Dry Skin Under Eyes: Symptoms & Treatments

Last Updated: 05/26/2022

One of the causes of premature skin aging is dryness, so keeping your complexion properly hydrated is an absolute must. This is especially true for your under-eye area, which tends to be drier and more sensitive than the rest of your face. Without proper care, the skin underneath your eyes is often parched, causing it to show signs of premature aging (think sagging, fine lines and wrinkles) sooner than other areas. But what causes dry skin under the eyes? And more importantly, how do you keep this delicate area plump, soft and moisturized?

Most Common Causes for Dry Under-Eyes

The skin under your eyes is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of your body, which means it’s not as effective in absorbing and retaining moisture. This makes your under-eye area more prone to age-related skin degradation. Not to mention, constant dryness can lead to irritation and itching, which can lead to further damage.

Skin dryness under your eyes can be due to a number of reasons, and getting to the root of the problem is the first step in making sure your skin is getting all the love it needs. Below are some of the most common causes for dry under-eyes.

1. Atopic Dermatitis

A chronic condition, atopic dermatitis is the most common and most stubborn form of eczema. The condition often appears in babies and continues into adulthood. Its causes range from genetics and immune system deficiencies to environmental irritants and a weakened skin barrier.

Atopic dermatitis often presents as dry, itchy skin that can develop into a rash that feels bumpy, swollen or scaly. A few things can trigger or cause atopic dermatitis to flare up, including low humidity or dry air, stress, sweating, harsh soaps, certain fabric types and pet dander.

How to Treat Atopic Dermatitis

Managing atopic dermatitis is done by avoiding any known triggers, following a daily skin care routine, and taking supplements that strengthen the immune system. Rich moisturizers infused with ultra-nourishing ingredients, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid and fatty acids, alleviate dryness, itching and other common symptoms.

2. Contact Dermatitis

Ever had to deal with a red and itchy patch of skin after wearing a new piece of jewelry or spraying perfume? If you answered yes, then you’ve already experienced what it’s like to have contact dermatitis. Unlike atopic dermatitis, which tends to run in families and is associated with other allergic conditions, contact dermatitis only occurs when your skin is exposed to certain substances that irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. Think fragrance (both your perfume and the scents used in skin, hair and hygiene products), bleach and detergents, jewelry, alcohol and plants.

Contact dermatitis is divided into two types: irritant contact dermatitis (occurs when skin is exposed to irritating substances) and allergic contact dermatitis (happens when skin comes in contact with allergens, such as poison ivy, pollen and pet fur). Contact dermatitis can appear as a red rash and include itching, dryness, cracked or scaly skin, bumps and blisters, swelling and a burning sensation.

How to Treat Contact Dermatitis

Most of the time, contact dermatitis resolves on its own once the irritant is no longer in contact with the skin. But in severe cases, a dermatologist may prescribe topical steroids to treat its symptoms. Moisturizing creams or ointments can also be used to alleviate dryness and itching.

For allergic contact dermatitis, patch testing performed by a dermatologist may be required to rule out or identify potential allergens.

3. Blepharitis

Blepharitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids and can also affect the surrounding area. Some of its symptoms include watery and red eyes, itching, greasy or sticky eyelids, swelling and a burning sensation, scales that form on the base of eyelashes, light sensitivity and flaking around the eyes.

What causes it exactly is not entirely known, but some of the most common reasons cited include bacteria, dandruff, clogged pores and skin conditions like rosacea.

How to Treat Blepharitis

Blepharitis doesn’t completely go away, but managing its symptoms can be effectively done. Treatment starts with seeing a dermatologist or ophthalmologist to identify the type of blepharitis and what is causing it. The most important step in alleviating its symptoms is keeping your eyelids clean by applying warm compress to loosen crusts and washing with a gentle face cleanser that your dermatologist has approved. Massaging the eyelids and surrounding area also helps to prevent oil from accumulating in the skin’s glands.

4. Conjunctivitis

Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye conditions that is typically caused by bacteria, viruses and allergens. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious, while conjunctivitis caused by allergens and irritants tend to be non-infectious.

As its name suggests, pink eye causes the white part of one’s eye to turn red or pink. Other symptoms include swelling, excessive tear production, itching and burning, discharge and crusting of eyelids and eyelashes.

How to Treat Conjunctivitis

Medical treatment for conjunctivitis is not often necessary, but one should seek medical care when symptoms continue to get worse and when experiencing pain in the eyes, blurred vision and light sensitivity that doesn’t improve after eyes are cleaned of discharge and intense redness. For milder cases, applying a cold compress to the eye area can relieve inflammation. Over-the-counter artificial tears are also helpful in relieving dryness and itching.

5. Eczema

Eczema and atopic dermatitis are often used interchangeably, and that’s because eczema is the umbrella term used for a group of skin conditions that are typically characterized by inflammation, itching and redness or discoloration. Aside from atopic dermatitis, other types of eczema include contact dermatitis, neurodermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis.

The causes of eczema vary according to type. These can be irritants and allergens, foods, temperatures, bacteria, genetics, stress and hormones. Although eczema can have different types, they share similar symptoms, including rashes, dry skin on the affected areas, itching, sensitivity and inflammation.

How to Treat Eczema

There is no one cure for eczema, but various treatments exist to address its symptoms and prevent flare-ups. A dermatologist will prescribe a treatment plan depending on the type or cause of your skin condition. The most common treatments often involve moisturizing daily, washing with a gentle face cleanser or body wash, using a humidifier in dry or cold weather and taking warm baths.

Dry Under Eye Treatments

To prevent waking up to parched skin, here are some dry under-eye treatments you can easily add to your daily skin care routine.

