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It can be incredibly frustrating to look in the mirror and see red, flaky eyelids. Sometimes, it seems like you’re doing everything you can to avoid this, yet it still happens. We’re going to discuss a few of the reasons you may be suffering from irritated eyelids, and we’ll also cover a few simple steps you can implement into your daily routine. These treatments are easy to use and incredibly effective, so you can get back to looking like you again.
One of the main causes of red, flaky eyelids is eyelid inflammation. By definition, blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. It is usually caused by an overgrowth of staph bacteria, although there are other contributors as well. Conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic skin conditions, demodex eyelash mites, and rosacea can put you at a higher risk of this condition.
There are two main forms of blepharitis; anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis. These obviously define where the blepharitis is occurring, but they are different. Anterior blepharitis affects the front portion of the eyelids where the eyelashes attach. When inflammation is present, folliculitis of the eyelash follicle can be the first sign of blepharitis. If you suffer from this form, you may notice red eyelids (especially at the rims of the eyes) and flakiness or crusting of the eyelashes.
Posterior blepharitis is also known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and occurs at the back portion of the eyelids. This is where the meibomian oil glands of the eyelids reside. Any dysfunction of these glands results in this condition, which is most often characterized by a progressive stagnation and hardening of the oils that the glands produce. Left untreated, atrophy of the glands can occur.
Symptoms of eyelid inflammation include:
Eczema is a common skin condition that may occur anywhere on the body, although some people are unfortunate enough to suffer with this on their eyelids. It’s estimated that over 30% of the population suffers from some form of eczema, from mild to severe. While there is thought to be a genetic component to eczema and other atopic skin conditions, there are also other contributors.
Contact dermatitis is a form of eyelid dermatitis that is caused by an offending agent or some form of allergen. When we discuss contact dermatitis, we often think about lotions, cosmetics, and eye drops used in or around the eyes. Preservatives in these products can be very irritating for some people, and they may lead to contact dermatitis.
Symptoms of eczema or eyelid dermatitis around the eyes may include:
We touched on this a bit already, but your makeup can be a big contributor to your red, flaky, irritated eyelids. Cosmetics contains loads of preservatives and other harmful ingredients that just aren’t safe for the eyelids. Yes, even your eyeliner and mascara could be causing issues for you! To avoid this, choose makeup brands with better ingredients and avoid the following in all of your cosmetic products:
Click here to read more about how to choose better makeup.
This goes along the same lines as with makeup, and unfortunately there are more offenders than the main ones listed above. The serum, lotion, perfume, shampoo, and other products you’re using on your body can all contribute to inflamed skin. This is especially true if these products are being used on your eyelids or anywhere near your face. If you’re suffering from red, flaky eyelids, you need to examine all of the products you’re using to determine which may be the culprit. We often recommend getting rid of everything and then slowly adding products back in to test how your skin responds. It seems drastic, but it’s often needed.
No matter what cosmetics you’re using on your eyelids, you want to make sure you’re removing all of your makeup at night. Without doing this, you’re allowing harmful bacteria to overpopulate. In addition to this, the chemicals in your makeup are just going to be sitting there all night. Not a good thing! We recommend using either an eyelid wipe or an oil-based eye makeup remover to thoroughly remove all dirt and makeup before washing your face.
After removing all of your makeup, make sure to thoroughly wash your face. Do this at least once per day, depending on your skin type. We recommend a tea tree face wash because tea tree essential oil can be helpful in those with demodex eyelash mites. If you find that a tea tree based product is drying your skin out even more, step back and use it sparingly (a few times per week or not at all).
This is an important one. After you wash your face, clean your eyelids and eyelashes. You’re taught to brush your teeth twice per day, every single day because doing so prevents cavities. In the same manner, you should be cleansing your eyelids twice per day because this helps prevent blepharitis and future eyelid issues. We recommend using a hypochlorous acid cleanser because this substance is made naturally by the body and the ingredients are safe and simple. Even those with very sensitive skin are usually able to use and benefit from hypochlorous acid. Simply spray the solution onto your closed eyelids twice per day, rub it in with clean fingertips, and let it dry. No rinsing is needed!
The last step in this routine is moisturizing your skin, including the skin of your eyelids. While many products just aren’t fit to be used around the eyes, there are a few great ones out there. We recommend this eye cream and face moisturizer because it’s not only safe for your eyes and eyelids, but it is also simple to use. Use it all over your face and eyelids twice per day instead of using multiple products.
Although you may think it’s strange to have green smoothies on our list of treatments for dry, flaky eyelids, there’s an important reason we include them. The majority of people are eating inflammatory foods for breakfast. Pancakes, bacon, dairy, sugary cereal, and processed foods in general are contributing to inflammation in your body. By replacing your breakfast with a green smoothie, you flood your body with much needed hydration and loads of antioxidants first thing in the morning. This gives your body, and your skin more specifically, the nutrients it needs to repair itself properly.
Click here for green smoothie recipes and inspiration.
Nothing is more important than hydration. Our bodies are 60% water so, when you’re not getting enough, your body can feel the effects of dehydration. Dehydration doesn’t just make you feel thirsty, but it can also contribute to fatigue, brain fog, headaches, dry skin, and chronic health conditions. Since the majority of you aren’t drinking enough filtered water daily, we’re here to recommend you drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For a 150 pound person, that means you’ll drink 75 ounces of water. It may seem like a lot, but you’ll feel great once you get into the habit. Of course, if you suffer from any kidney issues or electrolyte imbalances, make sure to discuss your water intake with your primary care physician.
Why is weather on the list? Those of you who live in dry climates will know that your skin can easily become incredibly dehydrated and flaky. Humidity is often your friend whether you suffer from dry eyes, dry eyelids, or both. To increase humidity in your environment, purchase a home humidifier. There are even portable ones you can sit on your desk at work. Any way that you can increase the humidity around you can be beneficial here. In addition to this, take the advice in #2 above and drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. And I should mention that if you have the desire and means to do so, consider moving to a more humid climate!
This is a big one, although it’s usually overlooked. Chronic stress means you’re going to have a chronic increase in cortisol in your body. Cortisol is generally great for helping your body fight inflammation, but it’s not so great when there’s a dysfunction in cortisol or when it’s in overdrive. This can lead to an increase in inflammation in your body, which may contribute to eye and skin inflammation. To control stress, first identify the parts of your life that are causing the most stress. Once you identify them, you can work to decrease or better manage that stress. I love recommending yoga, meditation, and a gratitude journal as a few simple steps to incorporate into your daily routine.
While there are many potential causes of dry, flaky, inflamed eyelids, there are also many viable solutions. By following the eyelid hygiene routine above and considering the additional lifestyle steps, you’ll be well on your way to more comfortable eyelids soon.
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