Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Health >
Hi. I've had itchy, eyelash ''dandruff'' for several years now and
am searching for advice on how to treat it effectively (and to
learn what it is!). The condition makes my eyelids itchy and red
and I unconsciously rub my eyes a lot a night. I have lived all
over the country/world during this time period, so the condition
shouldn't be related to any kind of allergy. Years ago, a
dermatologist said it was harmless and recommended simply putting
over-the-counter strength hydrocortisone ointment on my eyelids
for several weeks to clear it up. I tried this on several
occasions and haven't had much luck. I am also concerned about
about using hydrocortisone near my eyes. Recently, I read
somewhere that perhaps this condition is related to rosacea,
which I have had a mild case of for several years as well
(although the dandruff appeared first). I am also breastfeeding.
If anyone has experience/knowledge with this condition and can
advise me, I'd appreciate it. Thanks
Your eyelash ''dandruff'' is most likely associated with your rosacea - I have the
same thing, and have for years. The best thing to do is to scrub your eyelids along
the lash line with baby shampoo everyday when you're in the shower. This will get rid
of the flaking, and then prevent it from coming back. Then use hypo-allergenic tears
to keep your eyes from becoming dry, which is usually what sets this off. Your eyes
get dry...you rub your eyes....your eyes get worse...
I also have a couple of prescription ointments (meant for the eye only, not topicals!)
that I've used when this has gotten particularly bad, but since using this wash/tears
regime I haven't had an outbreak in over a year. Sometimes you need an opthamologist
to prescribe something to break the cycle, and then this regime will work for you.
You should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist, but you are describing the symptoms
of blepharitis (google it). You're going to get a bunch of messages saying this; it's
pretty common. My opto gave me an eyelid scrub, and that helps a lot, although plain
old soap works too. If it is an allergy issue at
all, your opto may have you try Patanol eyedrops. Just see
the appropriate professional and I think you'll quickly be on your way to having it
No more itchy eyes
My eye doctor told me to gently scrub my eyelashes and eyebrows with a washcloth and
Baby Shampoo, once a day for a month. This cured it anon
All three of my sons had eyelash dandruff. The pediatrician and dermatologist
suggested washing their hair with dandruff shampoo and then washing their eyebrows and
eyelashes as well with the shampoo. This worked very well. Flakes from their hair were
falling and landing in their eyebrows and lids. Keeping their hair away from their
face also helped along with the shampoo-no bangs! Obviously, this isn't for for
infants, and the kids didn't really develop the problem until they were about 7 years
You can use a Q-tip on your eyelashes with the shampoo.
Ovbiously, keep your eyes closed and rinse well with water. Try this two or three
times a week Jan
I had/have something that sounds similar. It is called blepharitis, and it is caused
by a number of things, but one of them can be a recurring bacterial infection. It
seems that this is a bacteria that takes up residence in the skin right where your
eyelashes emerge, and while it is always present, it flares up at periods of stress (I
have had it for the past 6 months while I have been pregnant)-- maybe the
breastfeeding is enough of a strain to cause a flare up.
In any case, I was diagnosed by an optometrist at Kaiser who told me the same thing
that two advice nurses and my Nurse Practitioner told me: clean the eyelids twice a
day with a mild baby shampoo. Put the shampoo in your hand and then adda drop or two
of water and BRISKLY rub your finger across the base of your eyelashes. I tried this
for about a week and didn't see any improvement, so that's when I went to the
optometrist who said that I had not been doing it for long enough. I told him I needed
more help, and he gave me a prescription antibiotic ointment that I used for a week
until I had a terrible reaction (eyes swelled shut). I went back to the baby shampoo
and washing my face whenever possible with plain water, and it cleared right up (like
in 2-3 weeks).
Make sure the baby shampoo has no scent/colors etc. I'm all better now, but they say
this will flare up throughout life. amy
You have blephoritis. You should see your optometrist so he/she can assess how bad it
is and advise you what to do (which will most likely include hot compresses and
cleaning with baby
If you've seen a doctor, you've likely been told this, but it sounds like you have
blepharitis -- specifically seborrheic blepharitis. Have you tried warm compresses
and careful, regular eyewashing with warm water? I get the same problem occasionally
(though not as seriously as your post suggests), and this helps me.
Here's a good webpage to read up:
This is a kind of seborrhia--that's why the hydrocortisone doesn't work.
Hydrocortisone also thins the skin--not a good idea on thin eyelid skin. I had this
condition with an allergy outbreak. Several weeks of treating it with diluted
Johnson's baby shampoo (must be this brand!) and a q-tip did the trick.
Dilute a few drops of the shampoo with a little water, dip in a q-tip, and scrub your
closed eyelid near the lash line. Rinse well, obviously. Do several times a day.
