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Doctors warn that eyelash extensions are helping lice spread

By New York Post

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(NEW YORK POST) – Eyelash extensions are turning into a beauty and the beast situation.

Doctors are warning fans of eyelash extensions to make sure they clean the beauty products carefully — because eyelash lice are on the rise.

The tiny organisms, officially called Demodex but better known as head lice, can survive on eye hair follicles as well as on the scalp.

Optometrists are reporting an increase in cases involving them and encouraging those who use eyelash extensions to clean them properly to stave off the vermin’s rising ranks, as well as general discomfort.

“Generally the idea when you have eyelash extensions is that people are afraid to kind of touch them or wash them because they’re afraid the eyelash will fall out,” Houston-based Dr. Sairah Malik tells ABC 13 News in San Francisco.

An increase in bacteria and symptoms ranging from redness, itchiness and inflammation can result from improper or infrequent cleaning of eyelash extensions. And, like head lice, eyelash lice are contagious.

Cleaning your eyelids is also critical, Malik adds. Tea tree oil can be used as an antibacterial.

“We recommend tea tree base cleanser,” Malik says. “Any cleanser that has a diluted form of tea tree, and it is a good idea to use on a daily basis.”

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are three types of eyelash extensions: synthetic, silk and mink. They are typically applied in a salon-type setting by a technician using tweezers and special, semi-permanent glue.

The AAO says the lashes typically last about three to four weeks — but Malik says taking a periodic break from extensions, and not overusing them, is vital for ideal eyelid health.

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