Dry, Flaky Eyelids And How To Keep Them Moisturized

dry flaky eyelids

Do you ever experience dry flaky eyelids? Your eyelids are skin, after all, so it makes sense that they are prone to occasional skin irritations just like other parts of your skin. In fact, your eyelids are made of delicate, sensitive skin, meaning they may be more susceptible to dryness and flakiness. The thinnest skin on our body is found on the eyelids. There are many causes of dry flaky skin on the eyelids, such as allergies or skin disorders, but fortunately, there are plenty of over-the-counter treatment options to relieve the symptoms you may be experiencing, such as dryness, itchiness, or redness.

The goal of this comprehensive article is to highlight the causes and symptoms of flaky dry eyelids, as well as to examine some of the popular treatment products that are on the market. Your eyelids can return to their normal state…smooth and supple…which will improve your appearance and skin health.

Symptoms of Flaky Dry Eyelids

Dry flaky skin on the eyelids is actually a symptom of a condition called dermatitis. Dermatitis is a generic medical term that simply means ‘skin irritation or inflammation.’ Flaky skin on the eyelids is just one of the symptoms of dermatitis and points to a number of different causes. However, it is important to be able to recognize all of the signs of irritation on the eyelids, including:

  • Itching – Irritation of the skin on the eyelids can cause you to itch. Scratching can then lead to cuts, redness, inflammation and other problems, most notably, infections.
  • dry flaky eyelidsPain – Irritation to the eyelids can hurt! The pain can disrupt your life, make you unable to work, and impact your overall mood. You may also find yourself rubbing your eyelids in an effort to relieve the pain, but the rubbing could lead to even more redness and flakiness.
  • Burning – You may experience a burning sensation if your eyelids are flaky and dry. The burning can range from mildly irritating to very painful. It could even make your eyes water and negatively impact your vision.
  • Dryness of the skin – Our skin, including the skin on our eyelids, must maintain a certain level of moisture to stay elastic, smooth, and healthy. But the skin can become dried out, which leads to flakiness, scaling, irritation, and redness.
  • Flakiness – The skin on the eyelid is smooth, thin, and sensitive. When it becomes irritated, it can flake, meaning tiny pieces of skin dry and peel off. The flaky eyelid skin may feel rough as well.
  • Redness or rash – As with most cases of dermatitis, the skin on the eyelid could become red and may even display bumps or rash. Skin rashes, particularly those on the sensitive eyelids, may itch and burn or be painful. Unfortunately, with rashes, the more you scratch and rub the skin to ease the itching and pain, the more the rash will spread, causing even more irritation and pain.
  • Scaling of the skin – The dryness of the eyelid skin may even change the appearance and feel of the eyelid. The skin could take on a scaly look. Scaling skin is the loss of the outer layer of the skin which results in a cracked appearance, or a look that resembles fish scales.
  • Swelling – Swelling or inflammation is a common symptom that accompanies pain, rash, itching, and burning. The affected area increases in size and, most often, increases in temperature, too.
  • Thickening of the skin – Particularly with chronic dermatitis or dry flaky eyelids, the skin may become thicker and less flexible. This is a result of scar tissue, albeit in small amounts, that form due to damage to the skin.

The symptoms that you experience, including dry flaky eyelids, can impact one or both eyes. The irritation can vary in intensity, from a minor annoyance to severe pain and itching. The condition of dermatitis may occur infrequently and last for only a short time, or it may be chronic. Additionally, the irritation could spread to the surrounding skin or stay isolated on your eyelids.

Causes of Dry, Flaky Skin on the Eyelids

Dermatitis of the eyelids may occur due to a number of causes. The skin on the eyelids may react after coming into contact with an irritant. In addition, the redness and flakiness could be the result of a skin disease or disorder. Let us first look at irritants or allergens that could be the culprit when you experience flaky, dry eyelids. After that, we will discuss the skin diseases that may play a role when your eyelids are dry and irritated.

Related: Eyelid Irritation Causes and Treatment Options


The eyelids feature some of the most sensitive skin on the human body, yet we are often not as gentle with our eyelid skin as we should be. Many times, the allergens or irritants that cause dry, flaky skin on the eyelids were ones that we put there on purpose. Here are some of the common allergens that could cause irritation to the eyelids.

