What Is Madarosis? Its Causes, Associated Symptoms And Treatments

Madarosis is a medical name given for loss of eyelashes and eyebrows. In Greek the meaning of madaros is baldness. There are many reasons for loss of eyelash. The cause can be systemic disease or it can be local. A patient suffering from madarosis should always seek medical assistance to find the underlying reason.

Apart from cosmetic dilemma, stress and anxiety related to the symptom, madarosis in itself is not serious. But at the same time it can be a symptom of a serious condition which should not be neglected.

What Causes Loss Of Eyelashes And Eyebrows?

  • Blepheritis: inflammation of eyelids is called blepheritis.
    It is one of the main reasons for loss of eyelashes. Infection, allergy, trauma are responsible for inflammation of eyelids. Bacterial infection such as staphylococcal aureus, leprosy, parasitic infections with mite such as demodex folli, viral infection such as Herpes Zoster, measles, and fungal infection such as Chlamydia trachomatis, are prominent causes for loss of eyelash and eyebrows.
  • Trauma to the eyelids either from burns, surgical procedures can lead to one sided or bilateral madarosis.
  • Allergy to cosmetic substances such as mascara can lead to loss of eyelashes.
  • Trichotillomania is a psychiatric disorder where the person pull hair anywhere from the body, which also includes eyelashes and eyebrows.
  • Alopecia totalis is an autoimmune disease where there is complete hair loss from the body. Scleroderma and discoid lupus are other autoimmune disease where one of the symptoms may be that of madarosis.
  • Tumors of eyelids, most common being Chalazion (non cancerous swelling) can result in loss of eyelash.
  • Endocrine disorders involving thyroid and pituitary gland such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, hypopituitarism can cause madarosis.
  • Chemotherapy, radiation, anticholesterol drugs, drugs used for heart ailment etc, are responsible for madarosis.
  • Loss of eyelashes is one of the symptoms of Arsenic, thallium, and bismuth poisoning.

Associated Symptoms Of Madarosis

Loss of hair from eyelids is the symptom that defines Madarosis. Since Madarosis is due to an underlying cause, the symptoms are that of the disease involved.

  • In case of blepheritis, the patient may have swollen eyelids, which may intensely itch and burn. Both the eyelids may become red and sore.
  • In case of leprosy, there may be associated symptoms of loss of hair from other parts of the body. Loss of sensation is characteristic of leprosy disease.
  • Person suffering from Trichotillomania may compulsively pull out body hairs.
  • In alopecia areata, the first symptom is hair loss in patches over the scalp. In some cases there may be associated loss of eyelash. ┬áIt may be associated with scarring and inflammation of the eyelid.
  • Symptoms of hypothyroidism may be present with madarosis. This may include weight gain, palpitation, non pitting edema etc. The hair of eyelash may turn brittle, dull, and coarse before they fall off.
  • If the cause is due to intake of medications to control cholesterol or hypertension or heart ailment, the eyelash will grow again once the medications are stopped or they have been substituted with other medicines.

Treatment Options For Madarosis

It is important to find the cause which leads to madarosis. Most of the time, treating the cause reverses Madarosis.

  1. If madarosis is due to blepheritis, use of anti-inflammatory medicines and antibiotics are effective in controlling infection and inflammation. Along with it, eye scrub and eye massage may also benefit.
  2. Behavioral therapy is useful for patients suffering from Trichotillomania. Often they may also need psychiatric medications.
  3. In case of chalazion, use of boric powder is beneficial. Take a cup of warm water and add a pinch of boric powder. Stir water for few minutes. Soak small cotton ball in it and apply over the eyelids. It helps to reduce redness, swelling and secondary infection. Many times chalazion subsides after few days.

Alternative treatment is to camouflage the hair loss by using eyeliner. Many people also opt for permanent tattooing when there is no possibility of re-growth of eyelashes.