Dry Skin Around Eyes or Eyelids Causes and Treatments

What does a dry flaky skin around eyes and eyelids mean? Depending on what the causes are, this condition may look scaly or with redness if irritated. There are various skin conditions and infections which can make the skin this area to dry out or appear dried and dehydrated. The eyelids could also be seriously affected.



This problem will often be accompanied by some other symptoms. Outlined below are common signs and symptoms.

  • Formation of small whitish scale-like things or flakes (flaky eyelids)
  • It may also be accompanied by redness.
  • Soreness that cause pain or discomfort during eye movements or opening and closing them
  • Itchiness, etc.
Flaky red skin due to eczema
Due to eczema


You must be wondering what the causes are, read on to unlock reasons you may end up this problem.

1. Eczema on eyelids 

Eczema or dermatitis is a group of skin conditions associated with inflammation of the skin which can appear on any part including the mouth, lip, public areas, etc. (We shall not discuss everything on dermatitis).

Perioral dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a skin rash that mainly affects areas around the mouth especially in young women. This rash normally presents itself as red spots or pink spots that appear lumpy.

Perioral dermatitis around eyes
Perioral dermatitis 

This rash can sometimes affect the skin around the eyes and when this occurs it may appear flaky and dry.

In most cases, the rash is not painful but does trigger itching and can increase sensitivity or ignite a burning sensation. Perioral dermatitis is not contagious.

2. Psoriasis

Generally, psoriasis occurs when “body’s skin cells build up too quickly because of rapid cell production.” [healthline.com].

The most common symptom of psoriasis is a build-up of skin cells that form patches. The patches may cause pain during eyelid movements. Normally, the skin becomes dry and may cause cracks in other areas. In addition, you may also find red scaly around the eyes developing.

Psoriasis around eyes and eyelids
Psoriasis around eyes and eyelids


Risks factors for psoriasis include the following:

  • Family and a personal history of psoriasis
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Suppressed immune system
  • obesity

3. Wrong cosmetics

Not all products are really good for your facial skin. These products comprise lash curlers, liners, mascara together with the tools used to apply the facial makeup and skincare products. Some of the bad ingredients in some the things mentioned here will trigger an irritation. When you begin to scratch or itch this area, it will dry out and possibly start to form flakes.

The common ingredients that will trigger irritations include:

  • Parabens, phenylmercuric acetate, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, and potassium sorbate which are all preservatives added to some facial products
  • Resins
  • Additives such as Bismuth Oxychloride
  • Emollients
  • Contaminants such as nickel

If that is not the case then, your makeup remover, facial cleansers are likely to cause the similar problems.

4. Infections

Blepharitis is another cause of dry flaky skin on the eyelids. Read on to get more information on the symptoms.

5. Sunburn

Sunburn can occur after an exposure or overexposure to sources that emit UV radiations such as the sun rays, wielder’s arc or sunlamps.

6.  Other causes

There are other possible factors and specific conditions some of which we’ll look into while looking at dry flaky, sore and red skin around eyes.

Dry flaky around, above under eyes & eyelids

What do you do to dry skin which is also flaky or looking scaly? Dryness will increase the chances of developing eye wrinkles hence a premature aging. Besides the causes we have already seen, such as perioral dermatitis and poor cosmetics, other common reasons why you will have dry and flaky skin in this area include the following:

1. Cold and windy weather

Did you end up asking yourself what happened to that softer and smoother skin after winter sporting? If you do not take sufficient measures to counter conditions during the winter and fall, you will be a shock and surprise to learn weather has an effect. In essence, cold (or call it extreme chilling cold) robs moisture resulting in dryness and a tightness feeling.

Furthermore, your skin may look flaky after it has tightened but flaking actually takes place if it is not hydrated or moistened sufficiently.

2. Exposure to dry conditions

Heat is another environmental factor with adverse effects on the skin. Sources of heat including the sun and can damage exposed areas like the face arms and back. Heat literally dries it out.

If you use indoor heating systems or are fond of hot showers and baths this will make your skin to dry and be rough

3. Actinic Keratosis (solar Keratoses)

Actinic keratosis is considered disease characterized by premalignant squamous lesion of scaly macule or papule (American Academy of Ophthalmology.) It affects sun-exposed areas and people with a fairer tone. Areas around the nose and eyes may feel rough or have ‘sandpaper’ texture with scaly lesions. Sometimes actinic keratosis appears like a patchy flat, white skin that is flaky or scaly.

Actinic Keratosis
Actinic Keratosis


4. Blepharitis

Blepharitis is characterized by itchy and flaky eyelids whose symptoms (mainly inflammation) affects the eyelids and eye itself. It is caused by a bacteria. Sometimes your eyelids may become scaly and dry i.e. dry flaky skin on eyelids especially if it is “triggered by facial rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis,” [md-health.com] and bacteria.

