Dry skin can hit anywhere, anytime but it is particularly noticeable- and uncomfortable- around the eye area. The delicate skin around the eyes is the thinnest on the body, and cannot retain moisture very well. This makes the sensitive eye area more prone to drying out.
Dry, flaky skin around the eyes and eyelids isn’t pretty and dry skin here can also emphasize fine lines and other signs of aging. Looks aside, dry skin around the eyes can be painful, especially when the skin looks raw and the skin gets scaly. This can lead to itching and flakiness, as well as redness. It can also become a vicious circle, where dry skin becomes itchy but rubbing them to relive the itchiness leads to more flaky skin and irritation. Soreness and swelling can also be a common side effect.
Dry skin around the eyes and dry eyelids can be caused by a multitude of issues, from environmental factors to bad reactions to products. It can also be a sign of an underlying skin conditions such as eczema. Here’s a look at some of the causes, as well as prevention and treatment of dry skin around the eye area.
The dry, cold air during the winter months can be one cause of dry skin around the eyes. Here’s why. During the winter, humidity levels in the air plummet. When the air is dry and cold, water on the skin evaporates quickly. By some estimates, skin can lose around 25% of its ability to retain moisture in the winter. Wind can contribute to dry, chapped skin, especially if you enjoy winter sports. But winter isn’t the only culprit. A sunburn on the eyelid and eye area can lead to dry, itching skin as well.
A hot shower or a long, hot bath can be great ways to unwind but don’t overdo it. Very hot water can contribute to dry skin, as hot water removes natural oils from the skin and strip it of its moisture. Try to shower in tepid water and don’t linger for more than 10 minutes. Other shower culprits can be harsh soaps or residue from shampoo and conditioner running down your face and irritating your eyes. So turn down the temperature and switch to gentle cleansing products.
See A Doctor
Dry skin around the eyes may be caused by dry air but it could also be the sign of something more serious. One of the most common spots for eczema is the thin skin of the eyelid, which causes skin to be itchy, inflamed and cracked. Stress can also lead to eczema flare ups. Other conditions could be psoriasis, which causes dry, scaly skin or Blepharitis, a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the eyelid. Allergies, whether seasonal or food related, could also be a cause but only a doctor can confirm this.
Remove Any Irritants
Figuring out the cause of dry, flaky skin around the eyes and eyelids is half the battle, and often difficult to pinpoint one cause. To rule out any culprits, consider paring back your beauty routine. Try to identify any products which could be drying out the skin and making it worse. Avoid any harsh scrubs around the eye area and take a break from wearing eye makeup or eye masks. Eye makeup removers are a common eye irritant; switch to an alcohol free formula. Also consider what may be new in your skincare routine; have you tried any new products, or switched shampoos?
Blame It on Aging
When it comes to keeping the eye area naturally hydrated, the odds are stacked against you. The eye area doesn’t have many active oil glands, so this area doesn’t stay moist. Aging doesn’t help either. By some estimates, our skin gets 10 percent drier every decade. Oil production slows down and skin cannot trap and retain moisturize as effectively as it once did. To combat this, always wear a nourishing eye cream but try to choose one without fragrances or dyes to prevent further irritation.
Skip the Hard Stuff
If your eyes have red, flaky, itchy skin, be careful about the products you use around the eye area. Skip anything with harsh ingredients, such as alcohol-based products. Also avoid any eye creams with retinol, which can make skin more susceptible to dryness and irritation.
Add Moisture To The Air
Dry air contributes to dry skin. To boost the amount of water in the air, place a humidifier in the rooms where you spend the most amount of time, such as the bedroom and living room. Select a cool air humidifier and try to keep the heat on low to avoid excess drying out. Don’t have a humidifier? Try boiling a pot of water on the stove and throw in some lemons and cinnamon sticks- you’ll be adding moisture and making your home smell nice.
Keep It Clean
Keep your face clean and make sure to wash it, especially at bedtime, to get rid of any dirt, oil or makeup that can be causing flare ups around the eyes. Use cool or warm water and pay attention to the eye area – but don’t scrub it. Press a warm face cloth around the eye area to give it a gentle clean. Try switching to a soap free cleanser that won’t dry skin out.
To soothe the delicate eye area, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Apply a rich formula at night when the skin is damp. Depending on the severity of the dry skin, you may need to apply a gentle eye cream during the day too. To avoid pulling on the skin and irritating the eye area, dab the cream gently- don’t rub. Or use a cotton bud to apply the eye cream. Some people swear by petroleum based products such as Vaseline or an ointment such as Aquaphor which create a thick layer, and lock in moisture. Otherwise look for a product that is designed for sensitive skin and is labeled as hypo-allergenic. Before applying moisturizer, do a patch test to rule out any sensitivity to the product.
Tweak Your Diet
As the saying goes we are what we eat, and the foods we consume can have an effect on our skin. One school of thought suggests that eating high fat foods such as avocados, walnuts, olive oil and oily fish such as mackerel and sardines may help with dry skin. Think of it as moisturizing from the inside. It can also be a good idea to try cutting back on caffeine, alcohol and coffee, which are diuretics and cause dehydration. As always, drink plenty of water.
Try A Natural Remedy
To soothe and moisturize the gentle eye area, some people prefer to use an all-natural product. Aloe vera is one option. The gel is naturally anti-microbial and help heal any wounds. A few drops of a pure oil, such as jojoba, sweet almond oil, avocado oil and virgin coconut oil can also applied to the eye area. Gently massage the oil into the delicate eye area to help lock in moisture and prevent flare-ups.
Prevention is Key
Preventing an issue is often easier than fixing it. To keep the eye area clean and moisturized, remember to replace your cosmetics regularly. Avoid using eye makeup or take a break from it while you wait for your eyes to heal. Do not share any cosmetics, especially eye makeup and mascara. Althogh it’s easier said than done, don’t rub or scratch the eye area.