Dry Eyelids: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Dry eyelids are constantly marred by itching and skin peeling, especially during winters. However, you can get dry eyelids due to many other reasons as well. From aging to environmental factors, there are several causes behind this condition. Though it is not a serious issue, it can lead to infections and other complications if left untreated.

Is your dry eyelid skin peeling off and losing its texture? Are you looking for ways to manage this issue? Well, you have come to the right place. This article will help you find out why you have a dry eyelid, the symptoms, and how to treat it before it becomes infected. Keep reading to know more!

What Are Dry Eyelids?

The eyelid skin is thinner than the skin on the other parts of your body. Also, there are many blood vessels around the eye. These factors make your eyelids more susceptible to irritation and other skin conditions.

You may get dry eyelids due to many reasons, such as environmental factors or common skin conditions. Read on to learn more about what causes dry eyelids.

Causes Of Dry Eyelids

According to Dr. Norman Shedlo, an experienced optometrist, everything from aging to allergens can cause dry eyelids. He says, “The most common causes of dry eyelids are dry and cold weather, certain skin care products, environmental allergens, contact dermatitis, and excessive eye rubbing.”

  •  Aging: When you age, your skin becomes more prone to dryness. The skin’s elasticity and thickness change, and it loses its smoothness (1). Since the eyelid skin is already thin, dry eyelid chances are higher as you age.
  •  Environmental Factors: The environment you live in can also cause dry eyelids. Dry climates and cold weather make your skin dry. They can reduce the moisture in the outer layers of the skin, leading to dryness. Rooms with low humidity can also dry out your eyelids. Washing your face with hot water also has the same effect.
  •  Contact Dermatitis: This condition is also called contact eczema. It develops when your skin comes in contact with something that causes an allergic reaction. Irritants like hair products, makeup, eyelash curlers, face washes, sunscreens, moisturizers, dust, chlorine from swimming pools, etc., can cause contact dermatitis on your eyelids. Poison ivy is considered the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in the United States (2).
  •  Atopic Dermatitis: People with atopic eczema have sensitive skin due to abnormalities in the epidermis and immune system. This leads to dry and itchy skin. Environmental factors, genetics, and food hypersensitivity may cause atopic eczema (3).
  •  Blepharitis: This is a common eyelid inflammation caused by bacteria or other health conditions like rosacea or allergies. It usually affects both eyes. The common symptoms associated with blepharitis are burning sensation, irritation, tearing, photophobia (extreme sensitivity to light), blurred vision, and red eyes (4). Your eyelids become swollen and scaly too.

Symptoms that accompany dry eyelids vary based on the cause. Some of the common symptoms are discussed in the next section. Keep reading!

Signs And Symptoms Of Dry Eyelids

Some of the common symptoms of this skin condition include:

  •  Itchiness
  •  Flakiness
  •  Loss of eyelashes
  •  Eyelashes growing in the wrong direction
  •  Scaly and rough skin
  •  Painful burning
  •  Peeling
  •  Oozing and crust forming

These symptoms can vary in severity from mild to severe based on the underlying cause. Some people may not experience itching, and some others may experience more intense irritation. Your eyelids may also become swollen if you have dry eyelids.

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek proper treatment and manage the condition before it leads to an infection. Read on to learn how to treat it.

How To Treat Dry Eyelids

Dr. Yuna Rapoport, a board-certified ophthalmologist, says the treatment depends on the cause of dryness and symptoms. “If atopic dermatitis, you can start with over-the-counter hydrocortisone, an over-the-counter lubricating eye cream, and a prescription ointment like Tacrolimus ointment. If the cause is blepharitis, then a warm compress followed by a foam called Ocusoft is a good idea, or possibly a steroid ointment like Tobradex,” she adds.

Eyelid hygiene is one of the most important practices for managing blepharitis. Topical and oral antibiotics are also found to be effective in treating it (5).

Antihistamines and other topical ointments or moisturizers can also be used to reduce itching and swelling. Also, identify your triggers and try to avoid them as much as possible.

