Eyebrow dandruff is a skin condition that can be treated and kept at bay by some home moisturizing remedies. But seeking advice from a dermatologist may also be necessary in some cases.
Dandruff — it’s a real head-scratcher. Although dandruff usually affects the scalp, this flaky, itchy skin condition can also show up on your eyebrows. Great!
Often, the root cause of dandruff, no matter its location, is a kind of fungus. Other culprits include dry or irritated skin as well as inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Although eyebrow dandruff may not be among the most attractive features, thankfully, it’s not usually serious, and it’s easy to treat.
Continue reading as we give the lowdown on eyebrow dandruff and how you can give it the brush off.
In many cases of eyebrow dandruff, a little something called seborrheic dermatitis is to blame. This chronic form of eczema often appears where there are tons of oil-producing sebaceous glands (around the shoulders, scalp, armpits, groin, and in and around the eyebrows). On babies, it’s called cradle cap.
Seborrheic dermatitis symptoms include:
- skin flakes (aka dandruff)
- patches of greasy skin with white or yellow crusty scales
- hypopigmentation or lightening of the skin on darker skin tones
- reddening on lighter skin tones
- curved lesions along the hairline on darker skin tones
The reason you may develop seborrheic dermatitis is a teeny organism called Malassezia. This yeast lives on your skin’s surface and normally doesn’t cause any problems, but sometimes it overgrows and triggers your immune system. It’s this inflammatory response that causes skin symptoms like eyebrow dandruff.
There’s an increased chance of developing seborrheic dermatitis if you have certain medical conditions including:
- alcohol use disorder
- eating disorders
Plus, some triggers can set seborrheic dermatitis into action. For example, some people find that stress, hormonal changes, and illnesses can cause a flare-up of symptoms. Other common culprits include harsh detergents, chemicals, and soap on your skin. Likewise, these products can cause contact dermatitis, another trigger of eyebrow dandruff.
Contact dermatitis is your skin’s way of saying “hell no” to an irritant or allergen. Your skin may object to an ingredient in a face wash, shampoo, or makeup by creating an itchy, angry rash that scales and flakes.
Other potential causes of eyebrow dandruff
- Dry skin. Good old-fashioned dry skin can flake just like dandruff, so don’t forget to moisturize.
- Eczema. This chronic skin condition can cause sore, irritated patches of angry skin.
- Psoriasis. If your immune system goes bananas, your skin can create new cells faster than the old ones shed, resulting in itchy, raised scales or patches on your face and other areas of your body.
The best treatment for eyebrow dandruff depends on the underlying cause.
If you suddenly develop flaky eyebrows after using a new cosmetic or skin care product, then contact dermatitis is a likely cause.
In this case, your skin will be happier when you stop using the product. While waiting for it to recover, keep your skin moisturized to reduce the flaking. If it’s particularly itchy or uncomfortable, using an antihistamine cream can help alleviate the irritation.
If the cause of your eyebrow flakes is seborrheic dermatitis, then treatment aims to remove scales, reduce itch, and soothe irritation.
Medicated shampoos, creams, and lotions are the usual go-to’s for seborrheic dermatitis.
Initially, a health professional may recommend washing the affected areas with a gentle cleanser containing zinc and then completing your skin care routine with a moisturizer. Other options are over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, but you’ll need to avoid getting them in your eyes!
Pros may also advise you on lifestyle changes, like stress management and getting enough sleep, as these factors can cause havoc on your skin.
If you’re still flakier than a Tinder date, then a doc may recommend a combination of the following:
- Topical corticosteroids. These anti-inflammatory creams and ointments can reduce itching and other symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis flare-ups. They block the chemical reactions that trigger the inflammatory response and calm down the immune system.
- Topical keratolytics. Medications like salicylic acid or lactic acid help loosen and exfoliate skin cells and reduce scaling. They also help the skin keep hold of moisture, which eases dryness.
- Topical antifungals. These drugs, including ketoconazole and ciclopirox, kill the yeast that causes seborrheic dermatitis. They come as a cream, gel, lotion, or shampoo and help reduce itching, redness, and scaling.
- Oral antifungals. Itraconazole, fluconazole, and terbinafine pills are options for severe seborrheic dermatitis. But this likely won’t apply for eyebrow dandruff on its lonesome.
- Topical antipruritics. If the itchiness is driving you round the bend, these treatments can help. They come as a cream, gel, or lotion and work by numbing the nerve receptors in your skin that send itch signals to your brain.
