Itchy, Irritated Eyelids? Fight Back

7:56 AM

Allergy season is almost upon us, and itchy eyes, nose, skin, and throat is par for the course for many. But there are plenty of people out there that experience itchy, irritated eyelid skin all year round and no amount of Zyrtec or Benadryl is going to help.  In fact, they will probably make it worse. That's because allergies can cause itching, but so can dryness and inflammation, both of which are chronic and can cause you to experience red, itchy eyeild symptoms year round.

Why do the eyelids get itchy or irritated?  The skin of your eyelid is incredibly thin and delicate, and the blood vessels are quite close to the surface.  As a result, any internal inflammation causing the veins to dilate and fluid to pool under the eyelid skin is going to make a bigger impact. The thin eyelid skin swells quickly, giving you that red puffy appearance. Check out this post for more

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Another culprit to eyelid irritation is the eyelashes themselves.  Think of your lashes like little feather dusters, catching debris and keeping it away from the eye itself.  The eyelash follicle is a collection area for tons of microscopic allergens like pollen, dust, dry skin, makeup and even an inviting little home for mites like Demodex that survive off of eating your dry skin particles. Read more here. All of this is going on at a microscopic level that you aren't visibly going to see when you wash your face, and as a result, when was the last time you really cleaned carefully right into your eyelash roots? Scary, right.

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Right on the inside of the eyelash follicle in the delicate waterline area are your meibomian glands, oil glands responsible for secreting the top layer of your tear film with every blink.  These glands are easily clogged by dry skin and debris, or by anything that can harden oils like cold air, wind, inflamed eyelid skin (inflammation makes the lid margin swell and can block the gland opening), and not blinking frequently enough (like when we use computers, cell phones, or even read for long periods of time).  If your oil glands are malfunctioning, your body can even start making soaps along your eyelid margin which foam up and of course cause stinging and burning.  Keeping those oil glands open, free of debris, and properly secreting is essential to comfortable eyelids and the eye itself -- if you don't have a good tear film, your body can't blink away debris properly and you'll have worsened ocular allergies!  It's all a terrible feedback circle.

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Now that we've got the picture for why our eyelids need help, how do we clean them properly to get rid of debris and reduce irritation?  Soap and water is often much too harsh for your delicate eyelid skin, and if we are cleaning right into the lash roots, of course it could get into your eye and burn like crazy.  That's why baby shampoo was so popular for a while, but if you've ever used baby shampoo regularly for eyelid cleansing, you know it is incredibly harsh and drying for routine use.  Instead, we need a product that will clean, but won't strip all the oils from your skin and leave it parched,dry, and irritated all over again.

My Favorite Products:

Blephadex:
If you don't read anything else, just buy this.  Hands down this is the best eyelid cleansing product I have ever used.  It is coconut oil and tea tree oil based -- great for sensitive skin types and incredibly soothing.  The coconut oil will hydrate your skin while it's cleaning, and the tea tree oil is excellent for reducing Demodex colonies and inflammation.  It is an excellent eye makeup remover; you can rub it right into your lash follicles and not worry about burning or stinging.  For most people, using this product every other night will be enough on a routine basis, but if you have a lot of irritation going on you might want to use it nightly for a week to get things under control.

Pads or Foam Version via Amazon

Ocusoft: 
Before I found Blephadex I had been using Ocusoft pads for years and they work wonderfully. Excellent for nightly makeup removal, non-drying, and easy to find over the counter at your local pharmacy, Target, or even grocery store.  Ocusoft also makes an excellent pump bottle foam, a spray version for those who do better with a less aggressive approach, and even cooling gel for night time use.
Ocusoft pads have been solving eye irritation successfully for years and are easy to find over the counter at your local pharmacy or on Amazon
The HypoChlor spray or gel is a new product, great for eyes that don't need the intensity of the foaming pad and need a more gentle approach without sacrificing effective bacteria and inflammation control.  Applying HypoChlor gel at night is a great soothing way to kill bacteria and reduce eyelid swelling while you sleep. via


Avenova:
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This hypochloric acid spray is all natural and easy to use -- just spritz a few times on a cotton pad, then rub along your eyelids.  It's incredibly gentle but cuts debris and dry skin quickly without you needing to rub much at all.  This product is gentle enough for use every single day, but it kills the most common strains of skin bacteria (and even MRSA!) in under 1 minute.  If you are prone to chronic styes, this is the product for you.  I've had several patients using daily Ocusoft still get styes (a bacterial infection of the meibomian gland), and according to their data, Ocusoft can take more than 30 minutes to kill these same bacterial strains.  So if you've tried Ocusoft and are still getting styes, this prescription lid cleanser would be a great alternative.  Right now Avenova is the only product listed here that is only available with prescription, typically running about $30 at your local pharmacy.


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2 comments

  1. I am unable to find Blephadex on Amazon?

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    Replies
    1. No one seems to have it on Amazon at the moment but you can get it here: https://www.macularhealth.com/product/blephadex-eyelid-foam-a/

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