Other than these OTC treatments and medications, you can also manage your symptoms with simple home remedies. Check out the next section to learn more.

How To Get Rid Of Dry Eyelids At Home

Dr. Shedlo suggests applying small amounts of petroleum jelly on your eyelid to retain moisture and help the skin heal and remain hydrated. “If the lids are red and irritated, cold compresses will also help bring the inflammation down,” he says. You can make a cold compress by wrapping an ice pack in a towel and applying it to your eyelids for about 10 minutes two or three times per day.

“If the lid skin is split or cracked, a very small amount of zinc oxide as in Desitin cream or ointment will help heal the fissure. Make sure to keep it on the eyelid only and to avoid getting into your eyes,” he adds.

You can also manage your eyelid dryness with minor lifestyle changes like:

  •  Avoid using hot water to wash your face.
  •  Wash or clean your face with fragrance-free and mild soaps or cleansers.
  •  Clean your eyelids with safe cleansers.
  •  Apply moisturizer daily.
  •  Avoid touching your eyes and eyelids unnecessarily.
  •  Stop rubbing your eyes.
  •  Keep your hands clean.
  •  Use a humidifier to add moisture to your environment.
  •  Avoid contact with substances that irritate your eyelids.
  •  Wear protective eyewear to prevent harmful particles from coming in contact with your eyelids and eyes.

If none of these work and you still find it difficult to manage the condition, you may need to consult a doctor. Some conditions require medical attention. Scroll down to learn when it is recommended to see a doctor for dry eyelids.

When To See A Doctor

You should consult a doctor if the remedies and over-the-counter medications show no results. If you suspect your eyelid dryness is due to dermatitis, consult a doctor to identify its cause and plan the treatment accordingly. You can also seek medical attention if your dry eyelids are itching and affecting your sleep.

Dr. Shedlo says, “If left untreated, dry eyelids may become chronic and lead to other complications such as infection and scarring. It\’s important to seek medical help if your symptoms don\’t improve in a few days.” Your doctor may have to conduct a physical examination to diagnose the condition.

Key Takeaways

  •  Cold weather, environmental factors, dry skin conditions, certain skin care products, and excessive eye rubbing are the most common causes of dry eyelids.
  •  You can treat dry eyelids with OTC treatments, medications, home remedies, and a few lifestyle changes.
  •  Avoid contact with substances that may irritate your eyes to prevent an allergic reaction.

The Final Takeaway

Dry eyelids can be caused by aging skin as well as other skin conditions, like contact dermatitis. You experience flaky and rough skin on your eyelids when they are dry. But these symptoms vary depending on the cause of the condition. There are many over-the-counter treatments available to manage this condition. Identifying the triggers will also help prevent it. You can also get rid of dry eyelids with minor lifestyle changes. However, if your symptoms do not subside even after trying out these treatments, consult a doctor immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dry eyelids cause complications?

Dr. Shedlo says, “Dry eyelids can become a more serious problem if the skin becomes infected. This will make the eyelid very red, swollen, and painful. If this occurs, see your doctor as soon as possible to be treated with oral antibiotics.”

Can stress cause dry eyelids?

Dr. Shedlo says, “Stress can trigger a release of corticotropin-releasing hormone, glucocorticoids, and epinephrine, which are indirectly involved in flare-ups of psoriasis, acne, and dermatitis. While the exact mechanism of stress-induced skin complications is not completely understood, we do know that stress has a long-term deleterious effect on skin health and may contribute to dry eyelids in the absence of other causes.”

Can I put olive oil or Vaseline on my eyelids?

According to Dr. Shedlo, “Small amounts of Vaseline directly on the lid and not in the eye should be OK. Olive oil is too thin and may run into the eye itself, creating a burning sensation and blurred vision.”


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Fighting Against Skin Aging
  2. Contact Dermatitis
  3. Atopic Dermatitis
  4. Blepharitis
  5. Blepharitis

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