Sometimes we lose our eyelashes due to an illness or injury. Other times we may lose them due to over-plucking or using harsh chemicals. But the good news is that eyelashes do grow back. It may take a few weeks or even months, but they will grow back in time, so long as the follicles are still intact and there isn't a medical condition that is preventing them from growing.
Your eyelashes, like the hair on your head, will grow back if they are pulled out. However, it may take a few months for them to reach their full length. Keratin is a protein that makes up your hair, nails, and skin, that is strong and resilient. However, if you pull out your eyelashes too often, they may become weaker and not grow back as quickly.
Read on for more information about how your eyelashes, and when you can expect them to grow back.
What Causes Eyelash Loss?
Eyelash loss is a distressing condition that can easily frighten people suffering from it. In truth, there are a great many possible causes, and this relatively scary symptom could very well be the result of something relatively benign.
Possible causes include skin conditions like blepharitis and fungal infections, for example. Hormonal changes, such as those experienced during puberty or pregnancy, can also be to blame as the body can produce higher levels of estrogen during these times. On the scarier side of things, underactive thyroid glands (which can themselves be caused by several different conditions) may also lead to this type of hair loss.
A big part of the reason that eyelash loss is so scary is that eyelashes are not the sort of body hair we are used to seeing fall out, and patients often panic and wonder whether they will ever be able to grow them back.
Do Eyelashes Grow Back?
Fortunately, yes, they do grow back – the eyelashes are produced by hair follicles embedded in your skin's outer layer (the epidermis), so they’re not specialized skin cells but rather really not that different from your regular hair. Like your other hair, these follicles are also protected by a layer of oil and dead skin cells called the germinal matrix, which helps to maintain healthy growth, and changes to this germinal matrix could be to blame for the loss of your eyelashes (or their shortening/thinning). This also explains why your eyelashes will generally grow back at different rates depending on the exact cause of the condition, how long you've been sick, and whether you’re taking certain medications.
The good news is that most people will regain their full lash length within 2 - 3 months after the illness or medication ends – but if you're still concerned about how long that time period is, you can reach out and talk to your doctor about potential treatments that could help increase your eyelash recovery faster than usual.
Basics Of The Eyelash Growth Cycle
Eyelashes generally go through three different stages of growth that doctors differentiate between, and understanding them and their duration can help you get a better sense for what to expect going forward.
The first phase – the growth phase – is the longest, lasting approximately 6 to 8 weeks. During this period, new eyelashes are formed and any existing ones tend to also grow longer and thicker as well.
The second stage is called the resting phase, and has an initial duration of about 3 to 7 days before then lasting until the new lashes fall out (this varies from person to person, but usually takes about 2 weeks). Eyelashes rest during this time, undergoing no change in length or thickness compared to what they were like before entering into the resting stage.
Finally, there is the so-called transitioning phase, which follows after your eyelashes' resting period ends and they are ready to fall out and be replaced. It generally only lasts one or two days on average. As this phase approaches its end point, your old lashes will be replaced by newly formed ones, starting the cycle anew.
Tips For Growing Back Eyelashes
In general, the best thing you can do is to simply give your lashes the time they need to grow back. Trying to force them back with special products or shampoos may well damage them or the germinal matrix, which could result in them falling out again. So give it time and let nature run its course.
However, there are certainly some things to keep in mind. If you're taking antidepressants or other medications that affect hair growth, for example, you need to talk to your doctor about changing medications if possible, as some people find that switching drugs helps their hair return more quickly than it would while they remained medicated.
If you absolutely cannot wait for your eyelashes to return, you can consult with your doctor to try and find a lash growth serum that they think might help. These are usually meant to be applied twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) until your eyelashes return to their full length.
How To Prevent Eyelash Loss
Since eyelash loss has so many possible causes, you’ll want to follow the general rule of simply not subjecting them to any additional, unnecessary stress. That means being mindful of three things:
- Avoid tugging at your lashes, especially when removing eye makeup. Makeup can often be applied around the lash line and then pulled down, but doing this repeatedly can cause damage to the roots of your lashes and lead to breakage. Instead, gently wipe off any excess mascara with cotton pads or a dampened makeup remover wipe.
- Avoid excessive rubbing of the eyes. Tugging at lids or pulling on eyelashes assumes enough of a risk of exacerbating lash loss, but so is rubbing them excessively while trying to get something out of them (like a fallen eyelash). Excessive rubbing also contributes to dryness in the area which can lead to more frequent scratching, which in turn can break lashes.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals near the eye area. This includes anything from scrubbing too hard during exfoliation sessions to applying products which could irritate sensitive skin such as toners or astringents without following them up with moisturizing products.
When To See A Doctor
If you are losing a large number of eyelashes, whether in clumps or patches, then it's already time for a visit to the doctor because while there are benign causes, there are more worrisome ones as well. Eyelid rashes and similar accompanying symptoms are also good reasons to see a medical professional.
This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.