The skin around the eyes is extremely sensitive; this makes it vulnerable, on the one hand, and particularly challenging to treat, on the other. If you’ve ever struggled with red and dry skin around the eyes, you know how difficult it can be to find products that help you manage the symptoms without making the situation worse.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at this issue: we’ll learn what causes red and dry skin around the eyes, look into actions you can try to prevent and manage these symptoms, and suggest a few products you can use in your skincare routine to promote the recovery of the skin around your eyes.
What causes dry skin around the eyes?
The skin around the eyes can become sensitive and irritated (and therefore red and itchy) for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are occasional and temporary, such as allergies or contact dermatitis, and others may be associated with chronic health conditions, such as atopic eczema or psoriasis. Here are some of these common causes:
One of the most common causes of red, dry skin around the eyes is, of course, the dreaded hay fever. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollens. It usually causes symptoms such as sneezing or a runny nose, but it can also manifest on the skin. The skin may become red and irritated, and feel itchy and tight. If you rub or scratch at it, it may also to peel or flake.
“Contact dermatitis” sounds like a terribly scary thing, but it just means your skin has touched something it didn’t agree with. Beauty products like eye makeup or sunscreen are common suspects, but so are products like detergents, nail polishes, or even hand creams! Anyone can suffer from contact dermatitis, but people with sensitive skin and people with certain chronic conditions (think atopic eczema, asthma, or allergies) may be more prone to this sort of irritation.
Atopic dermatitis (aka Atopic eczema)
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition. It’s more frequent on children, but adults can also experience symptoms. As a chronic disease, atopic dermatitis isn’t always “on”; periods of relative quiet and stability often alternate with flare-ups, during which the skin exhibits itchy, red rashes. Flare-ups can appear in different parts of the body, with the face and hands being among the most common. The eyelid area, unfortunately, can also be affected.
Psoriasis is also a chronic skin condition. It often manifests as patches of dry, scaly skin. Like other chronic conditions, psoriasis tends to come and go, alternating between symptom-free periods and flare-ups. Although psoriasis appears more often on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, it can also show up around the eyes. In this location, psoriasis tends to manifest as red, swollen eyelids that experience itchy or burning sensations.
How to treat dry skin around eyes
If you are experiencing symptoms of dry and irritated skin around the eyes, we recommend first and foremost that you consult your doctor. The skin on the eyelids is very thin and fragile, and you shouldn’t try to fix it on your own if you don’t know exactly what’s going on. This recommendation is especially important if you know you have an underlying condition, such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, or even just allergies.
One thing you can do without your doctor is try and identify your triggers. Even in situations where a chronic condition is present, irritations can be triggered by allergens of other irritating substances. It may be helpful for you to try to identify these triggers, so you may avoid them in the future.
Products to soothe irritated skin around eyes
Assuming you’ve already been to the doctor and you’re only dealing with a mild irritation, you can try to soothe your skin with skincare products specially created for very sensitive, sensitized, or atopic skin.
There are face creams, adapted for skin affected by atopic dermatitis, that have been tested for application even on sensitive and sensitized eyelids. If you feel the need to adapt your skincare routine to use a more minimal and gentle moisturizer, these can be a good option for you:
The La Roche-Posay Lipikar Eczema MED Cream is a cream that provides quick relief from the common symptoms of eczema, such as itching and redness. Based on microbiome science, this product uses a new ingredient, Endobioma™, which has been specially developed to ward off the bacteria that contribute to eczema flare-ups. The cream can be used on the face and body, and is suitable for even the most sensitive areas, such as the eyelids.
The A-Derma Exomega Allergo Emollient Balm is an emollient cream for the face and body that can also be applied to the eyelids. Due to its sterile packaging, this product has a minimal formula with 0% preservatives. The key ingredients are Rhealba® Oat Plant Extract, which offers a soothing effect against itching, redness, and irritation, and niacinamide, which helps strengthen the skin barrier.