This cleared it up for me and despite other problems like rosacea and eczema, it's
never come back to haunt me Former sufferer
More from ''former sufferer:''
Here's a site with graphic photos to check and see what you have.
This is/has been called granulated eyelids and is somewhat common. I had it many
years ago and used vaseline on my eyelids/lashes when I went to bed and after a year
or so it completely disappeared and has never returned in over 30 years.
My husband had the same problem for many years, it's called Blufferitis (sp?) and it
is an allergy. His MD told him that it is related to dust mite allergy.
He used a topical cream like Aquaphor to reduce the flakiness.
Interestingly, when he stopped smoking pot, the condition disappeared anon
I've had chronically infected eyelids my whole life. It mostly doesn't bother me, but
my eye dr has recommended applying very diluted baby shampoo with a q-tip. Hope this
Best to go to a ophthamologist.
You may have blepharitis, which is not serious, but annoying. Try a warm water soaked
washcloth for 5 minutes, then scrubbing gently with a q-tip using an eye cleaning
solution (can get at drugstores - make sure it's eye cleaning scrub, not contact lens
anything), then rinse. Can use baby shampoo instead - but it may sting a bit.
But- i still recommend professional attention Michael
This may have nothing to do with your condition since my symptoms were different, but
for what it's worth... I wear contact lenses and about five years ago I was having a
terrible problem with gunk in my eyes so that my contacts were always filmed over.
Basically, about two hours after putting on my contacts the problem would start, and
I'd have to remove my contacts. I was seen at the contact lens clinic at UC Berkeley,
and they told me that I was having an allergic reaction to the bacteria living in and
around my eyelashes, a condition called blepharitis. They gave me some antibiotic
ointment that I applied for however long I was supposed to. Then I was told to EVERY
DAY for the rest of my life to wash my eyelashes with baby shampoo. I put just a tiny
bit on my finger and gently rub it over my top and bottom eyelashes for about 30 s.
Since I've been doing this, I haven't had the problem and can wear my contacts
comfortably all day.
Here is a link to an article on
It sounds like seborrheic dermatitis. It's a common and treatable condition but
hydrocortisone won't help. you need a special prescription fellow sufferer
Not really sure about your situation, but I often get mucous in my eyes that gets
hard. When this happens, I drink chrysanthemum
(sp?) flower tea made pretty strong over the course of 1 or 2 days. I buy the flowers
at Lhasa Karnak herbs on Shattuck (there's also one on Telegraph). I discovered this
method for clearing up my eyes because what the doctor prescribed wasn't working and I
wandered into a Chinese herb store about 20 years ago and showed them my eyes - they
recommended the tea and it's worked wonders for me Bright Eyed (but not bushy tailed)
I have a minor case of rosacea and have had the same problem with my eyelids.
After many years of dealing with the annoyance, I sought help at several different eye
clinics before I finally found a solution that works for me. An eye doctor recommended
that I (a) make sure I keep the rosacea under control, and (b) wash my eyelids daily
with baby shampoo--and I mean really scrub, harder than you would think would be
necessary. I use Metrogel for the rosacea, and keeping it under control elsewhere on
my face definitely reduces it on my eyelids, even though I obviously don't apply the
Metrogel directly to my lids. And as far as the baby shampoo, the doc's point was
simply that the developing skin flakes on your lid can and should be scrubbed off with
soap so that your pores/lashes will function properly--accumulated ''gunk'' can make
the condition worse, even if it seems intuitive to leave the lids alone because
they're so irritated.
Anyhow, this regimen has worked for me very well, and the flakes have been gone now
for several years.
Hope that helps
It sounds to me as though you might have a condition called seborrheic blepharitis.
For more info, go to www.medlineplus.gov, click on ''Health Conditions'' and type in
these terms. There can be many causes of this condition, including scalp dandruff,
bacteria, acne or problems with the oil glands in the eyelid (Meibomian glands). To
determine if the problem stems from an infection or the oil glands in the eye, you may
want to consider seeing an eye doctor. In any case, regardless of the cause, treatment
is focused on keeping the lids clean and crust-free. You can use warm compresses and a
mixture of tear-free baby shampoo diluted with water (1:4
ratio) to gently cleanse your eyelids. In some cases, drug-free ocular lubricants may
be of help too. It's generally not a good idea to use steroids long-term on the face,
unless you've been told to do so by a doctor and are being closely followed by a
doctor a pharmacist
That sounds like rosacea to me. My husband has it, and struggled with eyes that
eventually were not just flaky, but also goopy.
It was misdiagnosed, and then only gently treated, to the point where he now has a
scar on his cornea from uncontrolled rosacea on his eyelids (at the eyelashes, and
underneath the lid).