Alternative skin treatment options
Besides these traditional approaches, some dermatologists are now turning to high-tech solutions, like phototherapy. No, not for your Insta! It involves using certain types of light to benefit skin conditions like atopic eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.
Some research shows that UV light can help reduce skin irritation, but further clinical studies are needed to see how useful these approaches truly are.
If you’d prefer to steer clear of meds, there are some home remedies that might help ease your eyebrow dandruff.
Tea tree oil
This essential oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can help treat seborrheic dermatitis and other skin conditions that can cause eyebrow dandruff. In fact, an early study from 2002 found that using 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo helps reduce dandruff.
If you plan on using this essential oil, it’s important to dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil, as it can cause skin irritation. Also, be super careful when using it anywhere near the eyes. You can add a few drops to a cotton swab and gently dab it on your eyebrows, taking care to wipe away any drips.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
This natural moisturizer can help to ease dryness and scaling. Studies show that coconut oil can ease inflammation and soothe irritated skin. Apply a small amount to the affected areas using a cotton swab and gently massage. You can let it dry on your skin or rinse it away.
That’s right! Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that help reduce itchiness and irritation.
Dermatologists may recommend adding a cup of oats to your bathtub and having a long soak to ease your skin. While you’re in the tub, you can drizzle some on your brows to soothe the irritation. Alternatively, you can use an oatmeal facemask. It’s super simple. Just grind up some oats, add enough water to make a paste, and then apply to your face.
The sticky goo from inside aloe vera leaves is renowned for its soothing, healing properties. If you’ve ever had a sunburn, someone likely suggested applying some to your skin. It’s super easy to use. Simply apply a small amount of aloe vera gel or cream to your eyebrow and leave it to work its magic.
Apple cider vinegar
The mildly acidic properties of this natural remedy can help to reduce scaling by restoring your skin’s natural pH level. They can also kill bacteria on the skin, reducing the chances of infection. First, apply diluted ACV to the affected areas using a cotton swab. Then, you can leave it or rinse it away.
If home remedies don’t work, or if your symptoms are severe, it’s time to see a dermatologist. They can correctly diagnose the condition and prescribe stronger medicated treatments to help get your eyebrow dandruff under control.
Because eyebrow dandruff has so many potential causes, it may not be possible to prevent it in all cases. That said, folks often have specific triggers that they know can cause skin flare-ups.
If this applies to you, it’s a good idea to keep a symptom diary to help you figure out what to avoid. For example, your skin may become inflamed when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, after using a certain skin care product, or eating something.
For some peeps, their hormone cycles do a number on their skin. Once you understand your triggers, you can take steps to avoid or at least reduce exposure.
Here are five general tips that can help keep your skin happy:
- Protect your skin from the elements. Winter winds, freezing temperatures, glaring sun, and generally harsh weather can irritate your skin and cause uncomfortable symptoms. Therefore, protect your skin with a high-SPF sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and face coverings whenever possible. And don’t forget to protect your lips as the skin is thinner and more delicate than the rest of your face.
- Use a facial moisturizer. Keep your skin hydrated with a suitable moisturizer. Apply morning and evening, especially after cleansing your face.
- Choose gentle products. Avoid cleansers, scrubs, and exfoliants with harsh ingredients that can irritate the skin.
- Avoid multiple styling products. If you also have dandruff on your scalp, going overboard on hair gel, spray, wax, etc., can worsen the sitch because these can be irritating. Instead, minimize or swap products for natural options and cleanse your hair thoroughly to remove product buildup.
- Follow the instruction of a health pro. Remember to use your meds as the dermatologist directed to see the best results from your treatment — even if you may not think it’s necessary.
If treatments aren’t working, or your skin health worsens or shows signs of infection, it’s important to follow up with a dermatologist for advice. They can prescribe different medications or other treatments to help banish your flaky brows. It’s best to get symptoms under control as soon as possible to avoid potential scarring or hair loss if the condition is severe.
Eyebrow dandruff has a boatload of causes, including seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, eczema, and dry skin. If you have a good indication of what causes reactions on your skin, do your best to avoid them.
Some cases of eyebrow dandruff may respond to a DIY treatment approach, like keeping the skin moisturized, using antidandruff shampoo, or tea tree oil. But if you’re having no luck with these, it’s time to see a dermatologist.
A skin specialist can diagnose the condition correctly and create a personalized treatment plan for you involving methods to reduce inflammation, itching, and flaking.
Although eyebrow dandruff can be annoying, with the right treatment, you’ll be head and shoulders above the rest.