What to Do If You Lose Your Eyelashes During Chemotherapy

The prospect of losing your hair can be overwhelming when undergoing chemotherapy. It may be even more distressing to hear you may possibly lose your eyelashes as well.

Eyelashes are an important feature for most people. They frame the eyes and, as with all hair, can be central to a person's self-image and sense of self-esteem.

Eyelashes aren't just for looks- losing them can potentially cause an increased risk of damage to the eye and possibly even decreased vision, as the protection eyelashes provide is lost when they fall out.

This article will review eyelash loss from chemotherapy, as well as how to prevent and treat it.

Fake Eyelashes in a box
Ikonica / Getty Images

Losing Eyelashes During Chemotherapy

Hair loss (alopecia) is a ​common side effect of chemotherapy and isn't just limited to the hair on your head. It is not uncommon to experience hair loss on one's legs, arms, pubic hair, eyebrows, and even eyelashes.

What can be even more bothersome is eyelashes often do not fall out until after chemotherapy is almost done or has been completed. Moreover, some will experience the thinning or shortening of lashes rather than a complete loss, while others will go through recurring cycles of loss and regrowth.

Hair Loss from Treatment

Not everyone undergoing treatment will lose their hair. Each person responds differently to chemo, with some classes of the drug more likely to cause hair loss than others. The drug dose itself can also be a factor, with lower doses often resulting in less lost hair.

How To Reduce Eyelash Loss

To help minimize the loss of your lashes:

  • Refrain from rubbing your eyes (or patting your lashes to see if they are still there).
  • Use a cotton ball and a natural eye makeup remover to gently wipe any makeup from your eyes.
  • Avoid heavy mascaras, especially waterproof ones or those that require warm water to remove. These can be too harsh on delicate lashes.

How To Manage Eyelash Loss

Even if you don't lose your eyelashes during chemo, you will likely find that they'll be pretty delicate. Those who do lose them will often find that the regrown lashes are fine, prone to breakage, or visibly sparse.

False Eyelashes

False eyelashes are an option that many consider but before using them check with your healthcare provider. There is a risk of infection when using these products, and it's possible to have an allergic reaction to the glue. 

False eyelashes are available at most drugstores and cosmetic counters, costing anywhere from $3 to $100 a pair. Before putting them on, you should always spot-test the glue on the inside of your arm to confirm whether you have an allergy.

Using false eyelashes can be a little tricky. This is especially true if you have no real eyelashes to situate the false ones. In this case, you may want to speak with someone at the cosmetic counter who can give you tips on apply them.

Prescription Treatments

A newer, topical treatment may help you re-grow your lashes. Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) is an FDA-approved product that stimulates eyelash growth and darkening. It is applied topically to the base of the lashes each night. Results can vary and are typically seen after eight weeks of use.

As with false eyelashes, you should check with your healthcare provider or oncologist before use and always do a spot check on your arm. Insurance may cover the cost of Latisse but will most often require a pre-authorization letter or phone call from your practitioner.


Sometimes loss of eyelashes can occur as a side effect of chemotherapy. It can be a distressing symptom and potentially damage the eyes.

Treating eyelashes delicately and with care can help keep lashes intact and reduce the amount falling out.

Latisse is available to help eyelashes grow, including lashes lost from chemotherapy.

A Word From Verywell

Eyelash loss from chemotherapy can be upsetting and may affect someone's self-esteem as they go through treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the chemotherapy you're getting can cause eyelashes to fall out, and if so, ask about tips of things you can do to help decrease this.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take for eyelashes to grow back after chemo?

    The time for eyelash regrowth can vary. One study found that about 46% of women with breast cancer who lost their eyelashes from breast cancer treatment had over 80% of their eyelashes back in less than a year. For some, it took longer than one year for full regrowth.

  • Does it hurt to lose eyelashes due to chemotherapy?

    Typically, eyelashes do not hurt when they fall out. If there is an infection at the root of the eyelid, or if the eyelashes are pulled out, there may be some discomfort.

  • How can you help your eyelashes grow?

    Eyelashes can begin to regrow after chemotherapy is finished but can take months to years for them to grow back completely. Using Latisse has increased lash length more quickly than growing on its own.

    It can also be helpful to treat lashes gently, do not pull or rub them. Use gentle cleansers and avoid cosmetics.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Watanabe T, Yagata H, Saito M, et al. A multicenter survey of temporal changes in chemotherapy-induced hair loss in breast cancer patientsPLOS ONE. 2019;14(1):e0208118. doi: doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0208118

  3. Rossi A, Fortuna MC, Caro G, et al. Chemotherapy-induced alopecia management: Clinical experience and practical adviceJ Cosmet Dermatol. 2017;16(4):537–541. doi:10.1111/jocd.12308

  4. Aumond S., Bitton E. The eyelash follicle features and anomalies: A reviewJournal of Optometry. 2018;11(4):211-222. doi: doi.org/10.1016/j.optom.2018.05.003

  5. Kim YJ, Chung JK. Bilateral Eyelid Contact Dermatitis and Toxic Conjunctivitis due to Acrylate-Containing GlueAnn Dermatol. 2014;26(4):543–544. doi:10.5021/ad.2014.26.4.543

  6. Allergan, Inc. LATISSE: Highlights of Prescribing Information.

By Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Julie is an Adult Nurse Practitioner with oncology certification and a healthcare freelance writer with an interest in educating patients and the healthcare community.

Originally written by Lisa Fayed