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Infections Caused by Bacteria in Makeup

author image Leigh Ann Morgan
Leigh Ann Morgan began working as a writer in 2004. She has extensive experience in the business field having served as the manager of a $34 million rental property portfolio. Morgan also appeared as a guest on an episode of National Public Radio's "Marketplace Money" in 2005.
Infections Caused by Bacteria in Makeup
Makeup and cosmetic applicators can harbor bacteria and other organisms.

Cosmetic contamination leads to several types of infections that range in severity from mild to serious. Proper use of cosmetics reduces the risk of contracting an infection due to makeup use. The University of Kansas Medical Center recommends throwing mascara away after three to four months, foundation after one year and eye shadow after two years to reduce the risk of these infections. If you contract an infection, replace your cosmetics to reduce the chance of recurrence.

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Conjunctivitis defines conjunctivitis as an infection of the membrane that lines the eyelid and a portion of the eyeball. More commonly known as pink eye, this condition causes the small blood vessels in the membrane to enlarge. This causes the distinctive pink or red cast that gives this condition its name. Although this condition usually affects children, adults who use cosmetics can develop conjunctivitis if bacteria come in contact with the membrane. To reduce the risk of developing conjunctivitis, avoid sharing cosmetics with others and throw away eye cosmetics if they smell bad.


Microbial keratitis, also known as a corneal infection, occurs when bacteria come in contact with the cornea. The cornea covers the pupil and iris of the eye and has a domed shape. This condition usually occurs when bacteria contaminate contact lenses. If you put contact lenses in after using makeup, the bacteria in the makeup may contaminate one or both of your lenses. This allows the bacteria to attack the cornea, causing eye drainage, decreased vision, puffy eyelids and light sensitivity. Visit an ophthalmologist if you experience these symptoms, as keratitis may lead to blindness if not treated properly.


The University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center defines a stye as a small lump in the eyelid. This lump appears when chronic inflammation affects the meibomian glands, which produce oil. Usually, styes form as the result of trapped oil, but infection can also cause a stye. The glands can trap bacteria from cosmetic products, leading to inflammation and tenderness. Treatments for a stye include warm compresses, antibiotic drops, steroid drops, steroid injections and surgical drainage.


Blepharitis, or an infection of the eyelid, can occur as the result of a bacterial infection. If staphylococcus bacteria contaminate a cosmetic product, use of the product transfers the bacteria to the eye and increases the risk of blepharitis. Blepharitis causes light sensitivity, blurred vision, eye discharge, pain and redness of the eye. If the bacteria enter the meiobian glands, recurrent conjunctivitis may also occur.

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