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What Is an Ingrown Eyelash and How to Remove It Safely

What Is an Ingrown Eyelash?

Ingrown eyelashes are diagnosed or also known as trichiasis. They occur when the hair follicles found on the eyelid grow inward instead of outward, causing irritation and inflammation. An ingrown eyelash can occur in both or either of the top and bottom eyelids and lash lines.

Ingrown eyelashes are treatable often with over-the-counter treatments and are removed.

What Can Cause an Ingrown Eyelash?

Example of healthy eyelashes

There is a long list of causes that can create ingrown lashes. From injury to illness, a hair follicle can easily be triggered to grow inward.


Entropion is a condition where your eyelid will turn inward, causing the eyelashes to also turn inward. While the lashes aren’t exactly ingrown, this condition can cause significant discomfort as the eyelashes will rub against the eye’s cornea and lead to eye irritation.

Injury to the Eyes

Any injury sustained to the eyes can lead to several symptoms, including ingrown eyelashes. Inflammation is a common symptom when the eye is injured, as the area is sensitive and easily damaged. Inflammation can lead to an ingrown eyelash due to the eyelid being disrupted or blocked for proper growth.


Distichiasis is a condition that causes a second row of eyelashes to grow. This condition isn’t common and can be full rows of eyelashes or single lashes. This abnormal eyelash growth can occur on both the lower eyelid and the upper eyelid.


Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelid margin. With this condition, the eyelid can become itchy and irritated, leading to redness, soreness, crusted eyelashes, and a stinging sensation. Eyelash growth can become inhibited due to this condition.

Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus

This condition is also known as shingles, which is a viral disease. This disease isn’t limited to the eye area but can spread to this region as it is categorized as a painful skin rash. Only between 10 and 20 percent of people who experience this rash will have it spread to their eyes, but cases that do experience eye irritation, redness, watery eyes, and more.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders are conditions where the body’s cells will begin to attack the body, and can occur in almost any part of the body. The eyes are a common area for autoimmune disorders to present. This can happen due to disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid dysregulation and diseases, and multiple sclerosis, which can result in ingrown lashes.


This is a medical condition that is most common among Asian Americans. Epiblepharon is the occurrence of folded skin appearing in the eyelid region of the eyes. Although epiblepharon is considered a pediatric condition, it is common in adults as well.


Experiencing psoriasis around the eyes is less common, but can still happen. Skin discoloration and the cracking of skin can occur and eventually could make your eyelids difficult to open and close. The eyelids may also curve inward or outward, which can disrupt how your eyelashes grow.

Eye Infections

Any eye infection runs the risk of affecting your eyelashes. Affected eyelashes may experience irritation due to bacterial infection or the swelling of your eyes. Infections include pink eye, styes, fungal keratitis, and trachoma, to name a few.

Eyelid Surgery

Similar to when your eye is injured, having surgery on your eyelids can lead to ingrown eyelashes. This is often caused by scar tissue and the healing skin tissue, leading to ingrown hair where your eyelash grows.


As we age, our eyelashes change and become thinner. Their fullness and strength will fade, and sometimes the growth process can go in the wrong direction.


Similar to other skin conditions, eczema can spread toward the eye. There are multiple types of eczema focused on the eyes, including contact dermatitis, blepharitis, and allergic conjunctivitis. Any of these can impact where your eyelashes regrow and lead to ingrown eyelashes.

What Are Ingrown Eyelash Symptoms?

Example of redness and irritation

Foreign Sensations

When experiencing an ingrown eyelash, you might feel as if there is something in your eye, but you can’t find the object. These sensations can lead to irritation, rapid blinking, and other sensations that can be frustrating and painful to deal with.

Eye Redness

Because of how your eyelashes are growing toward your eye rather than away, ingrown eyelashes can cause severe redness. This symptom is often paired with swelling, depending on the cause of the ingrown lashes.

Blurry Vision

Depending on the cause of your ingrown lashes, you might experience vision blurriness. This can make it difficult to see on a regular basis until the problem is corrected.

