Eyelashes and Chemotherapy: What to Do About Lash Loss

Simple Tricks for Thicker Eyelashes During Chemotherapy

Cropped Image Of Woman Eye. Credit: Adam Drobiec / EyeEm / Getty Images

The prospect of losing the hair on your scalp during chemotherapy treatment is overwhelming and distressing for anyone, let alone when the doctor tells you that you will probably lose your eyelashes as well. One of the most common questions I get from readers is about why the hair loss happens and whether they will also lose their eyelashes during chemotherapy.

Losing Eyelashes During Chemotherapy

Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy treatment.

Unfortunately, loss isn't just limited to the hair on the head, but also the eyelashes. In fact, all hair on the body can fall victim to chemotherapy, including leg, arm, and pubic hair. Even eyebrows are at risk.

Not everyone who undergoes chemotherapy will lose their hair, though. Each person responds differently to chemotherapy and some drugs are more likely to cause hair loss than others. The dosage level of chemotherapy is also a factor in whether someone will lose their hair or not — lower dosages usually equal lesser side effects.

While eyelash loss isn't as common as losing the hair on your head, it does occur and can be disturbing for men and women undergoing chemotherapy. You can cover a bald head with a wig or a cap, but there aren't many remedies for lost eyelashes. Even more bothersome is that sometimes the eyelashes do not fall out until long after chemotherapy has been completed.

Some people experience thinning or shortening of the lashes instead of complete loss. It is not uncommon for those who lose their eyelashes to go through recurring cycles of loss and regrowth.

5 Simple Tricks for Thicker Eyelashes 

You may not lose your eyelashes from chemo, but you may still find that your lashes are delicate.

Also, eyelashes that grow back after chemotherapy treatment may be fine, prone to breakage, or sparse. To help prevent further lash loss, try the following tips for delicate lashes:

  • Refrain from rubbing your eyes (or patting lashes to see if they are still there)
  • Use a soft cotton ball and a natural eye makeup remover to gently wipe any makeup from your eyes
  • Avoid heavy mascaras, especially waterproof or warm water wash brads that can be too harsh on delicate lashes.
  • Ask your doctor about wearing false lashes (see below)
  • Ask your doctor about medicated products that stimulate eyelash regrowth (see below)

Tips for False or Stimulated Lashes

False eyelashes may be an option for some people, but you should always check with your doctor before using them. There is always a risk of infection when using false eyelashes, or you may have an allergy to the glue. False eyelashes are available at most drug stores and cosmetic counters for about $3 to $100. It is recommended that you spot test the glue on the inside of your arm first, to see if you have an allergic reactions to the chemicals in the glue.

Latisse is a FDA approved treatment used to stimulate eyelash growth and darkening. It is applied topically to the base of the lashes each night.

Results vary from person and are typically seen after 8 weeks of use. As with the false eyelashes, you should check with your doctor or oncologist before using the product, and always do an allergy test before applying Lattise to your eyes. Insurance providers may cover the cost of Latisse, but may require a letter or personal phone call from your physician for approval.

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