or simply lash
is one of the hairs that grow at the edge of the eyelid
. Eyelashes protect the eye
from debris and perform some of the same function as whiskers
do on a cat
or a mouse
in the sense that they are sensitive
to being touched, thus providing a warning that an object (such as an insect
mite) is near the eye (which is then closed reflexively
The eyelashes of the embryo develop between the 7th and 8th week. Eyelashes take about seven to eight weeks to grow back if pulled out. Their color may differ from that of the hair, although they tend to be dark on someone with dark hair and lighter on someone with light hair.
The follicles of eyelashes are associated with a number of glands known as the Glands of Zeis and the Glands of Moll.
Long eyelashes are considered a sign of femininity in most if not all cultures. Accordingly, some women seek to enhance their eyelash length artificially to appear more feminine and sexually desirable. See also eyelash extensions.
Kohl has been worn as far back as the Bronze Age to protect and enhance lashes.
Complete eye makeup includes mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow to emphasize the eyes. The twentieth century saw the beginning of convincing-looking false eyelashes, popular in the 1960s.
There are a number of diseases or disorders involving the eyelashes:
- Madarosis is the loss of eyelashes
- Blepharitis is the irritation of the lid margin (where eyelashes join the eyelid). Eyelids are red and itching. The skin often becomes flaky. The eyelashes may fall.
- Distichiasis is the abnormal growth of lashes from certain areas of the eyelid.
- Trichiasis is ingrown eyelashes
- Eyelashes may become infested with crab louse parasites
- An external hordeolum, or stye, is a purulent inflammation of infected eyelash follicles and surrounding sebaceous (Zeis) and apocrine (Moll) glands of the lid margin.
- Trichotillomania is a disorder that urges the sufferer to pull out scalp hair, eyelashes, etc.
- Demodex folliculorum (or the demodicid), is a small mite that lives, harmlessly, in eyelash and other hair follicles and around 98% of people have these mites living on them. Occasionally they can cause blepharitis.
Eyelash and eyebrow transplant surgeries may be help to reconstruct or thicken lashes or eyebrow hair.
Lashes, being hair, are found in mammals. Camels' lashes are remarkably long and thick, and giraffe's eyelashes are considered by some to be more beautiful than a human's. Horses, cows, and also ostriches, (vestigial feathers without barbs) feature eyelashes as well.
Inherited eyelash problems are common in some breeds of dogs.
Eyelash vipers show a set of modified scales over the eyes which look much like eyelashes.
Hornbills have prominent feather eyelashes, an uncommon feature in birds.