Don’t rub it in
Many conditions can cause your eyelashes and eyelash line to feel itchy. If you’re experiencing itchy eyelashes, it’s important not to scratch as this can further irritate or possibly infect the area.
The underlying cause of itchy eyelashes is often some type of external irritant. Sometimes it’s a health condition. The cause will determine how you should treat it. Some treatments will require a doctor’s care but others can be treated at home.
There are many potential causes of itchy eyelashes. Here are seven possible reasons.
Eyelid dermatitis can be caused by an allergic reaction. It can happen in one or both eyes. This condition causes:
- itching of the eyelids and eyelashes
- scaly skin
It’s possible to be allergic to ingredients found in many products you use on, near, or in your eye. These products include:
- eye and face makeup
- contact lens solution
- medications for conditions such as glaucoma
You can also get itchy eyelids from products you use and touch with your hands if you then touch your eyes.
Allergies can be tricky. Sometimes, you’ll realize you’re allergic to a new product right away. Other times, a tried-and-true cosmetic will suddenly become responsible for itching in your eyelashes and eyelid margins – the area of the eye where your eyelash follicles grow.
Allergies to products sometimes become worse as your exposure to them increases. This can also happen with eye drop medications.
Itchy eyelashes and eyes can be caused by seasonal or year-round allergens. Seasonal allergens include pollen and ragweed. Year-round allergens include dust, dust mites, and mold.
Your body reacts to these irritating substances by producing histamine in the eye tissues, causing extreme itching, swelling, and redness.
This chronic condition affects the area of the eyelid where your eyelashes grow and typically occurs in both eyes simultaneously. There are two types:
- anterior blepharitis, which affects the outside edge of your eyelid where eyelashes grow
- posterior blepharitis, which affects the inner edge of your eyelid where your eyeball comes in contact with the eyelid
Blepharitis can have many causes, including:
- bacterial infections
- eyelash mites or lice
- seborrheic dermatitis
- clogged oil glands
It causes itching, burning, and swelling. This condition can also cause your eyelashes to fall out or to grow in a slanted direction.
A stye, also known as a hordeolum, is a hard bump that might appear suddenly in your lash line. They often resemble pimples and can range in size from small to large. Styes are often caused by an infection in an eyelash follicle. Styes can be itchy and painful or may simply be visible without pain.
Dry eye syndrome
This condition occurs when your eyes don’t produce enough tears to keep them lubricated. This can cause itching. Inadequate tear production can also lead to an accumulation of foreign matter in the eyes, which might further irritate or infect them, causing additional itching to occur.
This rare eye condition is caused by an infestation of lice, which are more typically found in the pubic region or other areas of the body. While rare in eyelashes, it can cause intense itching. This condition may be mistaken for blepharitis.
An eye infection like conjunctivitis, known as pinkeye, is highly contagious. It can occur in one or both eyes. Pinkeye can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It causes itching, a gritty feeling under the eyelid, redness, and swelling.
Itching in the eye area can feel localized, occurring only in the lash line. The feeling can also extend to your entire eye or eyelid. Based on the cause, other symptoms can also be associated with itchy eyelashes. These include:
- abrupt change in or loss of vision
- eye discharge
- eye pain
- greasy skin on the eyelids
- gritty or burning sensation in or around the eye
- red skin on and around the eye
- scaly or flaking skin
- swelling of the eyelid and under the eye area
There are a number of treatments you can try at home. These include:
- Antihistamines. Over-the-counter allergy eye drops work by reducing the amount of histamine in the eye. You can try using these on their own or combine them with an oral antihistamine.
- Cleansing. Keeping your eyelids clean can be beneficial in all cases. Don’t use a drying soap, especially if you have dermatitis. If you have blepharitis, massage your eyelids gently with a cloth to stop oil from gathering in your eyelid glands. You can also try gently washing your lids with diluted baby shampoo or an eyelid cleanser designed for this purpose.
- Corticosteroid creams. Some of these creams, such as 0.5 to 1 percent hydrocortisone, are mild enough for use on your eyelid. These may help alleviate itching caused by eyelid dermatitis. Don’t use strong products, as these can thin the skin of the eyelid. Make sure you don’t get the cream into your eye.
- Liquid tears. These eye drops can also help reduce itching caused by conjunctivitis and dry eye syndrome.
- Moisturize the area. Use an unscented moisturizer to soothe and nourish eyelid skin, especially if you have dermatitis.
- Warm or cool compresses. If you have a stye or viral conjunctivitis, warm compresses can help soothe the area, helping it heal. Warm compresses can also be beneficial for removing any crusts caused by blepharitis. Applying a warm compress can help encourage excess fluid to circulate out of your eyelid area.
There are several strategies you can try for preventing itchy eyelashes. Here are eight things you can try:
- Clean your bedding and towels often.
- Discard eye makeup and eye products older than six months.
- Don’t share your makeup or use store testers on your face or eyes.
- If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break for a few days by wearing glasses. If this isn’t possible, make sure to cleanse your lenses often or switch to daily wear lenses and replace your contact lens case.
- Keep your eyelids and the surrounding area clean, including going makeup-free if possible for a few days.
- Try not to rub or touch your eyes with your hands to prevent the introduction of allergens to the area.
- Try switching your current makeup for hypoallergenic varieties.
- Try to identify the products that may be causing your itchy eyelids. Try eliminating one product or ingredient at a time for one to two days. Or, eliminate all products and slowly reintroduce each item one at a time.
Itchy eyelashes may respond to at-home treatments within a few days. If the itching doesn’t go away easily, gets worse, or returns, you should consult a doctor. Also, be sure to see your doctor if itching is uncontrollable or causing you distress.
Make an appointment with your doctor if the itching is accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- pain in your eye area
- blurriness in your vision
- oily, scaly skin on your eyelids
If at-home treatments don’t work, your doctor can evaluate and diagnose your symptoms, providing treatment, and hopefully, faster relief.
To determine what’s causing the itch, your doctor will try to uncover allergens in your products or environment which might be causing the problem.
You might also be given a test for allergic substances, such as a patch test. This test introduces possible irritants to your skin via adhesive patches to see which ones you react to.
Your doctor will look at your eye for signs of infection. If they suspect blepharitis, you may have a swab test of your eyelid done. This will remove scabs and oil from the eyelid so they can be analyzed for allergens, bacteria, or fungi in the laboratory.
For some conditions, such as bacterial conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic eye drop.
Itching eyelashes can be caused by a wide range of conditions, including allergens and irritants in the environment. Itching and discomfort can often be treated at home. When itching is severe, doesn’t resolve easily, or is accompanied by other symptoms, like eye pain, seeing a doctor can help.