What causes itchy eyelashes?

Medically reviewed by Tina Patel, Contact Lens Optician at Feel Good Contacts.

The cause of itching on your eyelashes and eyelid margins will determine the treatment and while some may require a doctor’s supervision, other treatments can be carried out at home. If you’re experiencing itching at the base of the eyelashes or the edges of the eyelid, it’s best not to scratch as this can lead to an infection or irritate the symptoms further.

Causes of itchy eyelashes

Potential causes of itchy eyelashes and eyelid margins include the following:

  • Allergies - from ingredients in products such as makeup, shampoo, contact lens solutions and medications for glaucoma
  • Allergic conjunctivitis - from seasonal allergens including pollen, dust, mould and even eyelash extensions
  • Blepharitis: anterior and posterior- anterior blepharitis is a chronic condition caused by bacterial infections, eyelash mites or lice, allergies and dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows (seborrheic dermatitis). Posterior blepharitis is caused by clogged oil glands.
  • Stye - caused by an infection in the eyelash follicle
  • Phthiriasis palpebrarum - a rare condition caused by lice or mite infestation, typically found in the pubic region (demodex mites)
  • Conjunctivitis- also known as pinkeye and caused by a viral or bacterial infection

Symptoms of itchy eyelashes

what causes itchy eyelashes

You may feel itchy just along the lash line; however, it is also possible for it to extend to the whole eye area. Symptoms of itchy eyelashes include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Eye discharge
  • Eye pain
  • Burning sensation in or around the eye area
  • Gritty feeling
  • Flaking skin
  • Red skin on and around the eye
  • Swelling
  • Greasy skin on the eyelids

Home treatments for itchy eyelids

There are a variety of home treatments for itchy eyelids. These include:

  • Antihistamines - allergy eye drops work to reduce the amount of histamine in the eye and can be combined with an oral antihistamine
  • Cleansing - good eyelid hygiene is a must. The Blephaclean Eye Wipes are an effective, preservative-free solution to maintaining daily eyelid hygiene as are the Optase Tea Tree Oil Lid Wipes
  • Moisturising – an unscented moisturiser can be used to soothe itchy skin on the eyelid
  • Warm or cold compresses such as The Eye Doctor Stye Relief Compress - this is especially great for dry eye disease, blepharitis and chalazion
  • Artificial Tears such as our Thealoz Duo Eye Drops - these can relieve itching caused by dry eye syndrome

How to prevent itchy eyelashes

Several strategies can be used to prevent itchy eyelashes:

  • Change bedding and towels regularly
  • Throw away eye makeup and products older than 6 months
  • Avoid sharing makeup
  • Maintain good hygiene of the eye area and lid margins
  • Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes
  • Identify and eliminate products that may be causing itchy eyelashes
  • If you wear contact lenses, give your eyes a break every so often and switch to wearing glasses
  • If wearing glasses isn’t an option for you, consider daily contact lenses
  • If you wear monthly contact lenses, make sure you follow a thorough lens care routine, taking the time to clean and soak your lenses in contact lens solution overnight

If home treatments aren’t successful in getting rid of itchy eyelashes or if the itching returns, you should see your doctor. You should also see your doctor if the itching is accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

Medical treatments

Medical treatment options will depend on the cause of the itchy eyelashes and your doctor will diagnose your symptoms before providing treatment.

They may look at allergens in your everyday products or environment and you may even be given a patch test for allergic substances. This test introduces various allergens to your skin to see which ones you react to.

Your doctor may perform a swab test of your eyelid if they suspect blepharitis. The swab will then be analysed in a laboratory for allergens and bacteria.

If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotic eye drops.

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