Table of Contents
- Identifying Dry Skin
- What are the major causes of dry skin?
- What about treatments?
Dry skin is a problem that affects millions of people.
Skin dryness causes itching, flaking, cracked lines and rough patches.
Many of us love swimming, and while it is a good source of exercise, it can also be a major contributor to dry skin patches under the eyes.
The skin underneath the eyes is thinner than the skin on the other parts of the body, and for this reason, fine lines and dark circles accumulate. This skin is also very sensitive and delicate.
The dryness can occur for a number of reasons, and solutions and treatments can be simple or complicated, depending on your condition.
Problems with dry skin can be a result of frequent bathing, especially if you use harsh soaps. Aging is a common cause of skin dryness, but also certain medical conditions.
Other signs that may follow dry skin are redness, irritable eyes, and scaly dry spots.
Apart from being irritating and uncomfortable, it can be embarrassing because the dry skin under eyes can make you look older and you may feel less confident or attractive.
But what is causing dry skin under eyes?
Let’s quickly go through the explanation of what dry skin is.
Identifying Dry Skin
Lack of moisture is the major reason of skin dryness.
Our skin has fine layers of lipids that keep the moisture in and keep the skin soft. Without these layers of oil, the skin is exposed and can be damaged easily. Furthermore, because the skin around the eyes is thinner and more sensitive, it is more vulnerable.
Sometimes the symptoms of dry skin under the eyes are not visible. Although the itching and irritable feelings are present, the other signs are not far behind. Dry skin creates wrinkles and fine lines. It also produces the rough and raw looking skin that feels textured when it is touched. Scaly flakes may be present along with a little swelling under the eyes.
Having a natural dry skin is not helpful in these instances, which is why dry skin should be treated properly and promptly.
Causes of dry flaky skin under the eyes
Our skin acts as a first protective barrier but it can be damaged if not treated carefully. While there are some factors we can impact on to protect our skin, some things we cannot easily change. Dry skin can be a result of different living conditions and circumstances:
- If you live in a dry climate you need to protect your skin
- If your family has a history of skin conditions, such as eczema or allergic dermatitis, you need to consult doctors and dermatologists to see what you can do to prevent skin related problems
What are the major causes of dry skin?
Climate and weather
In meteorology, there are two ways to explain dry air. It’s air that lacks humidity and air that has no water vapor. The air is thought to be dry when the relative humidity drops below around 40 percent.
Our skin is half water, even more than half, thus, when the air lacks humidity, the skin will logically dry out.
Even if you don’t live in a dry climate, artificial heating and cooling can also dry out the air.
Synthetic fibers from air-conditioning can, in fact, cause skin irritation, showed one study of hospital workers.
The first signs that your skin is starting to dry out are itching, followed by flaking and tightness of the skin around joints. The next recognizable signs are chapped lips and skin cracking.
Major problems occur when your skin is dry most of the time, which can lead to bacterial infection.
Makeup, soaps, moisturizers for face, hair shampoos and detergents, and fabric softeners – these are all enemies of the skin.
Skin reacts negatively to skin products for several reasons.
Cosmetic products contain alcohol (SD or denatured) and synthetic fragrance (sometimes even natural fragrance) that damage the skin. Plant extracts in cosmetics can also rip the skin off natural oils. Reactions to synthetic ingredients can happen immediately or after a few days.
Sometimes skin has an allergic reaction to several ingredients or a specific ingredient used in cosmetic products; this, however, has nothing to do with the quality of cosmetic products.
If you use a product that does not match your skin type, the skin can react; most people know their skin types, but some are not well informed or have a problem to determine because the skin shows characteristics of several skin types and good reaction to different products that usually do not match the type. Emollient products, for instance, can cause the skin to develop clogged pores if your skin is oily.
The skin will dry out if you apply many products with potent ingredients at the same time, like anti-aging products.
If your skin is overly sensitive and reacts to anything you apply to your skin.
Mineral oil, for instance, can clog pores and cause blemishes. The oil is used in many cosmetic products, from creams and cleansers to makeup.
How can you know if products contain mineral oils?
Remember: products that contain mineral oil contain ingredients such as liquid paraffin, liquid petroleum, paraffin oil, paraffinum liquidum, petrolatum liquid, petroleum oil, white mineral oil, and white oil.
If you are using regular soaps as a face body cleanser, you should consider replacing it with better face cleanser.
