Dry skin under the eyes: causes, prevention and treatment

Whether it’s due to aging, a skin condition like eczema, or the weather, having dry skin under your eyes can not only be irritating, but also painful.

Learn more about dry skin under the eyes and its causes, as well as prevention and treatment methods.

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Dry skin under the eyes

Anyone can have dry skin anywhere on their body. The skin needs water and oils that the body produces naturally to stay healthy and elastic. If this moisture is lacking for any reason, the skin can dry out. This usually results in itching or flaking, tight or tingling sensations, or even flaking. It can be uncomfortable and, for some people, even make them self-conscious if the skin takes on a scaly or rough appearance, or if they scratch enough to cause bleeding.

The skin around the eyes is particularly thin and sensitive, so when dry skin occurs here it can be painful or embarrassing. If there is a medical condition behind the dry skin, it can even affect the eyes and vision.


There are a variety of causes of dry skin under the eyes. Knowing what causes dryness is important because conditions are treated differently.


Blepharitis is a common condition that can cause red, dry, swollen and itchy eyelids, dry eyes and crusty scales on the eyelashes. It is not contagious and generally does not damage the eyes. If the oil ducts become clogged, it can cause dry skin under and around the eyes. This can be treated by cleaning your eyelids regularly.

Often it doesn’t go away completely, but you can manage the symptoms. Your dermatologist, eye doctor, or other health care providers can discuss with you what may be causing your blepharitis.


Conjunctivitisalso called pink eye, occurs when the white of the eye becomes pinkish, usually due to viruses, bacteria, or allergens. It can also be very itchy and cause swelling of the eyelids, more tearing, crusting of the eyelids or eyelashes, and eye discharge.

Cold compresses and artificial tears can help, but your healthcare provider can assess you to see if the pink eye is bacterial or viral. If it is caused by bacteria, they may need to prescribe an antibiotic.


Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can occur anywhere, including under and around the eyes. It usually occurs more often in those who have eczema in other places as well. This can be particularly bothersome because the skin around the eyes is so thin and sensitive, making it more susceptible to developing things like irritant and allergic contact dermatitis.

Avoiding any known irritants or allergens can minimize the risk of dermatitis. Topical treatments like creams or steroids can be used to treat this eczema. More severe forms may require oral steroids or other immunological drugs.

Ocular rosacea

Rosacea can occur in and around the eyes and include things like swollen or red eyelids, bloodshot eyes, conjunctivitis, crusty eyelids, and itching. If left untreated, it can affect the eyes.

Treatment may include warm compresses, eye wash, and eye drops/medication. Your health care provider may also prescribe an antibiotic.

Other reasons

There are other more general causes of dry skin, especially around the eyes. These causes include:

  • Being middle-aged or older: less sebum, which keeps the skin soft, is produced
  • People with very dark or very fair skin are more likely to have dry skin than those with medium skin tone
  • Medications like statins or diuretics
  • Cold outside temperatures
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
  • On dialysis
  • HIV
  • Diabetes, thyroid or kidney disease

Symptoms of dry skin around the eyes

The skin around the eyes is thinner than other skin on your body and can therefore dry out more easily. Common symptoms of dry skin include:

  • More visible fine lines
  • Itchy skin
  • Flakes or rough texture
  • Cracks in the skin
  • Skin may sting or burn
  • May look wrinkled

Management and prevention

Depending on the cause of the dry skin around your eyes, the specific treatment may depend on the underlying condition. Your dermatologist and/or ophthalmologist may have specific medications or topical treatments they need, and certain treatment plans you need to follow. Always follow their directions first when you are in their care.

Taking care of the skin around your eyes can help prevent and manage any dry skin that may occur. Things you can do include:

  • Look at the products you use: do they irritate your skin? Are they filled with chemicals or irritants? Do you use harsh products or too many products, too often?
  • Follow a good skincare routine: wash your face twice a day with a mild, soap-free cleanser and use an oil-free moisturizer.
  • Look for hypoallergenic makeup products to minimize allergic reactions
  • Use sunscreen
  • Take off your makeup before going to bed
  • Be aware of the rubbing under your eyes
  • Stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet as this affects skin health

Too much sun exposure or smoking can also dry out the skin. Minimizing your tan, using sunscreen regularly, and quitting smoking can all help your skin stay healthy.

home remedies

There are things you can do at home to reduce dry skin and help treat it. Things you can do at home include:

  • Use warm water instead of hot water; it helps not to dry out your skin
  • Use a fragrance-free cleanser
  • Blot with a towel instead of scraping
  • Use a moisturizer right after drying the skin, to lock in existing moisture in the skin
  • Ointments or creams are better for moisture than lotions
  • Choose products labeled “mild” and fragrance-free when possible
  • A humidifier can help put moisture in the air, especially in your bedroom while you sleep.

If you are not allergic, these ingredients in creams or ointments may be helpful:

If you have a specific medical condition like the ones listed above that causes dry skin, talk to your healthcare provider before using home remedies. They might have specific suggestions for you.

When to Seek Professional Treatment

If nothing helps with the dryness around your eyes, see your health care provider or a dermatologist. If you notice anything unusual with your eyes or vision or start having problems with your eyes, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Treatment may be needed to prevent any eye or vision problems.


Dry skin can be uncomfortable, and if it gets very bad, even painful. Because the skin around the eyes is so thin, dry skin can be particularly irritating here and even affect the eyes. Even if you haven’t been clinically diagnosed with a skin disorder, there are things you can do to minimize dry skin and help prevent and/or treat it at home, such as using gentler products, hydration and lifestyle changes like avoiding too much sun. and smoke. If nothing helps, see your healthcare provider. They can help you manage it so it doesn’t get worse and affect your eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to quickly get rid of dry skin around the eyes?

    While there’s no quick and dirty way to get rid of dry skin, you can start by reassessing the products you use and choosing ones that are gentle on your skin and fragrance-free. This minimizes allergens or irritants. A good moisturizer will also help – choose an ointment or cream rather than a lotion. After taking a shower or washing your face, apply moisturizer as soon as possible to trap water in your skin.

  • How long does dry skin under the eyes last?

    Once you start treating it, you will see improvements and healing in about two weeks. If you have a medical condition that causes dry skin, this may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the treatment plan developed by your provider.

  • Will dry skin cause bags under the eyes?

    Dry skin usually does not cause bags under the eyes. Common causes are aging, as skin loses elasticity and fat changes, genetics, lifestyle habits like poor sleep and smoking, and different conditions like allergies or thyroid conditions can cause puffiness. under the eyes.

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