Ingrown Eyelash (Trichiasis)
Trichiasis is the inward growth of an eyelash or lashes, so that they touch your eyeball. This typically leads to irritation and may cause you to rub at your eyes to clear it. These eyelashes can look the same as the rest of your lashes in normal thickness and color, but they can also be thin, colorless and extremely hard to see or take out.
You should not attempt to remove the lashes yourself. If you suspect you have an ingrown eyelash, you should see your ophthalmologist immediately to minimize potential damage to your cornea.
Things to Watch Out For
There are a lot of symptoms associated with trichiasis that could mimic other eye problems, but it’s the persistent irritation that’s the biggest indicator of the problem. This irritation leads to other symptoms as your eye struggles to rid itself of the lash that’s poking and scraping your cornea. Other symptoms can include:
- Watering of your eye
- Itching of your eye and eyelid
- Eye discharge, which can consist of mucus or pus
- Eyelid swelling
- Photophobia or a sensitivity to light, possibly due to corneal surface damage
- Inflammation of your eyelash follicles or eyelid
- A gritty feeling in your eye that you’re unable to relieve
- Blurred vision, sometimes
- Corneal ulceration, in extreme cases
Causes of Ingrown Eyelashes
Ingrown eyelashes can develop because of an anatomical issue, such as an eyelid that has turned in, by a congenital condition or simply from aging. If you’re experiencing any of the following, an ingrown eyelash is the possible culprit:
- Inverted eyelid, which carries the medical name marginal entropion, is when the edge of your eyelid starts to roll inward towards your eye, bringing the lashes with it, so that they now point at your eye. This is a condition usually associated with blepharitis, an inflammation due to an oil gland malfunction that leaves oily residue and debris in your eye.
- Injury or trauma to your eye, such as from a disfiguring burn on your face, can of course affect your eyelashes, including causing ingrown lashes.
- A rare condition called distichiasis is where your lashes begin to grow in an abnormal fashion from the meibomian glands instead of from the follicles. You might notice an additional row of eyelashes has sprung up.
- Herpes zoster ophthalmicus is basically a case of shingles in your eye. It can include a forehead rash and cause all structures in the front of your eye to become inflamed. Ingrown eyelashes often result.
- A stye on your eyelid, especially if you were prone to them in childhood, seem to cause in increased risk of ingrown eyelashes in adulthood.
- Autoimmune disorders can make it difficult for your body to fend off recurring eye infections, which are a root cause of trichiasis.
- Epiblepharon is a congenital disorder where your eyelid folds over due to excessive skin in the eyelid area. This condition can force eyelashes to grow vertically.
- Psoriasis can lead to an eye inflammation called uveitis. Inflammation of your eyelid often causes the fragile skin there, when swollen, to roll inward, dragging lashes with it.
Psoriasis can also manifest on the eyelid, causing a high volume of skin cells to be sloughed off faster than the eye can handle it. These extra skin cells cause a thickening of the skin, which then pushes on your eyelashes.
- A final way psoriasis can cause trichiasis is by causing your lashes to grow incorrectly, thereby giving you ingrown eyelashes.
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome and cicatricial pemphigoid, rare skin and mucous membrane disorders, can also cause trichiasis.
- Aging causes your skin typically to become thinner and less firm. This can lead to rolling in of your eyelid and cause your lashes to brush against your cornea.
- Catching an eye infection from someone else with trachoma or from something you used on your eye, such as contaminated cosmetics, can cause eyelashes to become ingrown. Infections should always be taken care of as soon as possible.
Diagnosis Can Be Difficult
Diagnosis isn’t always simple. While ingrown lashes that are the same color and thickness as the rest of your eyelashes are typically easy enough to spot with just a mirror, ingrown lashes are not always visible.
In fact, ingrown lashes can be nearly clear, extra fine and invisible to the naked eye. Your doctor may find that an in-depth eye exam is needed to ensure a correct diagnosis.
Unfortunately, ingrown lashes do not resolve themselves. There are a number of easy home remedies for easing discomfort, such as warm compresses for swollen eyelids, cool compresses to ease itching or even using cucumber slices for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
But the reality is that the only way to resolve ingrown eyelashes is for a doctor to treat them. This usually involves removal of the offending lashes. This doesn’t guarantee a permanent cure, as the lashes may grow back abnormally afterwards. Treatment choice is based on the number of lashes involved, the cause and your preference. Some options:
- Epilation is the removal of body hair, generally speaking. There are several methods, some of which you have probably heard of or used, such as shaving or waxing. However, these are obviously not suitable for your eye. If there are only one or two lashes involved, your doctor can give you a local anesthetic and remove the hair with epilation forceps. While this is quick and easy, this treatment will not keep the eyelash from growing back abnormally.
- Electrolysis involves a high frequency electrical current administered directly to the hair follicle. While this method is usually good for permanently removing the eyelash, there are several cons to choosing this procedure, including its expense, the longer length of time the procedure takes, the possibility of scarring, and difficulty in reaching the follicle when the eyelash is curled in.
- Cryoablation uses liquid nitrogen or argon gas inserted into the hair follicle via a needle-like device. While this permanent procedure is quick with a short recovery time, it is expensive and carries an increased risk of surrounding tissue being damaged during the procedure.
- Surgery, in extreme cases, may be the only option if abnormal eyelash growth and eye infections become recurrent or involve a multitude of eyelashes, leaving you in constant discomfort. Your doctor physically rotates your eyelid around to its normal alignment and uses strategically placed stitches to keep it in its proper place. This is another expensive treatment option, although it is a permanent cure for ingrown eyelashes.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult eye doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified eye doctor can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Ingrown Eyelash (Trichiasis) treatment in NYC? Would like to schedule an appointment with NYC Top Ophthalmologist or Optometrist Dr. Saba Khodadadian of Manhattan Eye Specialists, please contact our office for consultation with New York eye doctor.
Dr. Saba Khodadadian, Optometrist (NYC Eye Doctor)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 533-4821