  • Make-Up

Eye shadow, eye liner, and mascara are all popular types of make-up applied to the eyelids and surrounding area. The contents of these make-up products, however, can be questionable and may lead to allergic skin reactions, especially for people who have sensitivity to substances that come in contact with their skin. It is good advice to be cognizant of the substances that you put on your eyelids. Strive to find make-up items with hypoallergenic or all-natural, chemical-free ingredients.

  • Lotion

Lotions are wonderful for hydrating dry skin, but you should know that not all lotions are created equal. Some lotions on the market can contain harsh chemical ingredients. Others have strong perfumes or fragrances that may irritate the skin. Select lotions that are specifically designed for use on the eyelids, as this is a sensitive area. Test out new lotions on other areas of your body, where the skin is less sensitive, before applying it to your eyelids. If all else fails, use a simple oil such as jojoba oil for moisturizing your skin.

  • Sunscreen

Your eyelids are just as likely to get sunburned as other parts of your skin, therefore you should protect them by applying sunscreen when you will be out in the sun. Beware, the type of sunscreen you use may cause your eyelids to become dry and flaky due to an allergic reaction. As you would with make-up and lotion, you should take care to purchase sunscreen that contains ingredients that are mild enough that they won’t cause an allergic response when used on the eyelids. Zinc-only formulas are usually your best bet.

  • Soap and Shampoo

dry flaky eyelidsAlthough you probably don’t apply soap or shampoo directly to your eyelids, your eyelids may be exposed to them and this can create an allergic dermatitis reaction. Residue that you rinse off after shampooing your hair or washing your face can easily come in contact with your eyelids. You can try to avoid getting shampoo or soap on your eyelids or look for products that are milder and less likely to cause a reaction on your sensitive eyelid skin. This may be tough to do, however, especially if you need to use a medicated or dandruff shampoo and an acne or medicated facial soap.

  • Eye Drops

Red and irritated eyeballs can be soothed by using medicated eye drops. While these eye drops may help calm an allergic reaction in the eyeball, they could also cause the skin on the eyelids to react, which could, in turn, cause dryness and flakiness. Look for formulas that are preservative free.

  • Contact Lens Solution

For people who wear contact lenses, rinsing and storing your contacts in a contact lens solution is a daily practice. Contact lens solutions are designed to clean and hydrate lenses while being mild on the eyeball. But exposure to some of these solutions may cause the skin on the eyelid to rebel, resulting in an allergic reaction. Often, a hydrogen peroxide cleanser, such as ClearCare, is the best for this.

  • Goggles

Swimming goggles, safety goggles, and other types of protective eyewear are designed to fit snugly around the eye area. The rubber seal around the goggles can irritate the skin. Goggles may also make it difficult for dry, flaky eyelids to heal completely. When you continue to wear goggles day after day, you are reintroducing the allergen to the unhealed eyelid.

  • Perfume

Perfumes, colognes, and body sprays can inadvertently settle on your eyelids and provoke an allergic reaction on the skin. Of course, what do you do when you spray on body spray or cologne? You close your eyes. This means your eyelids may take the brunt of the spray. As it is with lotions, perfumes and body sprays are available in a wide range of price points and the cheaper products are more likely to contain ingredients that may incite the skin on your eyelids to react.

  • Airborne Allergens

Often, allergens that may cause irritation and allergic responses on our eyelids can come from our environment. Smoke, either from cigarette smoking, fireplaces, bonfires, or work-related fires, is one of the leading environmental allergens, as is dust. Other airborne allergens can include chemicals from our homes or workplace, such as aerosol paints or harsh cleaners. Pet dander can also be a factor, particularly if you have a cat that likes to sleep on your pillow when you are not home.

  • Skin Disorders

Eyelid dermatitis can also be the end result of a skin disorder or disease. The condition may manifest itself on any part of your skin, including your eyelids. When the skin disorder impacts your eyelids, it can be particularly problematic because the skin is much more sensitive, and you may not be able to use a strong medicated cream so close to your eyes. Here are a few of the most common skin conditions or diseases that can cause dry, flaky eyelids.

