The Truth about “Eye Lice”


An image of a child's eyelashes infested with nits.
Signs of lice on the eyelashes include itching, irritation, redness, and visible nits attached to the lashes.

When a parent discovers a lice infestation, often the first thing they do (besides feel very itchy!) is take to the internet to research lice and how it should be treated. Anyone who has researched head lice will know that there is a lot of information out there but you may have stumbled upon images or videos about getting lice on the eyes. If you have never seen anyone have lice on their eyes and your child does not appear to have them there, this begs the question: how does this happen and could it happen to my child?

It is important to note that lice in the eyelashes are rare and are NOT caused by having head lice. Head lice can only live on the head and will not spread to other areas of the body. If a child is found to have lice in the eyelashes the issue should be confirmed by a doctor and further investigation is needed.

The only strain of lice that can inhabit the eyelashes is pubic lice. Children found to have pubic lice on their eyelashes or eyebrows could have been exposed to sexual contact with an infested individual. Great care should be taken to treat the lice and to find the source of the infestation. Reoccurring infestations should be taken very seriously.

Lice in the eyelashes are also a problem that can affect adults. This can be from a consensual encounter with an individual who has a pubic lice infestation. As with any STD, a person who has gotten pubic lice should inform their partners and try to track down the source. A physician should be consulted to treat the affected area. A doctor will write a prescription for an ophthalmic-grade petrolatum ointment that should be applied to the area 2-4 times a day for up to 10 days.

When lice are found in the eyelashes, the hair on other areas of the body should be checked as well. It is possible for pubic lice to be found in these areas and will need to be treated or removed to fully eliminate the problem. Any towels, blankets, or clothes the affected individual has used recently should also be washed. Inspect the eyes and other treated areas for a few weeks to ensure the infestation does not reoccur and has been eliminated.