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An ingrown eyelash is an eye condition characterized by the inward development of the eyelashes in the direction of the eyes. It results in pain and can possibly harm the eyes. An ingrown eyelash is fairly common and affects individuals of all age groups, all race and both the genders. The medical term used for the condition is ‘trichiasis.’

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Prolonged and constant rubbing of the ingrown eyelashes into the cornea can lead to the development of ocular infections in the affected individuals. This can ultimately result in vision problems and scarring. It is quite difficult to detect the occurrence of an ingrown eyelash. They may be of the same thickness and color as normal eyelashes, or they can be very thin, colorless or whitish. The thick variety of ingrown eyelash may prick the eyes, but the finer versions can cause a lot of discomfort, irritation and continuously tickle the eye.

Other symptoms of an ingrown eyelash include soreness, redness and watering from the affected eyes. It is essential for patients to consult a doctor and seek treatment for an ingrown eyelash, so as to avoid ocular troubles and other complications of the eye

Symptoms of an ingrown eyelash

The symptoms of an ingrown eyelash are listed below:

  • An ingrown eyelash usually results in pain and discomfort. Depending on the seriousness of the disorder, such distress may be mild or severe. In the developmental stages, an ingrown eyelash may cause sandy sensations in the eyes. However, post complete growth, an ingrown eyelash can cause pain that is more prominent, swelling of the eyes and difficulties in opening the affected eye.
  • Dry eyes, is another side effect of an ingrown eyelash, which in turn can exacerbate the pain and irritation. Patients may use lubricant eye drops to alleviate the irritation and the level of damage caused by rubbing of the ingrown eyelash on the cornea
  • An ingrown eyelash can also cause inflammation, which is mostly limited to a part of the swollen eyelash. However, when the disorder worsens with extreme infection, then the complete eyelid may experience inflammation.
  • An ingrown eyelash caused by an underling disease like autoimmune eye disorder or trachoma, can elicit a variety of symptoms including prolonged watery eyes, drainage from the eyes, itchiness, eyelid scarring, and ocular redness, which is quite evident by the presence of a dark red mark at the contact point of the ingrown eyelash and the eye
  • Individuals affected by an ingrown eyelash commonly experience vision disturbances due to its scratching movements. Such ocular anomalies are usually caused due to ocular damage and can result in cloudiness, blurriness or even loss of sight. Extreme instances of vision difficulties may occasionally require correction through a corneal transplantation

Ingrown eyelash in babies

Trachoma is a particular type of bacterial infection of the eyes that mostly affects children. It is an extremely contagious disorder and its long term effects tend to persevere into adulthood. Such an infection is one of the primary causes of an ingrown eyelash in babies. The disease is generally observed to occur in the underdeveloped nations. Chronic infection of the eyes can lead to scarring and trigger the onset of ingrown eyelashes in babies. When an ingrown eyelash in babies is caused due to ocular surgery or trauma to the eyes, then the parents need to urgently take corrective measures to prevent further harm to the babies’ eyes.

It may be noted that cases of an ingrown eyelash in babies that are left untreated can lead to development of severe discomfort in childhood and ultimately result in the development of graver eye abnormalities in adulthood.

Causes of an ingrown eyelash

An ingrown eyelash can be caused due to the following:

  • Infections. They can occur when one touches the eyes with contaminated hands or via use of bad quality eye care products
  • Inflammation
  • Some races eliciting heavily hooded eyelids are more vulnerable to the occurrence of an ingrown eyelash
  • Ocular injuries or a trauma to the eyes in the past
  • Inherited causes or some congenital disorder. For example, epiblepharon is a birth disorder which occurs when the muscles situated near the eyes cause the skin to drive the eyelashes inwards. It mostly affects Asians and can be rectified via surgery
  • Presence of deformed eyelids
  • Becoming older
  • Occurrence of sties during childhood can increase the vulnerability of developing an ingrown eyelash during adulthood
  • Preexisting autoimmune conditions
  • Certain types of medical processes can elevate the susceptibility to future cases of an ingrown eyelash

Ingrown eyelash treatment

  • An ingrown eyelash should not be removed at home. Doctors can use forceps to remove an ingrown eyelash. Recurrent cases may require surgical removal of the eyelash
  • Electrical therapy involving destruction of the cells that help in hair production is another way to eliminate an ingrown eyelash
  • The affected hair follicles may also be destroyed via cryosurgery involving use of liquid nitrogen to freeze them. It is a permanent cure which prevents re-growth of the eyelash. This treatment is generally restricted to a particular section of an ingrown eyelash.

Inflammation and pain can be eased via a warm compress

Ingrown eyelash pictures

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