Eczema, or eczematous dermatitis, is a skin condition categorized by inflamed, dry, rough patches on the skin that may also be accompanied by blisters, itching, and a rash. There is no known cause of eczema. People suffering from eczema experience flare-ups from time to time that can strike anywhere in the body and range in severity. Eczema is not contagious.

dry flaky eyelidsPsoriasis is a common and chronic skin condition. It is a disorder in which the life cycle of skin cells is accelerated, creating a rapid build-up of skin in random patches. These patches become scaly, flaky, dry, and itchy. Psoriasis is incurable, but people can often control the symptoms and lessen to chances of flare-ups.

Seborrheic Dermatitis affects mainly the head and scalp, seborrheic dermatitis is a skin disorder that creates blotchy, red, scaly patches of skin that flake. Physicians theorize that seborrheic dermatitis may be caused by a yeast or fungus, called malassezia that forms on oily secretions on the skin. In some cases, the seborrheic dermatitis goes away on its own, without medical intervention. Other times, it requires medication.

Rosacea causes redness, small bumps, and visible blood vessels on a person’s face and this can extend to the eyelids. Rosacea appears to be a hereditary condition. Although, flare-ups may be triggered by environmental factors such as exposure to smoke, heat, or various triggering foods. A rosacea flare-up may last for several weeks or even months.

Bacterial Infection can affect the skin on the eyelids, leading to dry, flaky eyelids and other issues. Bacteria can settle on the surface of skin, enter through pores, or penetrate through cuts in the skin. The ensuing infection can spread through the surrounding area. Bacterial infections can be treated with an antibiotic, either in pill or ointment form.

Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelids, usually caused by an abundance of bacteria that accumulate at the edges of the eyelids. Blepharitis causes redness, pain, swelling, and crusty discharge. The inflammation and infection is easily treated and the itchiness and dryness can be relieved with medication.

Related: What is Anterior Blepharitis? Causes & Treatment

Eyelash Mites or Demodex, as much as we don’t want to think about it, our bodies play host to a number of unseen organisms, including eyelash mites and even lice. Among these can be demodex, a family of tiny mites that live on the skin adjacent to hair follicles. The mites prefer the eyelash area because of the high moisture. Your skin reacts to the mites by triggering an allergy-like reaction, with redness, itching, and swelling.  Make sure to use a tea tree soap to help eliminate eyelash mites. 


Generic Treatment Options for Dry Flaky Eyelids

Treating the specific skin condition can alleviate many of the annoying symptoms of dry eyelids, including dryness, itching, and flakiness. But there are less specific steps you can take to help ease the symptoms and prevent future flare-ups. Of course, common sense practices, such as keeping the skin clean, washing your hands, and removing contact with known allergens, should be taken. Additionally, dry, flaky eyelid treatment can include the following:

Moisturizing – Creams, lotions, oils, and ointments, available over-the-counter and without a prescription, may be effective at relieving the dryness of the eyelid skin.

Using Antihistamines – Over-the-counter antihistamines, as well as stronger, prescription ones, are effective at calming the body’s natural response to an allergen, including itching and swelling.

Using Corticosteroids – A steroid cream or ointment can treat dryness and flakiness. Simply apply the product directly to your eyelids. Prolonged use, however, is not recommended. Make sure to speak with your doctor about this.

Related: Blepharitis Home Treatment

Using Calcineurin Inhibitors – As a topical cream or an oral pill, calcineurin inhibitors are used to treat inflammatory disorders, which include psoriasis.

5 Specific Treatment Options for Dry, Flaky Eyelids

If you often find yourself saying, “My eyelids are dry and flaky”, you may be seeking a solution that will ease your discomfort and reduce the frequency of your flare-ups. The following is a guideline for some of the top over-the-counter products available for purchase that will help eliminate dry, flaky skin on the eyelids.

1. Heyedrate Lid & Lash Cleanser

dry flaky eyelidsBrand: Eye Love

Used to Treat: Blepharitis, Rosacea, Dry Eyes, Eye Irritation, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, and any other skin irritations

Product Type: Eyelid Cleansing Spray

Product Size: 1.0 ounce

Active Ingredients: Hypoallergenic diluted Hypochlorous Acid formula (HOC1)

Features: Organic, All-Natural, Vegan, Alcohol-Free, Fragrance-Free, Paraben-Free, Sulfate-Free, Preservative-Free.