Soaps can strip skin of essential nutrients and decrease skin’s elasticity. Regular soaps are usually made from tallow, coconut, and palm oils via a chemical process called saponification. The problem is that our skin has a basic pH between 4.5 and 5.5, and soaps made via saponification have between pH 8 and pH 11. The high pH can dry out skin even more or cause additional problems for those suffering from eczema.
Moreover, even products created for sensitive skin can irritate the skin, concludes a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology:
“Most products recommended for sensitive skin have a considerable irritation effect, which is related to the pH of the product. Better regulation of advertisement specifications including the pH level and type of cleanser contained is necessary for the majority of soaps and cleansers.”
Another study published in Dermatologic Therapy showed that harsh cleaners can lead to irritation and dryness because surfactants in these products can damage proteins and lipids in skin, and thus, strip natural oils from the skin.
“In vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo studies have shown that surfactants that cause significant skin irritation interact strongly with skin proteins.”
Makeup poses a great risk to skin’s health. Cosmetics like skin foundation, lotions, cleansers, eye liners, eye shadow, mascara, and removers can also cause dry out the skin under the eyes.
Heat softens skin’s oils, and without them, your skin becomes itchy and dry.
Hot water impacts the blood flow and brings circulation to the skin turning it red, which is a sign that your skin is drying out. If you regularly take hot showers, your skin might start to crack.
So if for any reason you are washing your face with hot water, you should stop. If apart from hot water, you add a soap to your daily face cleansing routine – it’s a perfect recipe for damaging your skin.
If your doctor has prescribed you medications for high blood pressure, and your skin starts to be dry and itchy, it’s a reaction to a drug and you should talk to your doctor.
Medications can cause dry skin by reducing stratum corneum’s water levels.
According to WebMD, medications that cause your skin to be abnormally dry are:
- Medications for high blood pressure, such as diuretics
- Medications for acne and other skin conditions, such as retinoids
There are medical conditions that can contribute to dry skin on every part of the body, including under the eyes.
Psoriasis, Seborrhea dermatitis, Eczema, and Blepharitis are known medical conditions that can severely affect the skin.
All of these conditions cause dry, flaky, irritable skin patches and redness. Blepharitis is probably the worst because it can cause inflammatory conditions that can harm the eyelids due to the oil glands malfunctioning.
Facial psoriasis occurs around your eyes, mostly in the eyebrows, but also on your face. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis causes the skin to dry and flake.
Seborrheic dermatitis, the condition that is known as dandruff, can occur on your face typically if you have oily skin. It is a red, scaly, itchy rash found on your eyelids. Skin can also turn white or yellow. Even though it’s a chronic condition, it can be controlled with good skin care.
Eczema, known as atopic dermatitis, causes severe dry patches anywhere on the body and can occur on the skin around your eyes, including your eyelids. Dryness and scaly skin are signs how you can recognize this condition, however, in extreme cases, it can cause swelling, and cracking.
Stress and sweat, as well as dust, and pollutants in the air can make eczema worse.
Eczema tends to be a chronic condition, which occasionally flares up and goes away. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for it.
Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition that causes red, itchy and flaky eyelids. Bacterial eyelid infection is the most common cause of the inflammation, which is frequently associated with psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. Pink eye and blepharitis can occur at the same time.
Diabetes and Hypothyroidism can cause dry skin
You might think that only skin-related conditions can cause dry skin. However, functions in our organism are interlinked. Skin is the largest organ in our body, our protector, and many functions in the body are closely linked to the skin and its functions. That’s how diabetes and hypothyroidism can cause dry skin.
High blood glucose causes the body to lose fluids, leading to dehydration, which in turn causes the skin to dry. Yellow, reddish or brown patches on the skin, hard thickening skin, different skin infections are common signs on the skin that you either have undiagnosed diabetes or that your treatment needs to be adjusted. Extremely dry, itchy skin can be both the sign of diabetes or the cause of diabetes.
When it comes to the skin around your eyes, the high levels of fat in the blood can cause yellowish patches on and around your eyelids. This condition is known as xanthelasma. If you see yellowish patches, you should tell your doctor about it immediately.
And what about hypothyroidism?
The functioning of our skin is controlled by hormones like the thyroid. Many functions in the body depend on thyroid hormone, such as the hair growth, the thickness of the skin, the grease glands, to name a few.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which a metabolic rate slows down. When someone is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, tiredness, fatigue, and leg cramps are common side effects. The skin becomes dry and pale and the dryness can be extreme – no sweating. The skin color also changes and can be yellow due to alteration in vitamin A.
