What causes double eyelashes and how is it treated?

double eyelashes

Double eyelashes, also known as distichiasis, are a rare condition in which two rows of eyelashes grow together. The second row could be made up of a single lash, a few hairs, or a full set of lashes information at lashes guide.

Extra lashes are typically thinner, shorter, and lighter in color than regular lashes.You may or may not be experiencing any symptoms, but if you are, you may notice the following:

  • a light sensitivity (photophobia)
  • conjunctivitis
  • corneal irritation
  • styes
  • eyelids that are droopy (ptosis)

Distichiasis is usually congenital or present from birth. A heart-related genetic mutation may cause it. Distichiasis can develop later in life if your eyelids become inflamed or injured. This article will look at the causes, risk factors, and treatment options for double eyelashes.


Distichiasis can be passed down through the generations or acquired after birth. The cause will determine your symptoms and any potential complications.

At the time of birth

A unique genetic mutation of the FOXC2 gene on chromosome 16 is the most common cause of congenital distichiasis. During embryonic development, this gene aids lymphatic and blood vessel development.

A genetic mutation causes double eyelashes that scientists aren’t sure about. On the other hand, Congenital distichiasis is usually associated with lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome, a rare condition (LDS).

Double eyelashes and lymphedema, or oedema in the body’s tissues, are symptoms of LDS.The fluid, also known as lymph, leaks from blood vessels into the tissues. Normally, the lymphatic system drains and filters this fluid through lymphatic vessels.

However, if the lymphatic vessels aren’t functioning properly, fluid builds up in the tissue, causing swelling. Swelling in both legs is common in people with LDS.

The lymphatic vessels in LDS could be:

  • underdeveloped
  • obstructed
  • malformed
  • incorrectly operating

LDS has also been linked to the following conditions:

  • Varicose veins that appear early in life
  • scoliosis
  • cleft lip and palate
  • abnormalities of the heart structure
  • atypical heartbeat

Congenital heart disease affects about 5% of people with LDS due to heart defects caused by the disease. Distichiasis can be inherited without lymphedema, but this is extremely rare.

Later in life development

Distichiasis acquired after birth or the development of double eyelashes after birth is less common than congenital distichiasis.

Inflammation or injury to the eyelid causes it. Among the most common causes are:

  • Blepharitis is a type of chronic blepharitis that affects the eyes. Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids caused by a skin or bacterial infection. Some of the symptoms are excessive tearing, dryness, itching, swelling, and burning.
  • Ocular cicatricial pemphigoid is a type of cicatricial pemphigoid that affects the (OCP). OCP is a unique autoimmune disorder that causes conjunctivitis that is chronic or recurrent. This irritates, burns, and swells in the eyes.
  • Dysfunction of the meibomian gland (MGD). The meibomian glands produce abnormal discharge and hypersecretion in MGD. In addition, the glands are inflamed.
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a condition that affects people (SGS). This is a rare side effect of a drug or an infection. Chronic inflammation of the skin, including the eyelids, is a side effect.
  • Injuries caused by chemicals A chemical burn to your eyelids can result in a lot of swelling.

Risk factors

The most significant risk factor for congenital distichiasis is genetics. If one of your parents has the disease, you’re more likely to inherit it. In fact, about 75% of people with LDS have a parent who has the condition.

On the other hand, Acquired distichiasis can be caused by a number of different things. These health issues have been linked to:

Eyelid inflammation is a condition in which the eyelids become inflamed. You’re more likely to develop inflamed eyelids if you have seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff on your scalp and brows.

Risk factors include allergies, rosacea, bacterial infections, clogged oil glands on your eyelids, and eyelash mites or lice.

  • Being a woman. Females are twice as likely to develop OCP as males.
  • Getting older. Older people are more likely to have OCP and MGD.
  • Contact lenses are worn. MGD is linked to the use of contact lenses.
  • Certain medications are prescribed. Glaucoma medication users are more likely to develop MGD. Pain relievers and medications can also cause gout, seizures, infections, and mental illness for Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
  • Immune system is weakened. Stevens-Johnson syndrome is more likely if your immune system is compromised.

You’re more likely to develop a condition that causes distichiasis if you have these risk factors.


If you don’t have any symptoms, you probably won’t need treatment. If you do have symptoms, however, your treatment will focus on how to manage them. It could also entail getting rid of the extra eyelashes.

The best treatment for you will be determined by the number of extra lashes you have and your symptoms. Among the possibilities are:

Lubricating eye drops

Lubricating eye drops can help relieve mild eye irritation. The additional lubrication protects the cornea from extra lashes.

Soft contact lenses

Soft contact lenses, like lubrication, provide a layer of protection. To avoid complications, make sure you’re wearing your contact lenses correctly. The best practices for wearing contact lenses can be explained by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.


Epilation is the process of removing the lashes using an epilator, which is an electronic device. It physically removes them.

The lashes will usually grow back in two to three weeks, so this is only a temporary solution. It’s only a good idea if you have a few extra lashes, to begin with.


Cryotherapy destroys eyelash follicles by exposing them to extreme cold. If you have a lot of extra lashes, this method is ideal.

While cryotherapy has long-term effects, it can also lead to:

  • loss of eyelashes in the vicinity
  • thinning of the outer edge of the eyelids
  • scarring on the eyelids
  • depigmentation of the lids
  • Electrolysis

Electrolysis, like epilation, works best for removing a few eyelashes at a time. A needle is inserted into the eyelash follicle during the procedure. The follicle is destroyed by a short-wave frequency applied by the needle.

Lid splitting

Lid splitting is an eye surgery procedure. The eyelid is split open, revealing the follicles of the eyelashes.

Individually, the extra eyelashes are removed. Lid splitting is sometimes combined with cryotherapy or electrolysis.

Argon laser thermoablation

This treatment involves repeatedly applying argon laser burns to the lash follicles, which destroys them.You may experience a mild discomfort and increased tear flow during the procedure.


Lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome (LDS), caused by a rare genetic mutation, is linked to double eyelashes.

Because LDS is linked to congenital heart defects, it’s critical to keep an eye on your heart health if you have it.

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If your eyelids become inflamed after birth, you may develop distichiasis. If you are experiencing eye or discomfort, a doctor can assist you in determining the best treatment options.