Updated on  March 9, 2023
4 min read

Ingrown Eyelash - Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

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What is Trichiasis (Ingrown Eyelashes)?

Trichiasis refers to ingrown eyelashes. Ingrown eyelashes grow toward the eye instead of outward away from the eye.3

Trichiasis can be very irritable and even painful. If left untreated, trichiasis can also cause damage to the eyes.3

Here are some of the symptoms and causes of ingrown eyelashes, as well as treatments and at-home remedies.

What are the Symptoms of an Ingrown Eyelash?

The most obvious sign of an ingrown eyelash is an eyelash that grows out of your hair follicle in the wrong direction.

The symptoms of ingrown eyelashes may vary depending on how many eyelashes are ingrown and the texture of your hair. Some people have coarser hair than others, which can make ingrown eyelashes even more uncomfortable. 

Here are some of the most common symptoms of ingrown eyelashes:3

  • Eyelashes that stick out toward the eyes
  • Top eyelashes that get stuck with the bottom lashes, or vice versa
  • Red eyes
  • Eye irritation
  • Eye pain
  • Irritated eyelids
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye inflammation
  • Bacterial infection of the eye
  • Vision loss (in extreme cases) 

Many people with trichiasis describe the feeling as something scratching their eyes.

If these symptoms go without treatment for too long, they can cause more serious damage to the eyes and vision.

What Causes Trichiasis?

Trichiasis might happen for a few reasons.3

  • Irregular eyelash growth; some eyelashes just naturally grow in the wrong direction.
  • Blepharitis can cause swelling of the eyelids. Swelling can distort the hair follicles, so the lashes grow in different directions.2
  • Entropion is a condition that causes your eyelid to turn inward. When it does, your eyelashes can also grow inward toward your eyes.4
  • Distichiasis is an extra row of eyelashes that grow in the wrong spot on your eyelids.8
  • Trachoma, which is caused by bacteria from Chlamydia, can scar the conjunctiva and affect your lash growth.9
  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus is basically like shingles in your eye. It can cause inflammation and lead to scarring that can affect your lashes.6
  • An eyelid stye may be the culprit for misdirected eyelashes.7
  • Certain autoimmune disorders can cause recurring eye infections, which can ultimately cause trichiasis.
  • Epiblepharon, a congenital disorder characterized by folded-over eyelids, can force eyelashes to grow in the wrong direction.5

Not all causes of trichiasis are cause for concern. But trichiasis can lead to bigger problems that can take a toll on your vision for the long haul.

How to Treat Ingrown Eyelashes

There are several ways to treat ingrown eyelashes.3

  • Epilation consists of plucking the lashes with forceps, but this treatment is not permanent. Hair can grow back.
  • Electrolysis uses an electric current to destroy the misdirected hair follicles, preventing those lashes from regrowing. However, it’s not always 100% effective for everyone. Almost half of patients still experience regrowth.
  • Eyelid surgery may be an option for severe cases. This surgery lifts the eyelids to redirect the lashes.
  • A bandage contact lens protects the cornea from misdirected eyelashes and can help it heal from any damage those lashes may have already done.1

To treat any infections caused by ingrown eyelashes, an eye care doctor may also prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

Removing an Ingrown Eyelash

While you may remove your ingrown eyelashes at home, doing so is not a permanent method. Eyelashes tend to grow back every three months on average.

Home Remedies for Ingrown Eyelashes

If you have irritation or pain from ingrown eyelashes, there are some steps you can take at home to provide some relief.

Here are some at-home remedies for treating your affected eyelashes and the surrounding skin.

  • Gently wipe your eyes with warm compresses
  • Flush irritated eyes with eye drops
  • Use a lubricating eye ointment on your eyes to soften the affected lashes

When Is Professional Treatment Necessary? 

Professional treatment is necessary if your ingrown lashes are causing corneal abrasion or affecting your day-to-day life. Talk to your eye doctor about what treatment options are right for you.

While ablation surgery may not be necessary, you may still be able to find another permanent solution for your case.

Prevention and Outlook

While you cannot prevent some causes of trichiasis, you can prevent others. You cannot prevent naturally occuring ingrown lashes, but you may be able to prevent bacterial infections that can cause them. 

Always wash your hands before touching your eyes. Cleaning off eye makeup before bed can also prevent infections that may cause trichiasis. Make sure to wash your face with a clean cloth.

Leaving trichiasis untreated can lead to more problems down the line. In severe cases, vision loss is possible. But the outlook is positive for trichiasis. There are tons of effective treatment options.


Trichiasis is not necessarily a serious condition, but it can cause irritation and pain that can hurt your eyes and vision more and more over time.

Various treatment options are available, depending on the severity of your abnormal eyelash growth. In the meantime, home remedies can help alleviate some of the symptoms of ingrown eyelashes.

Updated on  March 9, 2023
9 sources cited
Updated on  March 9, 2023
  1. Bandage Contact Lens.” Bandage Contact Lens - an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics.
  2. Blepharitis.” National Eye Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Boyd, Kierstan. “What Is Trichiasis?American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  4. Entropion.” StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf.
  5. Epiblepharon.” Epiblepharon - American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.
  6. Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus.” - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf.
  7. Stye.” Penn Medicine.
  8. Singh, Swati. “Distichiasis: An Update on Etiology, Treatment and Outcomes.” Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  9. Trachoma.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization.
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