Uptick in cases of eyelash lice prompt doctor warnings

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON)  — Doctors are warning people who wear eyelash extensions to make sure they are cleaned regularly.

The warning comes after doctors have noticed an uptick in lash lice or Demodex, which is reported in users who do not wash eyelash extensions enough or at all, KTRK reports.

This type of lice is usually smaller than head lice and body lice, with adults measuring up to 2 mm long.

This lack of cleaning leads to a buildup of bacteria which can lead to a potentially dangerous eye infection.

Doctors said they’re similar to head lice though in that they can jump and be transferred.

While it’s not common, it definitely happens, Prevention reported.

“I have seen several cases,” said Dr. Gary Goldenberg, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City told Prevention.

Symptoms of lice lash include redness, itchiness, and inflammation.

Treatment includes topical ointments, tea tree oil, and just proper hygiene.

Make sure to clean your eyelids regularly and if possible to take a break from eyelash extensions every now and then.

What to look for:

There are three types of lice that live on humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Pediculus humanus capitis (head louse),
  • Pediculus humanus corporis (body louse, clothes louse), and
  • Pthirus pubis (“crab” louse, pubic louse).

Only the body louse is known to spread disease.

Eyelash lice spread from pubic lice, according to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York City board-certified dermatologist told Prevention.

“Pubic lice have evolved to attach to coarse hair in the genital area, but it also can attach to hair in the eyebrows and the eyelashes,” he said.

Treating lice, nits on eyebrows or eyelashes:

  • If only a few live lice and nits are present, it may be possible to remove these with fingernails or a nit comb.
  • If additional treatment is needed for lice or nits on the eyelashes, careful application of ophthalmic-grade petrolatum ointment (only available by prescription) to the eyelid margins 2–4 times a day for 10 days is effective. Regular petrolatum (e.g., Vaseline)* should not be used because it can irritate the eyes if applied.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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