Whether it’s the result of a harsh winter or eczema, dry skin can affect skin all over your body — including your eyelids.
Eyelid skin is super thin, making it easy for your lovely lids to be affected by drying environmental factors, external irritants, skin conditions, or even *gulp* aging. Dry eyelids can also come with symptoms like itching, flaking, scaling, and redness or discoloration.
Here’s how dryness can affect the lids of your peepers and how you can treat dry eyelids.
Dry eyelid skin can sometimes be caused by an underlying or existing skin condition. Common conditions include:
- Contact dermatitis. This condition occurs when you come into contact with something that irritates your skin, including different face or body products, hair products, particles, or even the chlorine in a pool.
- Atopic dermatitis. A common type of eczema, this skin disorder can cause dryness, tenderness, redness or discoloration, and itchiness… oh, the itchiness! Atopic dermatitis usually starts in childhood and can continue to flare up throughout your life.
- Blepharitis. This is an eyelid disorder that causes inflammation on your eyelids caused by bacteria or clogged oil glands. It can also cause redness or discoloration, burning, and crusting.
The environment can be way harsh. Cold weather, dry air, or even extreme heat can all affect your skin.
Living in a dry climate or winter wonderland can suck the moisture right out of your skin. Investing in a humidifier can be a good way to help you lock in moisture while you’re inside during these drying times.
Thought pimples and acne were your biggest foes? While you may enjoy less acne-prone skin as you age, that’s partially because your skin gets dryer with age — including the thin skin on your eyelids.
When you get older, your skin produces less oil and you actually lose some sweat and oil glands. These help your body stay naturally lubricated, so as they go away, you get dryer skin. More reason to make moisturizing a priority — especially if you’re nearing the big 4-0 (we see you, elder millennials… and we feel you).
Dry skin is very uncomfy, especially when it’s on your delicate eyelid area. Along with tell-tale dryness, there are a variety of other symptoms associated with dry eyelids.
Common symptoms of dry eyelids include:
- flaking or scaling
- burning or stinging
- irritation, rawness, and redness or discoloration
- wrinkly appearance or loose skin
These symptoms can range in severity, from slightly annoying to painful AF. Some folks don’t even notice eyelid dryness, while others experience symptoms that make it hard to blink or even open their eyes.
Some cases of dry eyelids can be healed with moisturizing over-the-counter (OTC) eye creams, while others may need something with a little more oomph, like a prescription ointment. It all depends on what’s causing your dry skin in the first place (Pssst, a doctor or dermatologist can help you out!).
Common types of treatments include:
- topical ointments or moisturizers
- topical corticosteroids (OTC or prescription)
Your doctor or dermatologist may also recommend treatment for secondary symptoms you might experience from dry eyelids. This might be prescribing antibiotics to treat a related eye infection or putting a skin care routine together to keep the dryness at bay.
Actively avoiding any triggers or irritants that make your lids go dry can help, too. Try to steer clear of using harsh chemicals around your eyes found in face washes, serums, sunscreens, or any of your fave beauty products.
Be careful with corticosteroids
Topical corticosteroids are super strong topicals that are used to ease inflammation. But because eyelid skin is super thin and delicate, corticosteroids are not recommended for long-term use to treat dry eyelids.
Prolonged use may lead to side effects, like:
- increased intraocular pressure
- skin atrophy
- periocular dermatitis
- blurry vision
Make sure you get your dermatologist’s blessing before using any corticosteroids for dry eyelids.
If you’re dealing with dry skin that just happens to be on your eyelids, try these tips:
- Moisturizing, moisturizing, and moisturizing! The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends applying moisturizer several times a day. That includes within 5 minutes of washing or bathing and whenever your skin starts to feel dry.
- Fragrance-free’s the way to be! Avoid moisturizers, facial cleansers, or other face products that have strong scents or other unnecessary added chemicals.
- Embrace humidity. Using a humidifier can help add moisture to the surrounding air, helping skin stay hydrated.
- Avoid long, hot showers. Keep baths or showers short and sweet, and don’t use super hot or super cold water. Instead, opt for lukewarm temps to prevent your skin from drying out.
- Be cool. Eyes feeling dry, irritated, or itchy? Gently applying a cold compress can help provide relief.
- No touchy! Try to keep your hands off your face as much as possible. Too much touching can bring the germs from your fingers right onto your skin, including your sensitive eye area.
- Be safe in the sun. To keep your skin healthy, always wear sunscreen and avoid too much sun exposure.
- Keep away from irritants. If there are things you know make your eyelids dry AF, steer clear! Avoiding known triggers can help prevent dryness from worsening, or sometimes even occurring in the first place.
Keep in mind that home remedies work best for less severe cases. Talk with your dermatologist if you experience any reactions or your symptoms get worse.
✅ Ingredient check!
To quench super thirsty lids, take a look at the ingredient lists on your moisturizers of choice. Look for products that contain ingredients like:
- shea butter
- olive oil
- jojoba oil
- lanolin oil
- petrolatum (aka petroleum jelly)
- lactic acid
If your dry lids are getting worse or are starting to affect your daily activities, it’s time to talk with a medical pro. Your doctor or dermatologist can determine if an underlying condition — like atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, or blepharitis — is at play.
Also, it’s a good idea to give your doc a call, about:
- at-home or OTC remedies that aren’t working
- dryness that’s been going on for a while
- symptoms getting worse
- new symptoms arising
- suspicions of larger health concerns
They can also offer prescription treatment options and work with you to set a care plan based on your skin needs.
Dry eyelids can be caused by a variety of different factors, from environmental triggers and aging to underlying skin conditions.
Besides a general “dry skin” feeling, you may also experience other symptoms like itching, flaking, scaling, and redness or discoloration.
You can often soothe dry lid symptoms with OTC creams or moisturizers, as well as other home remedies. For more severe cases (or if the dryness worsens or just won’t go away), talk with your doctor or dermatologist. They can recommend prescription-strength treatments or determine if an underlying condition is at play.