Old Makeup Can Cause Serious Eye Infections
That mascara wand can do more than just make your lashes longer. It can also give
you an eye infection.
Every year, many women end up with eye infections from cosmetics. In rare cases, women
have been temporarily or permanently blinded by an eye cosmetic, according to the
Eyelashes naturally have bacteria on them. As soon as you use a makeup brush on the
eyelash or eyelid, the brush is contaminated, according to experts.
Over time, the infected brush leads to a buildup of bacteria in the cosmetics container.
This increases the chance for an eye infection or an allergic reaction with each use
of the product.
Beware of scratches
Pieces of makeup can land in the eyes and cause redness and irritation. More serious,
infections that threaten sight can result if the surface of the eye is scratched with
an infected brush or makeup pencil.
Most cosmetics have long shelf lives, but since they can be infected with bacteria
after only one use, it is a good idea to keep track of how long you have been using
products like mascara and eyeliners. Although there are no guidelines for cosmetics
use, risk of infection can be reduced if you change them every 3 to 4 months, experts
Also, avoid sharing cosmetics. Cross contamination happens when two or more people
use the same brushes or eyeliners. The main danger with sharing makeup is passing
on an infection like viral conjunctivitis or pink eye. Exposure to even a small amount
of virus can lead to a very uncomfortable infection.
If you experience signs of a viral infection, including discharge, swelling of the
eyelids, or inflammation of the white of the eye, make an appointment with your eye
The FDA offers the following tips for the proper use of eye cosmetics:
Immediately stop using eye products that cause irritation. If irritation persists,
see a healthcare provider.
Wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics. If you don't, the bacteria on your
hands could cause an infection.
Make sure that any cosmetic tool you place near the eye is clean.
Don't allow cosmetics to become covered with dust or infected with dirt or soil. Wipe
off the container with a damp cloth if you can see dust or dirt.
Don't use old containers of eye cosmetics. If you haven't used the product for several
months, it's better to throw it out and buy a new one.
Don't spit into eye cosmetics. The bacteria in your mouth may grow in the cosmetic
and later use may cause an eye infection.
Don't share your cosmetics. Another person's bacteria in your cosmetic can be harmful
Don't store cosmetics at temperatures above 85°F (29°C). Cosmetics held for long periods
in hot cars, for example, are more at risk of weakening the preservative.
Avoid using eye cosmetics if you have an eye infection or the skin around the eye
is red. Wait until the area is healed.
Take extra care in using eye cosmetics if you have any allergies.
When applying or removing eye cosmetics, be careful not to scratch the eyeball or
some other sensitive area of the eye.