Millions of eyelash extensions are done each year without complications, but some people do experience issues after getting them. This includes blepharitis, which involves eyelid inflammation.

Eyelash extensions are a popular way to make the lashes appear longer and fuller. The beauty treatment involves adhering individual extensions, made of materials like polyester or mink, to natural ones.

Blepharitis is a common condition that can develop in people who have eyelash extensions. Read on to learn more about the link between the two.

Blepharitis is a very prevalent eye condition. While it’s not contagious and rarely causes long-term damage to the eyes or eyelids, it can be uncomfortable.

Symptoms often include:

  • red or swollen eyelids
  • itchy, stinging, or irritated eyes
  • light sensitivity
  • dry eyes
  • eye crustiness
  • foamy tears

In more serious cases, it can cause:

  • vision blurriness
  • eyelashes to fall out
  • eyelashes to grow in the wrong direction
  • swelling of the cornea or other parts of the eye

Researchers don’t know exactly why lash extensions increase your risk of developing blepharitis, though they have some ideas.

Blepharitis typically happens due to the accumulation of bacteria on your lids, just around where your lashes grow. Although everyone has some degree of bacteria around their eyes, certain things can increase the quantity of it, like using mascara, contact lens solutions, or eyelash extensions.

Blepharitis can also happen if the oil glands around your eyelids become clogged.

But according to 2019 research, the most common complication of lash extensions is allergic blepharitis (79 percent of instances studied). This means that most people are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to the glue that adheres to the lashes. Researchers also suspect the weight and structure of the lashes can cause irritation.

Lash glue often contains latex and ammonia, both of which are common allergens. It also tends to emit high levels of formaldehyde, which is toxic and can cause serious irritation.

Even if you don’t develop full-blown blepharitis, an estimated 73 percent of people experience some type of eye side effects after eyelash extension application, including:

  • itching
  • redness
  • pain
  • eyelid heaviness

There’s no proven treatment for blepharitis, but there are a couple of key steps you can take to manage symptoms, including:

  • gently washing your eyelids regularly
  • keeping your eyelids clean and free of crusts

When washing your eyelids, follow these steps:

  1. First, make sure your hands are clean by washing them with soap and water.
  2. Place a drop of mild cleanser on a clean, damp cloth.
  3. Gently press the cloth against your closed eye(s) for a couple of minutes. This will help loosen the crusts. It can also help open up the oil glands, preventing them from clogging.
  4. Using very little force, rub the cloth on your lids to remove the crusts.
  5. Rinse your eyes with clean water.
  6. Repeat as needed.

You may also want to use over-the-counter eye drops, often nicknamed “artificial tears,” to help manage dryness and discomfort.

If your symptoms don’t resolve in a few days, follow up with a healthcare professional. They can do a physical eye exam to assess your condition.

Based on your symptoms, they might prescribe:

  • Eye drops: Steroid eye drops can help ease pain, redness, and inflammation. In an older study from 2012 of 107 people with blepharitis, symptoms were resolved by treatment with eye drops and/or ointments.
  • Antibiotics: If your healthcare professional thinks that bacteria caused your blepharitis, they might prescribe antibiotics. These come in capsule, cream, or eye drop form.

In some cases, an underlying condition, like rosacea, psoriasis, or dandruff, might be triggering blepharitis symptoms. In that case, you’ll need to treat the underlying cause.

If you have lash extensions, treatment might involve getting them removed to help reduce symptoms.

There’s no tried-and-true way to prevent blepharitis from eyelash extensions, but there are a few things that can help, including:

  • Practicing good hygiene: Wash your face and eyes at least twice a day with clean hands. To avoid the spread of bacteria, always wash your hands before touching your face or eyes.
  • Avoiding triggers: Since things like mascara, makeup, contact solution, and lash extensions can provoke blepharitis, you may want to avoid them or use them sparingly.
  • Reducing bacteria spread: If you don’t want to give up your lashes, contacts, or mascara, that’s understandable. Reduce the risk of issues by replacing your mascara every 3 months. Use fresh, non-expired contact solution as directed. When it comes to lash extensions, only get them done by a licensed and trained professional who uses sanitized equipment.

Eyelash extensions can sometimes cause blepharitis, a condition characterized by eyelid inflammation. This is likely due to the glue in the lashes, which may cause an allergic reaction.

If you have blepharitis, gently wash your eyes regularly with clean hands and a mild cleanser. If your symptoms don’t resolve in a few days, talk with a healthcare professional. They may prescribe eye drops or antibiotics to treat the condition.