1. Moisturize regularly. While your usual moisturizer may be great at keeping your face plump and nourished, it may not be enough for the extra-dry skin under your eyes. Use a moisturizer that is specially formulated for the eye area, and opt for ingredients that boost hydration, lock in moisture, improve circulation and brighten your peepers. You can never go wrong with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, ceramides and caffeine.

2. Use a gentle cleanser. Washing your face until it’s dry or irritated isn’t a sign that it’s getting cleaner. In fact, using the wrong face cleanser and over-washing can cause more damage to your skin. Make sure to use a gentle face wash that’s specially formulated for dry, sensitive or irritated skin, and avoid soaps, fragrance and other harsh chemicals that can trigger certain skin conditions to flare up.

3. Never go without sunscreen. Another important ingredient that you should never miss out on? SPF—but not just any SPF. Opt for a gentle formula that won’t sting, leave a greasy residue or irritate the sensitive skin under your eyes. Better yet, choose a moisturizing eye cream with SPF that’s specially formulated to nourish delicate skin while protecting your under-eye area from damaging UV rays and preventing degradation of other active ingredients.

4. Use certain ingredients with care. Retinol, salicylic acid, glycolic acid and vitamin C are all stellar skin care ingredients with plenty of anti-aging, antioxidant and complexion-enhancing benefits. But for some skin types, these ingredients can trigger dryness and irritation. If you must use them, it’s best to speak with your dermatologist about how to prep your skin and apply the products properly.

5. Use a humidifier. A humidifier helps to prevent dry skin by adding extra moisture to your skin (especially while you sleep), particularly during winter or if you live in a place with naturally dry weather.

How to Reduce the Chances of Getting Dry Skin Under Your Eyes

While there are plenty of steps you can take to manage dry skin under your eyes, it’s always better to stop the problem before it even starts. Here are some easy steps that will help you take care of your eye area and prevent getting dry skin under your eyes.

1. Update your skin care routine. There’s a reason that face wash you’ve loved for years isn’t cutting it anymore. Several factors can affect the way your skin behaves or reacts over time. Aging, lifestyle habits, stress levels and climate, to name a few, can affect your skin and trigger problems that you never had to deal with before. It’s always best to listen to your skin and take note of what still and what no longer works for you. When temperatures drop, for example, you may need to switch out your regular moisturizer for a richer cream to prevent the cold, dry air from sucking out all the moisture in your skin.

2. Avoid drying ingredients in your beauty and skin care products. Even if you’re not dealing with skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, rosacea and other types of eczema, alcohol, fragrances, parabens and sulfates are an absolute no if you want to maintain a plump and well-hydrated skin. These “chemicals of concern” have been found to irritate, cause dryness, and trigger common skin conditions. Instead, look for products from known clean beauty brands, such as KORRES, Juice Beauty, Sunday Riley and Caudalie, to name a few.

3. Don’t stress out your skin. Redness, breakouts and dullness are some of the most common stress-related skin concerns. But what you may not realizes is that there are other things you may be doing in your everyday life that stresses out your skin. Lack of sleep, for example. Rubbing and scratching the skin, especially under your eyes, can also irritate your complexion and cause sagging. So do using dirty makeup brushes and not being gentle when applying makeup.

4. Boost skin health from within. You all know by now that drinking the right amount of water is crucial in having radiant and healthy skin. Aside from this, it’s equally important to eat a proper diet, especially one that’s loaded with antioxidants and skin-nourishing vitamins and minerals.

5. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. The right moisturizer can make a world of difference for the skin under your eyes. But not all moisturizers are created equal, so make sure to reach for one that has your under-eye skin as a top priority. Moisturizing eye creams are rich yet gentle enough to plump up your complexion and offer long-lasting hydration without irritating delicate skin.

SkinStore’s Expert Picks on Top Under Eye Products

Need help finding the perfect moisturizer for the skin under your eyes? These top under-eye products are some of SkinStore’s absolute faves!

  1. Dermalogica Intensive Eye Repair
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    Dermalogica Intensive Eye Repair

    If you’re on the lookout for an intensely rich and moisturizing eye cream, then your search ends here. Formulated for ultra-dry skin, this concentrated eye cream is all you need to hydrate, nourish and plump up your under-eye area—thanks to its skin-loving formula that boasts of phytonutrients, antioxidants and nourishing botanicals. Not only does it keep dryness at bay, it also helps refine the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, brighten complexion and restore damaged skin.

    Buy now with free delivery
  2. The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
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    The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

    Fans of the brand know by now that just because this non-greasy moisturizer is light on the pocket doesn’t mean it also packs a light punch. Au contraire. Its ultra-hydrating formula is infused with hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant, and a potent blend of amino acids, fatty acids and other compounds that work together to deliver a boost of hydration on the outer layers of the skin. The result? Instantly radiant, plump and healthier-looking skin.

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  3. VERSO Eye Cream Extra Nourish
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    VERSO Eye Cream Extra Nourish

    From being exposed to UV rays and pollution to lack of sleep and tugging during makeup application, your under-eye skin endures a lot of damage throughout the day. It only makes sense to strengthen its delicate skin barrier and add a much-needed dose of hydration to prevent dryness, free radical damage and early signs of aging. This moisturizing under-eye cream gets the job done with its nourishing formula that’s infused with oat lipids, Nordic oils and hydrolyzed yeast.

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Last Updated: 05/26/2022 Love Skincare? discover our edit of the best treatment for wrinkles around mouth.

Schané Flowers

Schané Flowers

Beauty Editor

A beauty enthusiast by heart and a plant lover, I'm always looking for the latest and greatest in skincare and beauty, especially clean and organic! I think everyone's entitled to high quality skincare at any budget, and I'm always on the lookout for what's new in the industry be it tips, tricks, or products!

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