Eyelash Lice

While a eyelash lice infestation may not be a health risk, it can be extremely irritating and contagious. Lice are wingless parasites that feed off of human blood. Adult lice may attach to the skin on your eyelash to lay its eggs or nits on it. The nits then attach themselves to the shaft of the hair from where they hatch 7 to 11 days later. The hatched nits grow into full adults within 15 days and lay more eggs.

Types of lice

Lice are classified based on shape and the area of the body they infest. Here are the three types of lice.

1. Pediculosis capitis

This lice variety commonly infests the head. It has an elongated body and commonly affects children and older adults.

2. Pediculosis corposis

Similar to P.capitis, this type of lice commonly infests body hair, especially hair on the abdomen.

3. Pediculosis pubis

This type of lice is crab-shaped. It commonly infests the pubic area. It is the same lice that infest eyelashes and eyelids.

Causes of eyelash lice infestation

Although most people get eyelash lice infestation, and this is just part of how the ecosystem works, demodicosis is not part of this natural process. Demodicosis is the term used to describe lice infestation on the eyelash that results in an infection or eyelash fall out.

Demodicosis occurs in people who suffer from eye discharge or women who apply lots of makeup. This situation is worsened when you fail to wash your face before going to bed. According to studies, 50-percent of Americans get eyelash lice as a result of going to bed with their makeup on. It is always vital that you maintain proper hygiene and to always wash out your makeup before dozing off. Besides attracting lice, eye makeup can also be a source of infection-causing bacteria. Mascara is specifically known to be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens. Always be sure to wash your makeup brushes and use clean mascara wands every time you apply your makeup to avoid infecting your eyelashes with lice and other pathogenic organisms.

Symptoms of eyelash lice

Just like in any other body part infested with lice, you are likely to experience discomfort and a severe itch when your eyelashes are infested with lice. This normally occurs within five days after initial infestation. The itch tends to be sudden and worse at night. Additional symptoms of eye lice infestation include the following:

  • Tiny, bruise-like, marks on the eyelids
  • Visible lice eggs at the base of the eyelids
  • Crusting at the edges of the eyelids
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, especially in children
  • Eyelash fall off in severe cases
  • Tearing
  • Low-grade fever
  • Feeling ill or fatigued

Diagnosing eyelash lice

It is possible to tell if you have an eyelash lice infestation if you inspect your eyes closely. You should be able to spot the lice and their eggs through a magnifying glass. A careful inspection should reveal tiny white-colored eggs at the root of your eyelashes. Your healthcare provider will be able to positively diagnose eyelash lice by examining your eyes using a slit lamp biomicroscope. Crab-like lice will be seen at the base of your eyelashes under high power magnification. Interestingly, lice have clear bodies, so your doctor may clearly see blood flowing through their bodies.

Treating eyelash lice

Treating eyelash lice can be a challenging task. You will need to start by establishing the source of lice, which may include your bedding or makeup kit. Bearing in mind that lice can easily spread from person to person, you may want to avoid close body contact until you are completely clear of these parasites. Treatment of eyelash lice involves physical removal of the lice using forceps. The nits too should be removed if possible. Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics as a method of killing the lice. Commercially prepared shampoos and chemicals may not be ideal for treating eyelash lice because they can cause irritation and damage to your eye.

Additional eyelash lice management tips include the following:

  • Using a no tear baby soap to clean your face at least twice per day
  • Applying a few drops of tea tree oil to your eyelashes
  • Avoiding makeup for at least two weeks during the treatment period
  • When it is time to use makeup again, consider buying new stock as your previous kit could have been infested too
  • Get your spouse checked for lice infestation
  • Also, get your pets checked for lice infestation. Cats and dogs are especially vulnerable to eyelash lice
  • Thoroughly clean or change your bedding and pillows
  • Observe thorough personal hygiene
  • Trimming eyelashes at the base is recommended in cases of recurrent infestation

Preventing Eyelash lice

As already indicated, paying close attention to personal hygiene is vital to preventing any form of lice infestation. Always remember to wash away all the makeup on your face before retiring to bed. Next, get rid of old mascara and eye makeup.

Have pets, especially those that share the bed with you (cats and dogs) checked for lice and other parasite infestation.

Eyelash lice and man have a sort of symbiotic relationship. These parasites remove harmful oils and dirt from the face. The only downside comes when your face, thanks to poor hygiene, becomes a feast of oils and dirt for these organisms. This could cause a boom in lice population resulting in a situation where too many lice feast off your follicles. Besides causing eye infection, this can also result in severe loss of eyelashes. Therefore, always remember to free your face of dirt before going to bed.

Eyelash lice: Final word

Eyelash lice or pediculosis pubis is a parasite found in the follicles of the eyelash area. These parasites are usually harmless, and you can carry on with your day to day life without being bothered by the fact that some tiny, crab-like organism is feeding off your oils. Anyone can have these parasites although women who apply makeup are more prone. Personal hygiene is vital when preventing or treating eyelash lice. Be sure to seek advice from your healthcare provider if you are severely affected by eyelash lice.