A head full of flaky, itchy misery isn’t exactly terribly fun, and can lead to serious irritation and redness. Thing is, though, you can get dandruff other places too. Pretty much anywhere hair grows, to be specific, and that includes your lash line.
Eyelash dandruff leads to itchy, crusty, red, and flaky eyelashes and lash line, and it can not only be irritating as hell, but obvious to others as well. Plus, it neither looks nor feels very pretty.
Even worse, if you get it once, you’re likely to get it again; just like scalp dandruff, eyelash dandruff tends to be genetic, and if you have the genes for it, it’ll be chronic.
This means that in order to deal with chronic eyelash dandruff, you’ll want to develop a long-term treatment plan to get it to go into remission, and have an emergency flare-up toolkit just in case you get a “surprise.”
Here’s a roundup of the best ways to banish eyelash dandruff for good!
Zinc Soap for Long-Term Management
There are many varieties of soap that contain zinc, a mineral known for its soothing and cleansing properties, often used in lotions for sensitive skin and for rashes, skin irritations, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and on and on.
For eyelash dandruff, specifically try and look for a pyrithione zinc soap, which is especially useful for soothing red, itchy dandruff symptoms. Using such a soap at least once a day, up to twice a day, on your lash line, can help reduce the symptoms of eyelash dandruff and fight back against the unpleasant flakiness, redness, and irritation.
Just apply around the lash line very carefully, while keeping your eyes tightly shut (you don’t want to get any in your eyes, but if you do, just rinse thoroughly with water), rub it in, leave it there for a few minutes, then rinse off.
Overtime, consistent use of a zinc-containing soap every day can help keep eyelash dandruff (and other forms of dandruff, for that matter, if you happen to have the more commonly seen scalp dandruff too) at bay. Specifically, this helps fend off the yeast germs that can cause or contribute to irritation from dandruff.
Baby Shampoo Solution for Flare-Ups
Of course, while the above is a great long-term management plan, if you get a sudden flare-up or are dealing with a severe case at the start of your treatment, you’re gonna want to bring out some bigger guns, so to speak, at least for a little while.
One particularly helpful method is to mix a single squirt of baby shampoo into a glass of water, mix it well, and then dip a cotton Q-tip into this solution. You then close one eye, hold your eyelid taut with one hand, and carefully run the Q-tip across the lash line once or twice. Wet the other end of the swab with the solution, close the other eye, and repeat.
When finished, rinse both eyes (while closed) thoroughly with warm water to remove the baby shampoo solution. Do this right after showing, or right after soaking the eyelids with a wet, warm wash cloth for five minutes. Make sure you apply the solution to both the upper and lower lash lines on each eye. Repeat once or twice a day until the flare-up passes.
It seems too simple to work, right? Thing is, the solution helps to remove built up oil, dead skin cells, and microorganisms, all of which can clog the pores in the lash line and make inflammation and irritation worse.
That simple cleansing keeps clogged glands and crust from building up and perpetuating the itchy, irritating feeling and puffiness. It also removes yeast germs that contribute to dandruff, and can even help remove demodex mites, which may be a major cause of dandruff in the first place (there is some evidence, but no conclusive research yet).
Targeted cleaning of the lash line with a weak solution of a cleaning agent specifically designed to be gentle and non-irritating – like baby shampoo – can remove all of these contributing factors without causing worse irritation.
Warm Compress for Immediate Relief
A moist, warm compress is a great, easy way to get immediate relief from redness, itchiness, dryness and irritation – basically all the symptoms of eyelash dandruff. Plus, the warmth stimulates the glands in your eyes to release beneficial fluids that moisten and refresh your eyes and lash line.
Simply wet a hand towel or washcloth with warm water and wrap around the affected area. Leave on for five minutes to a half hour, getting up to re-heat as necessary. A great thing to try during a nice afternoon nap.
Another option is to pick up a ready-made moist heat compress like the Thermalon Dry Eye Compress that you can use just for your eyes. It only takes 20 seconds in the microwave to heat up to the perfect warmth!
