What is an ingrown eyelash?
An ingrown eyelash or trichiasis is a condition when the eyelashes grow in an inside direction instead of growing outside the eyes. To be more precise the eyelashes grow backward towards the eyes instead of growing away from it. As the ingrown eyelashes grow, it may cause a lot of discomfort and irritation in the eyes as well as the eyelids. An ingrown eyelid is more common in adults than children and it may occur on either side of the eyelid, i.e., upper or lower eyelid.
Causes of ingrown eyelashes
Ingrown eyelashes may be caused due to various factors like inflammation, trauma, misalignment or any other issues with the eyelid. If the ingrown hair is not treated on time, it may cause damage to the eyes. A person may lose eyesight in severe cases of chronically ingrown eyelashes. Some of the common causes of ingrown eyelashes are stated below:
- Blepharitis: It is a chronic infection that is caused due to blockage of the meibomian gland (Small oil gland present in the eyelid). Streptococcal bacteria are among the most common bacteria leading to such a condition. Infections and allergies are other causes of blepharitis, whereby prolonged chronic blepharitis can cause an ingrown eyelash.
- Sty on the Eyelid: Small bumps on the eyelids are called sty or stye that causes discomfort and irritation that are not serious. The main factors responsible for causing a sty are bacterial infections. It mostly takes around a week or two to heal on its own. The growth of the bacteria into the roots or follicle of the eyelashes and tiny oil glands on the eyelids causes a change in the growth of eyelashes. The blockage and infection of pores restrict the growth of eyelashes in the outward direction leading to this condition.
- Trauma or Injury to the Eyelids: Trauma or injury to the eyelid can be threatening because eyelids protect the eyes. While the injury on the eyelid heals, the skin along the eyelid may deform and if the wound is left to heal in an uncovered state, it can cause ingrown eyelashes.
Symptoms of Ingrown eyelashes
Although considered as a minor issue, ingrown hair may cause some major issues and painful symptoms in the long run. Some common symptoms associated with ingrown hair are:
- Inflammation in eyelids
- Discomfort and pain
- Watery eyes
- Redness of eyes
- Frequent eye infections
- Scratching of cornea from eyelashes
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light (Photophobia)
- Eye watering
- Red Eyes
Treatment for Ingrown Eyelashes
A temporary solution to the pain and irritation are medicines that are easily available over the counter. They include eye drops and ointments that are prescribed to treat redness, pain and irritation. However, the ultimate solution to this problem is removing the eyelash.
- Warm compress
- Tea bag compress
- Aloe Vera
- Coconut oil
- Cucumber slices
- Turmeric paste
- Corticosteroids: This method is adapted to calm the redness and inflammation of the eyelids. Although they are easily available as an OTC medicine, it is recommended to consult a doctor before its usage. They can ease the symptoms but are not capable of treating ingrown hair. Prednisolone is another form of corticosteroids that help in reducing inflammation and redness. It is strictly advised that pregnant females, allergy to steroids or people with kidney or liver diseases should refrain from its consumption.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics do not treat ingrown eyelashes but are prescribed to fight infections and germs. Offering temporary relief to inflammation and redness, the options include:
- Gentamicin cream (kills bacteria)
- Ciprofloxacin (treats eye infections)
- Artificial tears: These are used to treat dry eyes and act as an oral lubricant that relieves discomfort and irritation. They do not treat ingrown eyelashes but offer relief for dry eyes by reducing scratches in the retina and facilitating smooth movement of the eyes. They are available in forms of ointment and drops.
- Epilation: This method is used to remove hair from any part of the body. Shaving and waxing are the common forms of epilation that are either done manually or surgically. Although considered least complicated, there are chances of reoccurrence.
- Electrolysis: A process of electrolysis it removes ingrown hair using high-frequency electrical currents. They are three different types namely:
How to remove an ingrown eyelash?
It’s completely safe to remove an ingrown eyelash. On most occasions to get relieved from the pressure, it becomes important to remove the eyelash. An infected person may pluck the eyelash himself/herself or take help of another person to do that. There is a possibility of the eyelash to grow again in future which is why it’s strongly recommended to consult an ophthalmologist to fix the problem.
Doctors use forceps or pincers to pluck out the ingrown eyelash. After plucking, doctors mostly prescribe eye drops to reduce the discomfort until the eye is completely healed. In severe cases, doctors might also perform radiosurgery wherein the doctor would pass a current inside the root of the eyelash termed as radio waves. It would eventually get rid of the eyelash. Eye surgery is mostly recommended for people having the recurrent condition.
Preventing ingrown eyelash
Some of the recommended precautions that can prevent ingrown eyelashes are:
- Maintaining good eye care habits
- Regular eye check up
- Removing your contact lenses before going to bed and washing your face
- Remove makeup at the end of the day
- Wear sunglasses whenever you go out in the sun to protect your eyes from UV rays
- Wear protective goggles when appropriate (like chemistry lab)
- Get adequate sleep
- Applying cucumber slices to eyes to keep them cool
- Avoid using mobile phones or computers for constant long hours
- Try to blink every 30 seconds
- While using computer make sure you’re at eye level with the screen
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule when using a computer (For 20 minutes look at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds)
- Work mostly in a well-lit area
- Adopt a healthy diet plan that includes foods rich in Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Zinc & Vitamin C