Wearers of eyelash extensions who suffer from eye irritation may have a buildup of microscopic mites eating their skin, not lice.
Recent reports called the creatures eyelash lice when they're actually mites, a "problematic" confusion according to doctors.
Gregory Nixon of the Ohio State University College of Optometry told USA Today people are confusing the term demodex for lice when it's actually mites, and there's an important distinction between the two.
He said lice are parasites that suck blood and can often be seen by the naked eye, whereas mites are microscopic and eat dead skin cells.
Dr Nixon added that mites don't normally cause issues, but problems can arise if there's a buildup of them around the eye. This can cause itching, irritation, redness, scaling and flaking.
He said the best way to prevent an infection is to establish a daily routine of washing around the eyes with warm, soapy water, something he found a lot of eyelash extension-wearers neglected.
"When you get eyelash extensions, a lot of patients neglect the normal hygiene that go into taking care of your normal eyelash," he told USA Today.
Ophthalmologist Craig See of the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute said irritation from false lashes or eyelash extensions is often from the adhesive, and usually disappears after the lashes are removed. He said a buildup of mites can be treated with tea tree oil or, in rare cases, medication.