Ophthalmologists warn of eyelash mites after growing eyelash extension trend

KENMORE, NY (WIVB) — With the popularity of eyelash extensions, ophthalmologists are now warning people to be more careful that people can develop eyelash infections or mites.

It’s a growing beauty trend. Eyelash extensions are meant to give women a fuller and lusher look. But some eye doctors say it can also be a breeding ground for bacteria, if you’re not careful.

Dr. David Burstein says he has treated patients for eyelash mites and some of those patients have eyelash extensions.

“When you use things like extensions, and you create a little inflammation, it knocks immunity down and allows those mites to create an infestation,” said Dr. Burstein of Kenmore Eye Care.

But Burstein says eyelash extensions aren’t the main cause of eyelash mites. In fact, he says he sees them in many elderly patients as well.

“It sounds bad and it feels a little weird, but it’s really a pretty normal thing to have,” Dr. Burstein said.

Ophthalmologists urge people to wash their eyelashes and eyelids thoroughly, which can be an easy place for eyelash mites or lice.

“That’s where they go, wherever there’s a hair follicle, that’s where they are unfortunately, some ways of passing lice to each other,” Burstein said.

Burstein says if this happens, it can be treated with the right products such as those containing tea tree oil. It says there are scrubs, cleansers and wipes available.

Burstein says it’s not to scare people off from having extensions, but to remind you to clean your eyes well.

“You want to be a little rough with your lashes, not be gentle. You want to go all the way to the base of those lashes,” Burstein said.

Burstein says it usually takes about 2-4 weeks to treat the mites or lice. Then, he says, a patient is put on maintenance therapy. He says if people notice problems with their eyelashes, whether they have extensions or not, it’s best to go see a doctor.