The tiny parasitic insects known as head lice can infest the head and neck area and attach their eggs to the base of the hair shaft. Head lice do not cause disease, but they can itch and irritate the scalp. And excessive scratching can cause bacterial infection. But a number of products are available to treat head lice, including a new drug approved in April 2009 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
An estimated 6 to 12 million cases of head lice infestation occur each year in the United States...
Keep everything clean. Dangerous bacteria or fungi can grow in some cosmetic products, as well as their containers. Cleanliness can help prevent eye infections.
Always wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics, and be sure that any instrument you place near your eyes is clean. Be especially careful not to contaminate cosmetics by introducing microorganisms. For example, don't lay an eyelash wand on a countertop where it can pick up bacteria. Keep containers clean, since these may also be a source of contamination.
Don't moisten cosmetic products. Don't add saliva or water to moisten eye cosmetics. Doing so can introduce bacteria. Problems can arise if you overpower a product's preservative capability.
Don't share or swap. People can be harmed by others' germs when they share eye makeup. Keep this in mind when you come across "testers" at retail stores. If you do sample cosmetics at a store, be sure to use single-use applicators, such as clean cotton swabs.
Don't apply or remove eye makeup in a moving vehicle. Any bump or sudden stop can cause injury to your eye with a mascara wand or other applicator.
Check ingredients, including color additives. As with any cosmetic product sold to consumers, eye cosmetics are required to have an ingredient declaration on the label. If they don't, they are considered misbranded and illegal.
In the United States, the use of color additives is strictly regulated. Some color additives approved for cosmetic use in general are not approved for areas near the eyes.
If the product is properly labeled, you can check to see whether the color additives declared on the label are in FDA's List of Color Additives Approved for Use in Cosmetics. (Under "For More Information" below, see "Color Additives Approved for Use in Cosmetics" and "FDA's Import Alert for Cosmetics Containing Illegal Colors.")