To keep the eye area hydrated, you can opt for eye creams specially created for eyelid eczema. Typically, these creams are highly moisturizing and offer soothing benefits that can help reduce the redness, dryness, and itchiness you’ve been experiencing:
We like the SVR Topialyse Palpebral Eyelid Cream, a soothing and anti-itching cream specially created to care for fragile eyelids. It’s indicated for sensitive, dry, and fragile eyelids, even on eczema-prone skin. The formula combines glycyrrhizinic acid (an anti-itching ingredient) with cottonseed oil, babassu butter, and shea butter, three ingredients that restore hydration around the eyes and help restore the skin barrier. The gentle formula can be used every day, even by children ages 3 and up.
Another very popular eyelid cream in the Care to Beauty community is Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Eye 3-in-1 Anti-Irritation Care, a daily care cream that helps soothe and repair the skin affected by eyelid eczema. With a minimal yet versatile formula, this 3-in-1 cream soothes redness and irritation, repairs the skin, and can even be used as a makeup remover. While enoxolone offers a calming action, the exclusive patents Lipigenium™ and Skin Barrier Therapy™ restore the skin barrier and help limit the proliferation of bacteria that can unbalance the skin.
The Noreva Eczeane Palpebral Anti-Itch Lipid 48h Replenishing Cream is a care cream specially designed for atopic dermatitis, specifically for the eyelid area and eye contour. Formulated with two exclusive ingredients, Relipiderm CS and Eczedin PP, this eye cream restores the skin barrier and rebalances the skin’s microbiome, which, as we’ve seen, is often altered in cases of eczema. Its anti-itching effect lasts for 48 hours, so you can apply it a little less often than you would other eye creams.
Last, but not least, the Ducray Dexyane MED Palpebral Cream is a cream for the treatment of atopic dermatitis or contact dermatitis on the eyelids. The hydrating formula helps minimize dryness and restore the skin barrier; at the same time, the combination of glycyrrhetinic and hydroxydecenoic acids helps calm the skin and minimize signs of sensitization. With each application, this cream provides relief from itchiness and reduces burning sensations, thus restoring comfort to sensitive and irritated eyelids.
Cleansers & makeup removers
When you’re struggling with red and dry skin around the eyes, it’s important not to aggravate the situation with your skincare products. The cleansing step can be one of the most aggressive for the skin, if you use inappropriate and harsh products that strip the skin of its moisture. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are cleaning your face with the simplest and gentlests products possible. In these cases, we like to recommend products from skincare ranges developed for atopic dermatitis, which are suitable for very reactive skin:
We bring you two gentle cleansers that can work in phases when your skin feels more sensitive:
The La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser Make-Up Removal is a makeup remover that’s proven effective even on very sensitive skin. With a fluid lotion texture, this makeup remover is enriched with glycerin and La Roche-Posay Thermal Water, two ingredients that provide a moisturizing and soothing effect to the skin. As a makeup remover, the product works by contact, so you don’t need to rub the skin in order to remove makeup. That makes this product perfect to use when the skin around the eyes is more sensitive or sensitized.
The Sensilis Palpebral Relief [ECZ] Make-Up Remover & Treatment is a cleansing and care product specially created for sensitive and eczema-prone eyelids. Due to its combination of moisturizing and soothing ingredients, this product helps increase the skin’s moisture levels, all the while reducing redness. You can use it as an eye makeup remover, applying it to the eyes on a cotton pad, or as a daily cream, applying it directly to the lids without rubbing or removing any excess.
We’ve shown you some products you can use to soothe red and dry skin around the eyes, but keep in mind that they do not replace medical treatment in cases where it’s necessary. As we’ve seen, the most important things you can do when suffering from sensitive and irritated skin around your eyes is visiting a doctor, trying to identify your triggers, and keeping your skincare routine pared down, just in case. If you think you might be suffering from this situation because of hay fever, we’ve got a few tips to help you survive hay fever season. Hang in there!
Beauty Writer & Editor