What is Madarosis?
Madarosis is the medical terminology for the loss of eyelashes. It originates from the Greek term “madao”, which means ‘to fall off’. Madarosis means that eyelashes fall off the eyelid. Madarosis may be caused by eyelid cancer, eyelash mites, or chronic inflammation of the eyelid. Other symptoms that may be associated with madarosis are itchy, red, or irritated eyes. Madarosis can be diagnosed by an eye doctor with the use of a microscope, which magnifies the visualization of the eyelashes. Damaged eyelashes typically grow back in six weeks as long as the eyelid and skin are unharmed. The main goal of managing madarosis is to manage the underlying condition causing madarosis.
- Madarosis is a medical term defined as the loss of eyelashes.
- There are several reasons why eyelashes can fall out, including eyelid tumors, eyelid inflammation, and eyelash mites.
- Treatment for madarosis depends on why the eyelashes are falling out. Certain eye drops can make the eyelashes grow back.
Madarosis is defined as any condition that causes the loss of eyelashes. Madarosis is a rare condition. One in five hundred people have some form of madarosis and eyelash loss. Madarosis may involve complete loss of all of the eyelashes, or only partial loss of a few eyelashes. Complete loss of the eyelashes is uncommon but is more likely to occur in autoimmune diseases such as alopecia, or if there is a chemical burn to the eyelid. More commonly, madarosis only affects a small area of the eyelid and a patch of eyelashes will fall out.
Causes of madarosis include:
- Eyelid tumors
- Blepharitis: inflammation of the eyelids, commonly due to bacteria on the eyelashes
- Chemical burn of the eye
- Eyelash mites
- People pulling out their own eyelashes
Disorders Related to Madarosis
The most common cause of madarosis is blepharitis. Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis may occur when scales and greasy crusts build up along the eyelid, close to the base of the eyelashes. . If there is chronic blepharitis for many months the eyelashes may become encased in a hard coating of bacteria known as a collarette. Collarettes of the eyelashes are a sign of bacterial infection. Blepharitis due to bacterial infection can cause symptoms such as itchy eyes, redness, eyelid swelling, dryness, or irritation. Blepharitis is treated by improving eyelid hygiene. Eyelid scrubs are recommended daily to clean the base of the eyelashes and kill existing bacteria. As the bacteria are eradicated, symptoms such as itchiness will resolve within a week or two. The eyelashes typically grow back six weeks after the blepharitis is under better control.
- Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is an inflammatory skin condition. Up to 20% of children and 3% of adults worldwide have atopic dermatitis. The skin becomes itchy, scaly, and develops rashes due to an allergic response. Atopic dermatitis can affect the eyes and cause chronic eyelid inflammation. This can result in madarosis.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis
In contrast to atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis is due to overproduction of oil on the skin. It affects oily areas of the body such as the scalp, eyebrows, and ears. Dandruff and white, flaky scales are common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis. This condition can affect eyelash growth and make the eyelashes less thick.
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease associated with patchy areas of hair loss. It targets hair follicles and completely halts the process of hair growth. Alopecia can cause madarosis because eyelash growth is inhibited. People with alopecia have few or no eyelashes.
- Thyroid disease
Thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones. Thyroid disease can cause inflammation and swelling of the tissues around the eye. Madarosis has been reported as an early sign of hyperthyroidism.
What Distinguishes Superciliary Madarosis From Regular Madarosis?
Superciliary madarosis is defined as loss of the eyebrows. Madarosis is defined as loss of eyelashes. The word “superciliary” contains the prefix super-, meaning ‘above’, and the suffix ciliary, meaning ‘eyelashes’. Hence, superciliary translates to “above the eyelashes”. Superciliary refers to hair loss of the eyebrows.
The average amount of eyelash growth per day is about 0.15 millimeters. Eyelashes have a life span of six months before they are naturally shed by the body. If the eyelashes are pulled out, it takes approximately six weeks for a new eyelash to grow. On the other hand, the growth cycle of an eyebrow is three to four months. It takes much longer for eyebrows to grow back than eyelashes.
Treatments For Madarosis
Certain treatments can improve eyelash growth and help to improve the eyelash appearance if someone has madarosis. One such medication is Lattise (bimatoprost), an eye drop that was originally made to treat glaucoma but has been FDA approved as an eyelash growth serum. When using Lattise, an eye drop is placed on an applicator brush and then the brush is applied to the eyelashes. The downside of Latisse is that it can make the color of the eyes brown or darker, and the skin around the eyes may also get darker. The eyelashes will stop growing if the eye drop is stopped.
Eyelash extensions are also an alternative way to improve the appearance of the eyelashes for people who have madarosis. However, it is important to maintain good eyelid hygiene with eyelash extensions. They should be removed and cleaned frequently to prevent buildup of bacteria. An eyelash cleanser or a hypochlorous acid spray should be used daily on the eyelash extensions in order to prevent bacterial infections of the eye.