Consult your doctor if you’ve been having these symptoms over a long period of time.
What about treatments?
According to the National Eczema Foundation, facial psoriasis can be treated with antibiotics, and eczema is treated with lotions and moisturizers, but sometimes also with topical or oral steroids. Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antibiotic, antifungal and antihistamine medicines are also used to treat eczema. Blepharitis is usually treated with antibiotics and/or steroid ointments.
Let’s look into good general guidelines for overall skin health.
1. Wear sunscreen
2. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
3. Stay hydrated; Drink at least eight cups of water a day
4. Avoid any caloric beverages
5. Get plenty of rest and avoid stress
6. Eat a healthy diet that is low in refined carbohydrates
7. Avoid sugar
8. Include colorful root vegetables in your diet and dark leafy greens
9. Do not forget about healthy fats
What else can you do?
1. Skip the eyeliner and mascara, if you can.
2. Test, before you buy it.
3. See how your skin responds to makeup and do a skin-patch test whenever possible.
4. Do not wear makeup when you are exercising or doing any kind of physical work, especially if you are working outdoors or under the sun; Heat, as well as sweat, clog pores near and around eyes.
5. If you must wear makeup, choose cosmetics that are hypoallergenic.
6. Do not forget to wash your face and remove makeup before going to sleep.
7. Wear your sunglasses when you go out.
8. Do not wear eye makeup every day
Forget about harsh soaps
The best option to prevent dryness is to opt for a fragrance-free face wash and soaps and fragrance-free lotions and moisturizers.
Choose a mild soap that contains:
1. Polyethylene glycol
2. Silicone surfactants
Avoid products that contain:
3. Alpha hydroxy acids
Wash your face with water
- Wash your face with lukewarm or warm water
- Avoid washing your face too frequently
- Avoid rubbing your face with unclean hands or clothes
- Use only your hands, avoid clothes
- Limit your shower time up to ten minutes
- Do not rub your face with towel, but pat your face
- Do not rub your eyes, and do not use harsh products on them
1. Moisturize right after you take a shower
2. Use a moisturizer that matches your skin type, and if possible, the one that is formulated for your face
3. Moisturize regularly, especially in the winter
4. Use a fragrance-free product that is gentle
5. To help combat skin-related problems, try keeping a lubricating moisturizer under the baseline of the eyes to help reduce dry skin.
6. Try keeping the entire face area clean and moisturized.
Prevent dry skin under eyes with a healthy diet
- Include fruit rich in vitamin C: grapefruit, oranges, berries, apple, and pineapple
- Empower your diet with almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, and pecans
- Drink tea, especially green tea
- Include green vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, celery, artichokes
- Get minerals and vitamins from beets, carrots, and pumpkin
- Try to avoid all activities that cause excessive sweating
- Wear protective clothes
- Avoid spending much time in space with air conditioning
- See a dermatologist if you have severe, persistent itching
Treatment for dry skin patches under the eyes
There is no single, simple cure for dry patches under the eyes but there are effective treatment methods on the market.
Simple psoriasis is treatable with local antibiotics and in mild case, a steroid may be needed. This is particularly true for sensitive areas. Creams are useful as well in treating dry, flaking and irritable skin conditions.
Most creams contain anesthetics, antifungal, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine and antibacterial properties. These anti properties are formulated to combat even the most bothersome dry skin. Some creams and ointments are designed specifically for the eye areas.
They help to keep the dry and sensitive areas of the eyes lubricated and moisturized.
But be cautious before you start to apply creams and read the label.
Other important factors to consider about dry eyes are environmental and diet changes. Eating right and drinking plenty of fluids can help get moisture in the body.
However, being in the sun for longer periods of time can damage the skin and dries it out. Use topical creams suitable for under eye dry skin and take plenty of nutrients and vitamins.
Dry skin around your eyes can be bothersome, but it can also be a sign of a more serious health problem.
Sometimes the changes in your diet or in the usage of cosmetic products can make significant improvements. Treat your skin carefully, and avoid all activities that can damage our protective organ. The skin underneath your eyes is as important as your eyes.
Contact your doctor to check whether you have an underlying condition that requires different treatment.
Image credit: DepositPhoto.com
Last article update: 02/19/2019