Eye Love’s Heyedrate Lid & Lash Cleanser provides an ideal way to thoroughly clean around your eyes to fight bacteria growth on the skin of the eyelids. The company is committed to eye care for everyone, especially for people who cannot afford proper eye care or do not have access to eye care because of their geographic location. A portion of the profits from the sale of their products goes to provide professional eye care to people in need. Eye Love, in fact, works to establish eye clinics globally in impoverished areas.

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2. Brickell Men’s Restoring Eye Cream for Men

dry flaky eyelidsBrand: Brickell Men’s Products

Used to Treat: Puffiness, Wrinkles, Dark Circles, Under Eye Bags

Product Type: Balm

Product Size: 0.5 ounces

Active Ingredients: Aloe, Protein Peptines, Green Tea, MSM, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C

Features: Natural and Organic, Anti-Aging, Reduces Puffiness

The Brickell company produces a line of men’s skincare and grooming products that include natural and certified organic ingredients. You’ve probably seen reviews of their products in Men’s Journal, GQ, and other popular magazines for men. Although the company is only a few years old, it is one of the fastest growing men’s skincare companies in the world. Brickell’s eye restoring cream adds moisture to eyelids and surrounding areas, reducing dark circles, puffiness, redness, and wrinkles. The cream absorbs quickly so there is no greasy feel after using the product.

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3. OCuSOFT Lid Scrub

dry flaky eyelidsBrand: OCuSOFT

Used to Treat: Blepharitis, Removed Debris and Allergens, Removes Oil, Moisturizes

Product Type: Pre-moistened pads

Product Size: 30 count, 4 ounces

Active Ingredients: Water, PEG-80, Sorbitan Laurate, and more
Features: Non-Irritating Formula, Alcohol-Free, Dye-Free, Fragrance-Free, Clinically Tested

With OCuSoft’s lid scrub, you can effectively remove oils, make-up residue, dead skin, and other debris from your eyelids. These debris could otherwise cause an allergic reaction or a flare-up of blepharitis or eczema. Founded in 1986, OCuSoft supplies many of its products to eye care professionals. Their eyelid scrub is one of the top doctor-recommended eyelid cleaners on the market.

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4. Bee Naturals Best Eye Balm Peeper Keeper

dry flaky eyelidsBrand: Bee Naturals

Used to Treat: Moisturizes, Reduces Wrinkles and Fine Lines, Anti-Aging, Hydrated Eyelids

Product Type: Balm

Product Size: 1.6 ounces

Active Ingredients: Vitamin E, Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sunflower Oil, Avocado Oil, and more. Features: Certified All-Natural Ingredients, Free of Animal Testing.

Peeper Keepers is specially formulated for the sensitive skin of your eyelids so it cleans and moisturizes as gently as possible. The dry flaky skin on eyelids becomes noticeably smoother with use. Plus, dark circles and fine lines are reduced. Bee Naturals has sold its Peeper Keepers for more than ten years. In that time, the product has earned a reputation for alleviating the problem of flaky skin on the eyelids, while relieving dryness and scaliness. In fact, Peeper Keepers remains one of Bee Natural’s top selling products.

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5. Essential 9 Eye Serum

dry flaky eyelidsBrand: EYE ECO

Used to Treat: Dry Eyes, Eyelid Hydration, Anti-Aging, Reduces Puffiness, Eliminates Dark Circles

Product Type: Serum

Product Size: 1 ounce

Active Ingredients: Aloe, Chamomile, Green Tea, Eyeseryl, Regu-Age and Gatuline A
Features: Formulated for use around eyes, Unscented, Absorbs Quickly, Made in the USA

Formulated for the thinnest skin on the body, your eyelids, EYE ECO’s Essential 9 Eye Serum protects and heals dry flaky eyelids and hydrates the skin. Healthy, flake-free eyelids improve the overall health of the eye area by reducing dryness, puffiness, redness, and itching. EYE ECO is committed to providing all-natural eye care products that are effective, scientifically-proven, and doctor-recommended. In fact, the eco-minded company uses a portion of its profits to purchase and distribute wildflower seeds to provide habitats for bees.

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