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An ingrown eyelash occurs when one of the eyelashes begins to grow in an inward direction, toward the eye. Symptoms may include swelling of the hair follicle or the development of a bump, called a stye, that may obstruct part of the vision. Without proper treatment, the eyelash may eventually scratch or damage the cornea of the eye. It is not generally considered safe to attempt to treat an ingrown eyelash at home due to the possibilities of creating more damage to the sensitive eye. It is much safer to allow a healthcare professional to remove the eyelash or perform other procedures as deemed necessary.
Epilation is the name of the medical procedure that is most commonly used to remove an eyelash that has become ingrown. For this procedure, the healthcare professional will typically place a special type of eye drops into the affected eye in order to numb it. He or she may then use a magnifying glass to locate which eyelash needs to be removed. Epilation forceps, similar to tweezers, will then be used to basically pluck out the eyelash. This is usually a short procedure, and removal is practically immediate.
Electrolysis may also sometimes be used to treat an ingrown eyelash. This procedure involves the use of an electrical current to kill the cells responsible for the formation of the eyelashes. For many patients, this is a permanent method of eyelash removal, although some will experience later regrowth. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed to prevent infection. Hot or cold compresses may be used following this procedure to reduce some of the associated swelling that may develop.
Cryotherapy treatment is also a possibility. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze or destroy the hair follicle in order to prevent the eyelash from growing back. This is considered to be a safe and effective treatment option that requires a minimal recovery time.
In some cases, surgery may be done in order to correct the growth pattern of the eyelashes or to cut out the affected eyelash. Occasionally, the surgeon may decide to cut out an entire section of eyelashes in an attempt to prevent the condition from returning. In most instances, an eye specialist known as an ophthalmologist will perform any of these procedures, although other specialists, such as a cosmetic surgeon, may sometimes be consulted for assistance.
Can I Remove an Ingrown Eyelash Myself?
An ingrown eyelash can be uncomfortable and may cause a lot of pain. Typically, you will notice a red bump forming where the ingrown eyelash is located. To deal with the pain, you may feel the urge to take care of the ingrown eyelash yourself. For a case that is not severe, this could be as simple as plucking the eyelash from the area where the redness is located.
However, the reality is that this could be dangerous, leading you to cause damage to your eye. Often, when you are dealing with an ingrown eyelash, the safest way to approach the issue is to get help from a medical professional with the proper tools and knowledge to take care of your eye safely.
Can an Ingrown Eyelash Cause a Stye?
In many ways, eyelashes function just as other hairs on your body do. If an eyelash is not growing properly, it can become trapped under the surface of the skin, leading to ingrown hair. This causes the affected area to become red and irritated, and it can also lead to the formation of a blemish or stye.
In many ways, a stye is similar to an acne blemish, with the main distinction being that it occurs on the edge of the eyelid, often within a gland. Styes occur on either the upper or lower eyelid and can become quite painful, especially the larger they get. If a stye continues to grow for a long time, it can cause your whole eyelid to appear red and puffy.
Styes typically occur when there is a blockage of a gland on your eyelid. This blockage comes from dirt, oil, debris or ingrown eyelashes. Along with redness, you may also notice your eyes watering more frequently or find a crust forming around your eye. Sensitivity to light and itching also occurs if your stye is bad enough.
How To Prevent Ingrown Eyelashes
While a stye may be an unpleasant and painful thing to deal with, the good news is that there are steps you can take to help prevent them. One of the best things you can do is make sure that you are practicing good hygiene, especially if you wear makeup or use contact lenses.
Remove Your Makeup Every Night
If you wear makeup, it is important to wash it off before going to bed at night. Additionally, you should ensure that you are not using old or expired products, like mascara, eyeshadow or eyeliner, near or on your eyes. It is also a good practice to avoid sharing your makeup items with anyone else, as you do not want to transfer germs or expose yourself to infections like pink eye.
Be Careful With Contacts
If you wear contacts, you need to make sure that you are washing your hands thoroughly when you put them in and take them out. In addition, don't forget to replace your contacts when you need to instead of using the same pair for too long. Something else that you need to avoid if you want to prevent styes is rubbing your eyes, as this can put bacteria from your hands near your eyes, and you will end up rubbing debris into the glands along your eyelashes. This can be particularly important to avoid if you have allergies.
Overall, if you want to prevent styes, providing fewer opportunities for bacteria to be near or enter your eyes is key. By making sure that you wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes when unnecessary, you can help prevent styes from developing.