Other symptoms to suspect of blepharitis include

  • Red eyes and redness in their lids,
  • Swelling especially the lash area,
  • Itchiness around the eyelids
  • Yellow discharge due to a severe infection,
Eyelid blepharitis
Eyelid blepharitis

Apart from blepharitis, other reasons include facial psoriasis, perioral dermatitis or eczema. Remember that blepharitis as a condition could recur if personal hygiene is ignored or it not well treated.

Red and dry

What causes the dry red skin around your eyes? There are several possible causes including psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, and allergies triggered by atopic dermatitis. Others include the following:

1. Fungal infection

The red and dry skin can also be caused by fungal infections like the facial ringworm. Such a fungal infection is characterized by a ring-like scaly red rash. This rash is also itchy. However, on the face, the symptoms of this fungal infection may not be ring-shaped but itchy dry and sometimes can cause crusting if infection symptoms severe.

The infection is common in the under eyes area but may affect the neck and hands.

2. External factors

Environmental factors such as dampness, chilling cold, weather, exposure to sunlight can trigger redness around your eyes.

Dry and sore

Soreness is one thing that is hard to persevere particularly when the skin becomes dry itchy and bumpy. This may be complicated if you have allergies and apply cosmetics such as liners, eyelash curlers, hair dye etc.

These symptoms mostly occur on dry eyelids but could be associated with conditions like blepharitis. For safety and health purposes desist any treatments for allergy. The best step to take is to get diagnosed. If the skin around this areas become extremely sore see your eye doctor.

If dry skin patches

According to ZocDoc Answers, dermatological research shows that the dry patches could be a symptom of eczema (dermatitis). Secondly, it can also be due to a potential allergic reaction due to (increased) sensitivity around the eye skin.

Above eye

What causes upper dry eyelids? Most people complain of this problem especially during the winter when we have cold air. Ideally, it is the extreme cold (low air temperature) that strips of moisture leading to this dryness.

For your information contact dermatitis on the eyelid is more common, do not assume it is just the weather. It is recommended to go for diagnosis if you are not sure of the causes.

In babies, infants or toddlers

This problem can occur in babies as well. From our discussion certain skin conditions and infections are responsible but the most common causes include blepharitis, eczema (irritant eyelid contact dermatitis) and sunburn.

In an attempt to effectively understand and treat eczema of your baby, first you know what the triggers are and the type of eczema. Infants develop eczema because of a “combination of their genes and environmental factors?” [nationaleczema.org]

On eyes and mouth

Perioral dermatitis around eyes and mouth
Perioral dermatitis around eyes and mouth

Dryness can be experienced around the eye and extends to the corners of the mouth. Well, this could be due to allergic reactions symptomatic of red skin which could also itchy. Such an irritation is attributed to toothpaste, fragrances, and shampoo cleaning. Note that the allergens can easily be transferred from hands to your mouth through devices such as cell phones.

Something else that we looked at already considerably is perioral dermatitis. As we stated, the main cause is not well known but individuals who do not often cleanse their face are easily its victims.

Treatment for dry eyelids

This part is going to focus on dry eyelids treatment. What you learn here can be added to what you will learn afterward. Note that some skin conditions that are linked to this problem should be examined and treated by a specialized doctor.

Due to the fact eyelids have the thinnest skin treating the problem can be very crucial. Conditions like blepharitis are easily controlled and treatable.

 Ultraviolet light therapy (UVB phototherapy)

This form of treatment is effective for severe signs of eczema. How does it work as far as the dry skin under eyes treatment is a concern? According to Elisabeth Richard, MD, ultraviolet light alters the function of immune cells in the skin. This helps to reduce itching and inflammation.

Statistically, 70 percent of people who get UVB phototherapy eventually get better i.e., they have minimized eczema symptoms all over the skin. It is also quite a successful treatment for psoriasis too.

Creams and facial cleansers

One of the solutions if finding best creams for dry eyelid skin. Some creams will work best for certain individuals and not others. To be on the safer side, seek dermatological help to get best eye cream brands for this dryness.

Facial cleansers should be part and parcel of cleaning and skincare regime. Yes. That is not negotiable at all. However, the big question is what facial cleansers should you use?

While most cleansers may contribute to dryness, the perfect tip we have for you so far is to visit your doctor who can refer you to a dermatologist or special pharmacy eye clinics.

Treatment and remedies

Before using any moisturizers, creams, and lotions to deal with dryness in this areas it is very advisable and prudent by far to ask your eye doctor the correct creams to usee. Not all creams will treat the underlying causes. So, how do you treat or deal with this problem?

1. Moisturizer creams for dry skin around eyes

Moisturizing your skin should be a routine practice especially if you have a naturally dry skin type.

