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Will I Lose My Eyelashes During Chemotherapy?

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Updated April 29, 2014

Question: Will I Lose My Eyelashes During Chemotherapy?
My doctor told me that I will likely lose my hair to chemotherapy. Does this include my eyelashes as well?
Answer: Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy treatment. Unfortunately, loss isn't limited to the hair on the head, but also the eyelashes. In fact, all hair on the body can fall victim to chemotherapy, including leg, arm, and pubic hair. Even eyebrows are at risk. Not everyone who undergoes chemotherapy will lose their hair, though. Each person responds differently to chemotherapy and some drugs are more likely to cause hair loss than others. The dosage level of chemotherapy is also a factor in whether someone will lose their hair or not -- lower dosages usually equal lesser side effects.

While eyelash loss isn't as common as losing the hair on your head, it does occur and can be disturbing for men and women undergoing chemotherapy. You can cover a bald head with a wig or a cap, but there aren't many remedies for lost eyelashes. Even more bothersome is that sometimes the eyelashes do not fall out until long after chemotherapy has been completed. Some people experience thinning or shortening of the lashes instead of complete loss. It is not uncommon for those who lose their eyelashes to go through recurring cycles of loss and regrowth.

False eyelashes may be an option for some, but you should always check with your doctor before using them. There is a risk of infection by using false eyelashes, plus you may have an allergy to the glue. False eyelashes are available at most drug stores and cosmetic counters for about $3 to $100.

Latisse, an FDA approved treatment used to stimulate eyelash growth and darkening, may be recommended for some who have lost their eyelashes to chemotherapy. It is applied topically to the base of the lashes each night. Results are typically seen after 8 weeks of use. Insurance providers may cover the cost of Latisse, but may require a letter or personal phone call from your physician for approval.

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