Dry eyelids can result from a common skin condition, such as atopic dermatitis, or environmental factors, such as dry air during the winter.

Dry skin on the eyelids can be uncomfortable, but there are several effective ways of treating the condition at home. More severe cases of dry eyelids may require treatment from a doctor.

Symptoms that may accompany dry eyelids include itchiness, redness, and irritation.

In this article, we will discuss the symptoms and causes of dry eyelids. We will also look at potential home remedies and medical treatments.

A person rubbing their eye due to having dry eyelids.Share on Pinterest
Image credit: Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Dry skin may cause discomfort, particularly on the eyelids, where the skin is thinner than other body areas.

Some common symptoms of dry skin include:

  • flaking surface
  • rough texture and cracks
  • itching
  • painful burning or stinging
  • appearing wrinkly and loose
  • peeling
  • rawness or irritation

Symptoms of dry skin may vary from mild to severe.

Some people may have dry skin on the eyelids without noticing or may only experience mild itching. Others may experience more intense irritation, which worsens during blinking. Sometimes, the eyelids may become swollen.

Dry skin occurs when the top layer of the skin fails to retain enough moisture to function properly. There are many possible reasons for this happening, such as:

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is a common skin condition that typically starts during childhood. Atopic dermatitis may result from an infection or inflammation and can occur more frequently in people with asthma, hay fever and other allergies, including food allergies.

The most common symptom of atopic dermatitis is itching. It can also cause:

  • dry, scaly skin
  • pain or tenderness
  • rashes that ooze fluids or bleed after scratching
  • lichenification, which is the thickening and hardening of the skin

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that occurs following contact with an irritant. Irritants causing contact dermatitis on the eyelids may include:

  • makeup
  • sunscreen
  • face washes
  • hair products
  • chlorine from swimming pools
  • dust

Contact with an irritant may cause a person’s skin to become dry, inflamed, and itchy. It can also lead to burns or blisters on the skin.

Environment

Certain environments may lead to dry, itchy skin that becomes rough and scaly over time.

For example, dry air can reduce moisture in the skin’s top layers, causing it to become dry. Dry air is more common during the winter when the temperature drops.

Exposure to water can also dry out the skin. Long baths or showers may reduce oils in the skin that typically help it retain moisture.

Aging

Aging decreases oil in the top layers of skin and reduces sweat glands in the skin. This may prevent a person’s skin from retaining moisture.

Some factors may accelerate the aging process, such as smoking or too much sun exposure.

Aging causes the skin to wrinkle and start to crack. It may also lead to areas of dry, flaky skin that itch.

The best way to treat dry skin on the eyelids depends on its cause.

Moderate to severe atopic dermatitis is treatable with moisturizers or corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are a short-term treatment option for reducing inflammation in the skin.

A person can treat contact dermatitis by avoiding triggers such as cosmetics, sunscreen, or chlorine. A person may need to use trial and error to identify their triggers, which will vary depending on the person.

A doctor may also prescribe other medications to treat related symptoms. For example, they may suggest antihistamines to help with sleeping or antibiotics for associated infections.

A person can often treat their dry eyelids at home with over-the-counter moisturizers.

Some active ingredients a person can look for in moisturizers include:

  • olive or jojoba oil
  • shea butter
  • lactic acid
  • urea
  • glycerin
  • lanolin
  • petrolatum
  • dimethicone

To help with dry skin, the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s recommendations include:

  • moisturizing several times a day, including right after bathing
  • using a humidifier
  • avoiding bathing or showering for longer than 5 minutes
  • using warm (not hot) water to bathe
  • avoiding prolonged sun exposure and tanning beds
  • washing with gentle cleansers and skin products

Dry skin is usually treatable at home with over-the-counter moisturizers and general skin care.

If home remedies do not ease symptoms or the symptoms worsen, a person should see a doctor. Dermatologists are skin specialists who can provide treatment options.

Dry eyelids have several possible causes, including dermatitis or natural aging. Dry eyelids may occur when the top layer of the skin fails to retain enough moisture.

People can usually treat their dry eyelids at home by using products such as over-the-counter moisturizers.

If symptoms persist, a person should see a doctor. A doctor can prescribe medications to reduce symptoms, such as corticosteroid creams.