Anyone intending to extensively apply creams, lotions or moisturizers should be cautionary bearing in mind that some can aggravate dry skin. In fact, that is one of the reasons why Vaseline jelly is recommended.

Before buying any cream for dry eyelids read all manufacturer’s notes and instructions carefully. Ensure that the creams you are buying are free of fragrances that may end up irritating your skin. Examples of common creams include Protopic ointment and Elidel.

2. Topical steroids

They include steroid creams which you should apply in small amounts for mild symptoms such as inflammation and itching. If there is constant or severe itching characterized by a rash, you need a prescription hydrocortisone for a short-term use. See your doctor to give you more instructions on how you are supposed to apply it and for how long.

Before you attempt to your baby using steroid creams understand what problem she or he has and whether the symptoms are mild or severe. For safety reasons, use the mildest forms of steroid on the affected areas only. The use of medium strength steroid ointments in infants with moderate to severe eczema is recommended. Avoid applying any other creams to children with dry eyelids before consulting with a medical practitioner.

However, if you notice a change in the skin in terms of texture or general appearance after applying any eye cream, discontinue it immediately and report the matter to your doctor.

3. Antibacterial Gel

As treatment remedy for dry eyelids, antibacterial gels will prevent staph infections which are likely to worsen symptoms especially dry, flaky skin.

4 Vaseline jelly

Vaseline jelly and products that are 100% pure petroleum jelly are good remedies for dryness because they have super moisturizing quality. Go for those brands free of alcohol, fragrances, dyes and skin irritants. Vaseline jelly can protect your face against many factors that cause problems with the skin such as windburn and chafing.

Beauty experts have often advised pure Vaseline to be incorporated in a healthy skin care regime composed of other moisturizing products (creams and lotions) for very dry eyes.

5. Is coconut oil good?

Coconut oil is a great natural remedy for individuals with vitamin deficiency, itchy dry skin, especially during the winter and fall. It is a good makeup remover and to get rid of eye bags under eyes too.

It is a bit unfortunate for acne-prone individuals to use coconut oil as a moisturizer as it might worsen breakouts.

6. Apply Aloe Vera

Basically, Aloe Vera gel does not treat the cause but is good in soothing particularly when you experience discomfort brought about by this dryness.

7. Potato or cucumber slices

If you see dark spots on eyelids starting to appear due to drying effect, cut some thick slices of either cold (Irish, French) potatoes or cucumber. Lie down, and place a slice on each eye for 10 minutes while it is closed. Remember to rinse your face to avoid the sap getting into the eyes.

8. Rosewater

Rose water is considered to produce magical results for itchy and dryness especially if your eyelids begin to develop flakes i.e. becomes flaky.

9. Honey-yogurt mask

Have been sunburnt and feel your eyelid skin feels rough, dry and stretching? This mask produces a super healing effect especially after patients have undergone a dry eye treatment. Besides, it also enhances hydration while preventing loss of moisture during recovery. If it is applied continually, it eases eye tiredness and will result in a smooth skin.

Use natural honey to prepare the mask. You may also add a small amount of milk to your paste.

10. Colloidal oatmeal paste

Lastly, apply a colloidal paste of oatmeal 3 times a day if your facial skin is irritated or inflamed by external environmental factors such as cold weather.


Extreme (or chronic) dryness of the skin around eyes can lower quality of life and may increase risks of eye problems or infections. Keep in mind poor diets, smoking, dehydration and lack of moisturizing can contribute to the chronic dry skin.

Individuals with nutritional disorders should see a nutritionist if they seem not responding to treatments. If the symptoms persist it’s a high time to see an eye specialist.

Reference and Quoted Sources
  1. http://www.eyehealthweb.com/dry-eyelids/
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/eczema.html
  3. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/eczema-atopic-dermatitis
  4. http://www.md-health.com/Dry-Skin-Around-Eyes.html
  5. http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/gallery/p-best-eye-creams/p153702/page2
  6. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/causes-and-triggers-of-eczema/
  7. http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/eyelid-contact-dermatitis/

5 thoughts on “Dry Skin Around Eyes or Eyelids Causes and Treatments”

  1. Dry skin around the eyes is a common concern for adults. If you have dryness around eyes, you can use these natural remedies. Here are several remedies for treating dry skin around the eyes and we can access them easily. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I used to suffer from flare ups on the eyelids and lips of redness followed by dry flaky skin until I discovered the correlation between the flareups and eating foods with a high glycaemic load e.g. milk chocolate, ice-cream, cake, banana

  3. People of color will present differently. Depending on how deep the skin tone, redness is not easily observed. However, ashyness, and flakiness with drying of the skin surface can be readily seen with darker pigment types. It would be entirely appropriate to have examples of this in your presentation.


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