Suffering from itchy, dry eyelids? If it’s eyelid dermatitis, we’ve got some useful suggestions on how to treat the problem at home.
Dermatitis simply means an irritation of the skin, so eyelid dermatitis isn’t a separate condition; it’s actually generally either caused by something specific you’ve come into contact with, or is an occurrence of a chronic condition like eczema, seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis in that particular area.
But whatever has triggered the flare-up, treating it is usually a case of following these three steps to let the flare die down and support the skin to heal:
- Identifying and avoiding your triggers
- Protecting the area from further damage
- Applying gentle emollients to protect and hydrate dry, damaged skin
Avoiding your triggers
The good news is that eyelid dermatitis usually resolves itself; this can take a few days, weeks or months, but how quickly it gets better is dependent on whether what is irritating the skin is continuing to do so! If you’re still using the shampoo that is making your skin flare-up, applying emollients isn’t going to do much good. You need to identify the problem and try to remove it.
- Shampoo or conditioner
- Soap/shower gel
- Hair dye
- Makeup: foundation/eyeliner/mascara/eyeshadow
- Laundry detergents
- Household cleaners
- Moisturisers or other skincare products
- Ingredients in eye drops
You could also be reacting to less obvious irritants, so check these out too:
- The food you’re eating (dairy seems to be a particular trigger for eyelids)
- Dust mites
- Hot, cold or dry environments, including air con or central heating
- Pet hair
- Essential oils in diffusers
- Chemicals in new carpets or furniture
Protecting from further damage
Avoiding triggers is easier to do if the culprit is a cheap mascara, harder if it’s your cat or the winter, but it’s important to protect your sensitive skin from further damage in the meantime.
If you can’t identify a definite cause for the flare, there are still some things you can do:
- Dodge the soap! Use an oil-based cleanser (like Balmonds Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil for example) to remove the daily grime
- Go makeup-free for a while: it’s best not to put anything at all on your eyelids until they’re healed
- Try not to itch, scratch or touch your eyes: not easy at all, but it’s important not to prolong the flare by damaging the skin further, or risk introducing infection
- Use cold compresses on the area to calm skin down and reduce the itch
- Wear goggles or sunglasses to protect eyes from dust or chemicals
- Keep any water on the area lukewarm rather than hot or cold
- Keep a trigger diary to check whether it’s something you’re eating, drinking, touching or encountering that is the problem.
Except for in the most severe cases, the only treatment recommended for use on the eyelids is keeping the skin hydrated and protected with an appropriate emollient. Steroids and other immune-system medications such as calcineurin inhibitors can bring their own issues, and should only be prescribed by a doctor; topical steroid creams can in fact trigger flare-ups of perioral dermatitis, so are best avoided on the eyelids unless absolutely necessary.
We’d recommend only using unscented, oil-based (rather than water-based) emollients on the eyelids: Skin Salvation is a good choice, as it is unlikely to sting on broken or very sore skin. Do patch test anything you’re going to put on your eyelids beforehand though! Try a tiny amount on your wrist for 24-48 hours first, and watch out for reactions.
It might be that you need to try a combination of these strategies before your eyelids start to clear up, but it’s worth persisting! It can take a few weeks for a flare to resolve after you’ve stopped using an irritating shampoo, so keep at it.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.