Aloe Vera to Soothe and Hydrate
The aloe vera plant is well known for its soothing properties, and is helpful for a variety of applications, from burns of all types (sunburns, heat burns, chemical burns, etc) to itches, rashes, and more. It turns out, eyelash dandruff is one more thing it can help with.
Try applying some with a cotton swab to your lash line in a similar manner as the baby shampoo solution above (hold the eyelid taut with the eye closed), to both the upper and lower lash lines.
You probably don’t want to leave it on all day, though, so after five minutes or so, close your eyes and rinse them thoroughly with warm water. Or apply it at night so it can hydrate your lash line while you sleep.
Nourish with Natural Oils
Natural oils like olive, almond, avocado, emu, and coconut oil aren’t just great for nurturing weak, fragile lashes back to health. These natural oils are chock full of omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E and proteins that help moisturize and nourish the red, irritated skin on your lash line, repairing broken skin and relieving the symptoms of eyelash dandruff.
Plus, they’re so simple to use. Go for a Q tip to apply a tiny dab of the oil of your choice to your lash line. Don’t use too much as oils can weigh down your lashes and be uncomfortable if they get into your eyes. And again, night time is best for this so your eyelid skin can soak in the oils as you sleep.
Hydrate with Hyaluronic Acid
As you get older, your body naturally produces less hyaluronic acid, leaving your eyes less protected, more dry and more prone to irritation. And it’s not just your eyes, the lack of hydration also affects your skin.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways for you to restore the lost hyaluronic acid and reap the benefits. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found good results in treating seborrheic dermatitis – i.e. dandruff – with two months of topical hyaluronic acid. You can easily do this for your eyes with hyaluronic acid eye drops.
A good idea is to also supplement with hyaluronic acid supplements to replenish moisture from the inside out.
You Are What You Eat
Eating well and drinking lots of water can have a big impact on your skin and hair (including head hair, eyebrows, eyelashes…pretty much any hair that grows on your body). See, the nutrients you take into your body are distributed to your various cells, including skin cells, and further have an indirect effect on the keratin-based substance that our nails and hair are made up of. So, eating properly can in fact help both your eyelashes and the skin around them, as well as the skin and hair on the rest of your body.
And always make sure you drink plenty of water. Keep a water bottle or cup of water nearby at all times, and sip when thirsty. Further, make sure you’re getting a healthy serving of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
Repair from the Inside Out with Biotin
As mentioned above, the nutrients you take into your body have a big effect on the body itself, and when it comes to hair and nails, biotin has potentially the biggest impact on their quality of anything you consume.
Further, while biotin is typically produced naturally by everyone within the digestive tract, some people loose the ability to do with age, or never have it in the first place, often because of genetic reasons.
As such, there’s always a chance that your eyelash dandruff is actually the cause of a deeper issue, namely, a biotin deficiency, which can cause eczema, flaky and itchy skin, and – you guessed it – dandruff. Add a daily biotin supplement or drops to your routine to help restore healthy skin and eyelashes from the inside out!
See a Doctor
Home remedies and over-the-counter products can only do so much, however, and if you’ve tried everything you can think of and the eyelash dandruff doesn’t budge, it’s time to see a dermatologist about the problem.
There are a lot of very helpful creams, ointments, washes, and more that can help with your eyelash dandruff, that are prescription-only, which means you’ve gotta see a doctor to get them (typically there are good reasons for this, as many treatments, while perfectly safe if used correctly, can be very harmful if abused or used incorrectly).
It’s also helpful to have a professional who’s had training and experience in the field of dermatology be able to actually look at your problem and give you a professional opinion and work together with you to come up with an effective treatment plan that can get you dandruff-free and then keep you there.
So by all means, try the at-home solutions first if you like. Maybe you have a mild enough case to take care of it yourself with nothing but zinc soap, baby shampoo, and miscellaneous home remedies. But if you’ve gone a couple weeks with these treatments and haven’t seen much, if any improvement, it’s time to call up your local dermatologist and make that appointment.