I'd recommend seeing an opthamologist, and pick one who will aggressively treat the
rosacea (not just try to ''keep it down a bit''). My husband was on systemic
antibiotics for a while (tetracycline), and also washed his eyes with a special
solution every day, for several years.
Stress and alcohol exaggerated the rosacea outbursts for my husband. Avoiding those
triggers for a while also helped things clear up with his eyes.
I believe he still has the condition (it's chronic), but has been symptom-free for a
long time, even though he is not taking tetracycline anymore, and only washes his face
normally. He does use a lot of eyedrops (the lubricating kind), as his eyes tend to
dry--that also appears to be related to the rosacea.
He doesn't have to treat it as aggressively anymore. Donna
The optometrist would be another person to consult about this. Mine told me something
about your topic, but it is not much of a problem for me and I can't remember any
You most likely have ocular rosacea, in which your facial rosacea has spread to your
eyelids. Get to a new dermatologist!
You need to have it evaluated and treated with prescription medication, not OTC
I also have had mild rosacea for years, and one thing about the condition is that if
you don't treat it, it eventually gets worse.
Look it up on the Web-- there is a site called rosacea.org.
Here is some basic info:
''Ocular rosacea can affect both the eye surface and eyelid.
Symptoms can include redness, dry eyes, foreign body sensations, sensitivity of the
eye surface, burning sensations and eyelid symptoms such as styes, redness, crusting
and loss of eyelashes. Ocular rosacea can leave the eyes feeling irritated and
Many who have rosacea mistakenly think they have allergies.
Use of prescription steroid based eye drops will usually help improve this condition.
More severe cases may require oral tetracycline or minocin. Rosacea is more common in
individuals with fair complexions, with women affected at a higher rate than men.
Patients who are from ethnic backgrounds such as Great Britain (including Ireland,
Scotland and Wales), Germany and Scandinavia tend to be more likely candidates,
although anyone can develop rosacea. This disease typically develops anywhere between
the ages of 30-50. What causes rosacea is still unknown. We do know that the skin form
of rosacea is more common in patients who had significant acne earlier in life or have
a family history of rosacea.''
I had something like this too and was told several years back by
an opthomologist that it's called Blepharitis and to clean my
eyelids/lash area with ''lid scrub'' pads (available at drug stores
- Ocuscrub is the brand I got.) I was chronically getting eye
infections at the time and it seemed to help.
Hi- I tend to have dry eyes and the UC optometry school said it
was because of a mild version of something like what you
describe. They instructed me to wash my eyelashes gently but
thoroughly each night with a drop of baby shampoo.
Later, a friend showed me an article from (the Harvard Health
Letter? The UC Berkeley Wellness letter??) where an
opthomologist reported on his findings that more effective was a
daily 15 minute warm wet compress on the eyes, followed by a
gentle washing with a wash cloth (no shampoo) to loosen the
problem debris. His findings showed that the shampoo actually
increased irritation, and the warm compress had fantastic
results for people whose eyes had been irritated for years.
I tried both, but not regularly enough to say for sure what the
results were, though it did seem that even baby shampoo was a
little irritating. And believe me - lying down with a warm
compress on my eyes for 15 minutes did wonders for my entire
self, including my eyes. Now if I could only incorporate that
into my lifestyle I'm sure I'd add years to my life *and* my
eyes would feel better!
Your problem sounds more extreme so I'm not sure this will help,
but it might be worth a try
- Good luck!
I have developed very itchy dandruff; it seems head and shoulders
isn't strong enough. I see different products at the store
(selsun blue, coal tar) and don't really know what would work
best. I am also wondering if there are alternative treatments,
Try Nizoral, an over the counter shampoo, for about a month.
If it doesn't work, see your doctor. This was recommended for
my husband by his primary care MD and it really seems to do the
trick. After the dandruff goes away, use it in place of regular
shampoo about once a week.
I've had dandruff my entire life, and nothing has ever helped it
at all - EXCEPT tea tree oil shampoo. It is the only thing
which has ever gotten completely rid of flakes. It also feels
really wonderful and soothing if your scalp gets itchy or
irritated. I HIGHLY recommend it. You can also buy tea tree
oil and spray it directly onto your scalp if it's irritated.
Works wonders though it's a bit stinkier than the shampoo. ;)
My 12 year old son has quite a bit of dandruff. We've tried a
few different dandruff shampoos but they don't work.
I've read that Listerine rinsed through the hair is good for
getting rid of dandruff. Has anyone tried this? Any other
recommendations? He wears a baseball hat a lot of the day,
washes his hair a few times per week.He has thick longish hair.
Any suggestions? Thanks.
