow back on their own, but for those who would like to speed up the process, there are treatments that can help, including prescription or over-the-counter eyelash growth serums.