What Is Madarosis? Its Causes, Associated Symptoms And Treatments


What Is Madarosis?

Blepharitis Eye Infection
The medical condition that leads to a loss of eyelashes is known as madarosis. Derived from the Greek word ‘madao’, that essentially translates into ‘to fall off’. Earlier the clinical term was used only to the loss of eyelashes, but now it also refers to the loss of eyebrows. Madarosis is a clinical sign that can be observed with many diseases – both dermatological and complex body diseases. It may be noted hair that both eyebrows and eyelashes have critical roles to play when it comes to eye health. Wikipedia also reports that a majority of people who suffer from madarosis also have leprosy.

How Do Eyelashes And Eyebrows Help Maintain Eye Health?

If you ever wondered whether eyebrows and eyelashes are only a cosmetic feature to our face or they serve some purpose, then you would be glad to know that apart from giving a structure to our face, they also protect our eyes. It is our eyelashes that keep foreign material like dust, pollen, polluting irritants and bacteria by acting as the first line of defense. Eyebrows work at keeping the sweat away from entering the eyes, and again eyelashes act as the second line of defense. Eyelashes also help filter sunlight and quickly close before an irritant hits the eye.

What Causes Madarosis?

Though eyelashes fall off as a routine and new ones take over, if you have been noticing a gradual decrease in your eyelashes or eyebrows, you will want to know what is causing it. Here are the probable causes of madarosis:

  • Blepharitis: Reportedly one of the main causes of madarosis, blepharitis is basically a condition where eyelids get inflamed. The inflammation of eyelids is caused by a number of viral, fungal or allergic infections. Some people continuously keep on rubbing their eyes due to irritation and may thus pull out eyelash hair.
  • Thyroid problems: Any disorder of the thyroid gland, whether hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can cause eyelashes to fall off. Even the drugs that are used to treat thyroid disorders have been known to cause madarosis.
  • Dermatologic conditions: Psoriasis, Atopic dermatitis, Seborrhoeic dermatitis and many other dermatological conditions have been associated with loss of eyelashes and eyebrow hair.
  • Autoimmune disorders: Autoimmune diseases like Alopecia totalis, and Scleroderma can cause one to lose all the body hair, and eyelashes and eyebrows are no exceptions. These diseases actually have madarosis as a symptom.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Severe deficiency of biotin and iron can cause loss of eyelash and eyebrow hair. Zinc deficiencies can also result in madarosis. It is best to have a diet that has these minerals and add supplements too.
  • Certain infections: Syphilis, herpes, HIV, leprosy and many other viral infections can cause eyelashes and eyebrow hair to fall off. Some fungal infections can also be associated with madarosis.
  • Trauma: A psychological disorder, called trichotillomania, may also cause loss of eyebrow and eyelash hair. The victim gets obsessed with pulling hair from all over the body and, and eyelashes or eyebrows can also get affected.
  • Eyelid cysts and tumors: Though not very common, but madarosis can be caused due to a growth of cysts, tumors, or inflammations just along the eyelids. These growths can cause eyelash hair to fall

What Are The Symptoms Of Madarosis?

As indicated earlier, falling eyelids is the first and the main symptom of madarosis. Before eyelashes actually start to fall off, they feel thin and brittle and tend to pull out more easily than before. Women who use mascara may find that their lashes fall out as they roll the brush. All these signs and symptoms can warrant a need to get checked for madarosis. Other symptoms may include –

  • Burning eyelids with constant itching and subsequent swelling
  • Thinning and subsequently loss of hair from other parts of the body, especially the scalp.
  • Sudden weight gain or palpitation, especially if the patient has underlying condition of thyroid

How Is Madarosis Classified?

Madarosis has been majorly classified into two categories –

  • Non-scarring madarosis: In this condition, hair loss can be treated and regrowth can happen after addressing the primary cause of madarosis.
  • Scarring madarosis: In some cases the loss of hair is permanent and hair can regrow only after cosmetic treatment.

How Can Madarosis (Falling Off Eyelash Hair) Be Treated?

Surgery: Follicular transplantation of the eyebrow hair can be opted for in severe cases. Follicular transplantation can be done by transplanting hair onto the thinning area by making small incisions. The procedure does not warrant any cuts or stitches and hair start to appear after a few months of the surgery.

Topical medications: Topical medications may be used for increasing the length or thickening the eyelash hair. Topical treatments are also used for treating loss of hair from eyebrows.

Cosmetic Treatments: Cosmetic treatments like makeup, artificial eyelashes, tattooing eyebrows or eyelashes, using mascara etc. may also be used to cover the loss of hair.

Psychiatric help: Patients who suffer from the psychiatric disorder of trichotillomania need to seek and offered behavioral and psychological help.

Protein and fatty acids rich diet: A protein-rich diet can help in the growth of new hair in both the eyebrow and the lashes. A diet rich in fatty acids can help to promote and strengthen hair growth.

Castor oil: Though research is divided on the subject, yet it is believed that castor oils helps regrow lost hair and also improves the hair texture. It also helps to be an anti-fungal agent.

Biotin supplements: Also known as vitamin H, Biotin supplements can help in repaid hair texture and promote new hair growth. Biotin helps in improving the keratin structure, the building block of hair and helps to regrow lost hair.

Borax: Diluted borax, when applied on eyelashes and eyebrows, can help clear various infections and toxins and promote good hair health. Many people have reported that after using borax for a few months, even bald spots start to fill up.

Makeup care: Though makeup can be a quick fix to cover loss of hair, yet it is ideal not to use products that have crossed their shelf life age. Always make sure that you remove all makeup before going to bed.

Madarosis can cause social anxiety and may impact the self-confidence of an individual. However, it must be noted that most cases of madarosis are treatable and one can live their life without feeling debilitated.


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