Watery Eyes

Paired with blurred vision, your eyes might begin to water as a result of the constant irritation. This is the body’s natural response as it tries to remove the irritant from your eyes.

Eye Pain

One of the first signs of an ingrown eyelash is going to be a source of irritation and pain in the eye. The affected lashes will continue to cause pain until adequately diagnosed and corrected.

Sensitivity to Light

Because of the irritation, your eyes experience due to the ingrown hairs, your eye will spend more time closed to avoid the pain. However, this can lead to an increased sensitivity to the light.

Ingrown Eyelash Treatment

Eyedrops can help to flush out other impurities


This type of hair removal can be used on the eyes and is done so with the help of an epilator device. This device is inserted into the skin and uses short radio frequencies to stunt hair growth. This will help to prevent ingrown hair from growing.


There are different types of surgery that can address issues with ingrown eyelashes, including ablation surgery or laser hair removal. Cryosurgery may also be an option, which uses intense cold to rid the eyelid of the tissues hiding the hair follicles in place.

Bandage Contact Lenses

Bandage lenses are used for ocular diseases, which can be the go-to option if your ingrown lashes are due to the conditions previously mentioned. Their main use is to protect your eye as it heals while providing pain relief and allowing your eye the space it needs to heal well.

Home Remedies

There are a few home remedies you can try before heading to the doctor’s office. Before thinking that you will need to have surgery, you can try using:

  • Aloe vera
  • Coconut oil
  • Honey
  • Cucumbers
  • Warm compress

Aloe vera is useful in decreasing the inflammation in your eyelids while being gentle and cooling on the skin. Aloe vera gel can help naturally release the ingrown hair, but it won’t address the initial cause of the problem.

Coconut oil is used more for temporary relief, rather than as a cure. However, it can help dissolve blockages in the eyelid’s hair follicles, which can help prevent hair loss from your eyes. Gently warm the oil in your hands and use a clean mascara brush to carefully apply the oil to your lash line.

Honey may seem like a sticky and undesirable choice, but it’s useful for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. So, using honey will help to decrease your inflamed eyelids, as well as helps to prevent infection. Simply mix a bit of natural honey with warm water and use a warm towel to apply as a compress.

If you use a warm compress, with or without honey, cucumbers are a nice way to cool down. Cucumber slices can also decrease inflammation and combine well with any of these other home remedies.

An old-fashioned warm compress does wonders for relaxing an irritating ache and sore, including ingrown hairs.

How to Prevent Ingrown Eyelashes

The only way in hopes of preventing an ingrown eyelash from happening is to practice good facial hygiene and eyelash hygiene. Eyelashes are sensitive hairs that grow in an already sensitive area on our faces and should be treated as such.

Eyelashes develop best and flourish when hydrated with lash serums and gently brushed using a spoolie, or a clean mascara brush. Brushing your eyelashes can help to promote your lash growth away from your eyelid and not toward the eye.

Keeping your skin clean can help to reduce the risk of developing ingrown eyelashes. This can be tricky, especially if you live with a skin condition that affects your face. Using gentle cleansers helps to clear out any bacteria that can cling to your eyelashes and cause ingrown hairs.

How to Remove an Ingrown Eyelash

Professionals know best how to approach an ingrown eyelash

It is possible to pluck ingrown eyelashes out of your eyelids. You can pluck them out yourself or get someone you trust to do so. It’s often more preferred to have someone else pluck the ingrown lash out, though. However, you should seek professional medical advice before doing so.

However, in the case of children, it is best to leave the ingrown hairs to a professional. Children are more prone to flailing and moving when they shouldn’t, and there lies the fear of accidentally poking them in the eye with your finger. Instead, try flushing their eye out first with saline or eye drops.

Key Takeaways

Ingrown hairs in the eyelids are not something to take lightly but can be treated with care until a professional or eye doctor steps in. The condition shouldn’t be left untreated and proper treatment is highly recommended.

An eye doctor will know which treatment is the best option for you, depending on conditions you may have and other factors. The eye doctor will also know other symptoms to look for as well as help your lashes from growing in the wrong direction again.

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