Madarosis can be caused by everything from conditions that irritate your skin to certain types of infections. If you notice your eyebrows or eyelashes falling out, visit a healthcare provider or eye care specialist. Madarosis is usually reversible, but losing your hair faster than usual is a sign that something is affecting the hair follicles in your eyebrows or eyelids.


What is madarosis?

Madarosis is the medical term for any condition or issue that makes your eyebrows or eyelashes fall out.

Your eyebrows protect the bones above your eyes. They also act like built-in sweatbands and prevent sweat from running down your forehead into your eyes. Your eyelashes act like filters that protect your eyes from dust and other small pieces of debris. They also trigger your eye’s natural reflex to blink or close if they’re disturbed.

Madarosis is different than the usual amount of hair or eyelashes you lose every day. It’s perfectly normal to find a few eyelashes on your pillow in the morning or see some hair on your washcloth after washing your face. If you’re experiencing madarosis, you’ll lose hair faster than usual, including in larger amounts or chunks than you typically do.

All of your hair is part of a growth cycle — new strands grow and take the place of older ones. Madarosis and other types of hair loss happen when you’re losing more than your hair follicles can naturally replace.

Depending on what’s causing madarosis, you’ll probably notice other symptoms in the skin on or near your eyes.

A healthcare provider or eye care specialist will diagnose and treat the condition that’s causing your eyebrows or eyelashes to fall out. How madarosis is treated depends on what’s causing your eyebrows or eyelashes to fall out.

Visit a healthcare provider or eye care specialist as soon as you notice any hair loss — especially if you’re experiencing other symptoms like pain or skin discoloration.

What are the types of madarosis?

Madarosis can cause two types of hair loss — your eyebrows and eyelashes.

Madarosis that makes your eyebrows fall out is called superciliary madarosis. Madarosis that affects your eyelashes is called ciliary madarosis.

Scarring madarosis vs non-scarring madarosis

Some conditions that cause madarosis lead to scarring on or under your skin. If whatever caused madarosis significantly damaged your hair follicles, the hair loss might be permanent.

Non-scarring madarosis is usually temporary and your eyebrow hair or eyelashes will grow back once you get treatment for the cause of madarosis.


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Possible Causes

What are the most common causes of madarosis?

Many issues and conditions can cause madarosis. The most common causes include conditions that affect your skin. Other health conditions that affect your eyes or immune system can cause it, too.

Skin conditions that cause madarosis

Some of the most common causes of madarosis are conditions that affect the skin on or near your eyes. Anything that damages or irritates your skin can affect your eyebrows or eyelashes. The most common skin conditions that cause madarosis include:

Autoimmune diseases that cause madarosis

An autoimmune disease results from your immune system accidentally attacking your body instead of protecting it. It’s unclear why your immune system does this. Autoimmune diseases can affect many types of tissues and nearly any organ in your body. Autoimmune diseases that can cause madarosis include:

Infections that cause madarosis

Infections that cause inflammation in your skin or that attack your hair follicles can cause madarosis. Some infections that can cause madarosis include:

Side effects and reactions that cause madarosis

Madarosis can be a side effect of treatments for certain health conditions. Drugs you take or cosmetic products you use on your skin can also cause it. Other causes of madarosis include:

Other causes of madarosis

Other health conditions that affect your hair, eyes or body systems that support your hair follicles can cause madarosis, including:

Care and Treatment

How is madarosis treated?

Providers don’t usually treat madarosis itself. They’ll treat the cause of madarosis, which will prevent more of your hair from falling out.

Which treatments you’ll need depends on which condition or reaction is causing your eyebrows or eyelashes to fall out.

An eye care specialist will perform an eye exam. They’ll look at the skin around your eyes and your eyes themselves (including inside them). An eye exam will help them rule out issues inside your eyes and will help them understand if your vision is affected or has changed.

After you get treatment for the condition or issue that caused madarosis, your hair should grow back. If you have scarring madarosis, it’s possible your eyebrows or eyelashes won’t grow back. Talk to an eye care specialist about hair transplant or cosmetic options that will work for you.


When To Call the Doctor

When should I visit a healthcare provider?

Visit a healthcare provider or eye care specialist as soon as you notice any changes in your eyes or the skin around them.

Go to the emergency room if you lose vision or can’t move your eyes.

Additional Common Questions

Hertoghe’s sign vs. madarosis

Madarosis is any loss of your eyebrow hair or eyelashes. Hertoghe’s sign is a more specific type of hair loss. It’s sometimes referred to as Queen Anne’s sign or lateral madarosis.

People with Hertoghe’s sign lose the hair on the outside third of their eyebrows (the side closer to your ears). It’s usually a symptom of hypothyroidism.

Visit a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any type of new hair loss.


Madarosis vs milphosis

You might see eyelash loss referred to as milphosis.

Healthcare providers sometimes use madarosis and milphosis interchangeably to mean your eyelashes are falling out.

Providers usually diagnose and treat madarosis and milphosis the same way. It’s important to get any hair loss examined as soon as you notice it so a provider can identify and treat the cause.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

You’re constantly growing and replacing hair all over your body. There’s a difference between the natural life cycle of hair and madarosis. Madarosis is sudden or noticeable hair loss on your eyebrows or eyelashes. Because so many issues or conditions can cause it, visit an eye care specialist or healthcare provider as soon as you notice any changes in or near your eyes.

Madarosis is usually reversible and, once you get treatment for the cause of your eyebrow or eyelash loss, your hair should return to its usual thickness.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/11/2023.

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