Try Head and Shoulders Intensive formula (in the dark blue
bottle) and their conditioner (in white bottle). I have been
using this combination for about a year now once a week, using
Pert in between, and it ''cured'' my dandruff. I have become
sensitized to many shampoos, (including those with tea tree
oil, which makes me itch like crazy) so I am glad to have found
something that works.
My husband had dandruff for a very long time -- and I believe it
was due to an allergy to some substance in shampoo.
Unfortunately, I don't know what that substance is, but when we
changed shampoos, his dandruff went away completely, and hasn't
come back. I'd recommend the shampoo we now use, but
unfortunately it's been discontinued by the company that makes it,
and we'll have to hunt for another one. At any rate, you might
try to find a shampoo that has minimal coloring and fragrances.
Also, don't necessarily use shampoos that have lots of ''natural''
ingredients (e.g. citrus oils), because often these are very
irritating, and can cause reactions.
My son who is almost 7 also has tough dandruff. After trying lots
of anti-dandruff shampoos ( including prescription ones) I am also
convinced that these don't work really well. Now we use an oil
called Dabur Vatika ( it is coconut oil with lemon and a few other
herbal extracts) on his hair before shampooing and sometimes a
little bit just after shampooing . It works like a miracle it has
cured his dandruff.The product is available at Indian grocery
stores. And we use very gentle baby shampoos with the oil. The oil
freezes in winter so you will have to dip the bottle in hot water
5 minutes before use.
A year or so ago my now 13 year old had a horrible rash on his
neck, chest and back. He was very self-conscience about it and
it was very itchy. It was diagnosed as dandruff and he was
prescribed something that was not on our co-pay list and was
very expensive. The pharmasist recommended an over-the-counter
called something like Nextoral (?). It was in a dark blue
bottle in the dandruff shampoo section at Longs. It was about
$10 and worked like magic. The dandruff rash was gone in about
two weeks, washing with it every other day.
I really feel for your son, because I have had this
same embarrassing problem for the last 5 years or so (although it
mysteriously disappeared while I was pregnant and then
breastfeeding, so I have always suspected it has a hormonal
cause). I finally fessed up to my doctor about it, who
prescribed Nizoral shampoo and Elocon lotion, which helped some.
Nizoral is now available OTC. The doctor said it's probably just
chronic, and to just get used to it. Tea Tree Oil shampoo also
may help--it mitigates it in my case, but doesn't make it
completely go away. It also may be due to dry scalp, which is a
sign of dehydration (so drinking lots of water may help). It
also may be related to yeast growth (check his diet for the
balance of yeast; i.e., bread products, vinegars, etc.) I found
wearing hats made it worse (which kind of makes sense if it's
yeast related, since the dark moist environment is what yeast
will love) and other than getting pregnant again (ok, not a
solution for your son) cutting my very long hair very short
helped quite a bit.
My 13-year-old daughter and 9-year-old long-haired son have had
good luck with Nature's Gate Organics ''Tea-Tree Oil & Blue
Cypress non-medicated dandruff sahmpoo''. Not super cheap
(cheapest at Trader Joe's and Longs), but thick, so you don't
have to use much.
After years of searching for a shampoo that worked on dandruff
without wrecking my hair, a hair stylist recommended Kenra
dandruff shampoo (carried in beauty supply stores). For me it
has been fantastic--much better than tea tree shampoo, which
wasn't helpful. If other shampoos haven't worked on your son,
this might not either, but if you're desperate it's worth a try.
My 5 1/2 yr old boy has several pathes of thick scaly dandruff in his hair, it
looks almost like cradle cap. Is this something to be concerned about and what
exactly causes this? Anyone sharing the same experience would help.
My son had cradle cap until he was almost a year old. My pediatrician had
the best solution: Buy some oil (you could use olive, but we used some
cold-pressed apricot baby massage oil) and a soft toothbrush. Gently
massage the oil in with the toothbrush. This really works!
My 7 year old son had the same problem- very thick
patches of dandruff near his hairline in the front,
back of the ear and at the top of this head, that
looked like cradle cap, greasy and scaly. He also had
patches on his body. Turned out it was psoriasis, a
genetic disease that affects millions of people. The
skin cells reproduce faster than normal, causing the
buildup that looks like dandruff. You can try various
tar shampoos like Neutrogena's T-Gel, put baby oil on
it overnight and then try to comb it out. We ended up
going to a dermatologist who gave us some prescription
strength shampoo and creams. Sunlight is good for it
so keep child's hair short (also easier to manage
combing and using creams in the hair.
It is episodic for my son and has gone away this
summer. It can be debilitating for some people if it
spreads all over the body, particularly if it gets on
the hands and soles of the feet. the main problem for
my son was that it was a bit unsightly, especially in
places where it could be seen by others. This is more
of a problem when the child is a teenager and looks
are so important.
this page was last updated: Oct 15, 2006
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network