Yes, eyebrow dandruff is absolutely a thing. You may have noticed some dry, flakey, almost scaly skin around your brows. More often than not, people assume this is eczema or an allergic reaction to a skincare product they used. But, it may actually just be a common case of brow dandruff.
We chatted with board-certified dermatologists Dr. Jennifer MacGregor and Dr. Jenny Liu to get more insight into the skin condition. They shared what eyebrow dandruff actually is, what causes it, and how to treat it.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about brow dandruff!
What is eyebrow dandruff?
Eyebrow dandruff is exactly what it sounds like—dry, flakey skin on or around the brows. Dr. MacGregor explains that it’s “usually caused by seborrheic dermatitis. People typically experience red or pink inflamed skin and scaly patches.” While the skin tends to look irritated, Dr. MacGregor shares sometimes the brows can be oily and itchy with flakes that are white and yellowish.
Dr. Liu notes that another cause is “yeast that lives in our skin (pityrosporum) that can trigger inflammation hence, redness, flaking, scaling” and that it’s similar to scalp dandruff. Even though the two types of dandruff share similarities, Dr. MacGregor points out that many confuse brow dandruff with other skin conditions, “like allergy to a product, infection, eczema.”
What causes dandruff on the eyebrows?
Seborrheic dermatitis is one of the biggest causes of eyebrow dandruff. This skin condition is actually an oil-related cause, not a dry skin condition like people believe.
“The affected skin is typically inflamed and flakey, so people assume it’s dry like that of dry skin eczema,” Dr. MacGregor shares. “People often use more oily products hoping to soothe the dry, flakey, itchy areas, but seborrheic dermatitis is actually an oily skin condition associated with overgrowth of our skin’s natural yeast (Malassezia).”
How should it be treated?
Thankfully, it isn’t all too difficult to treat this condition. Dr. MacGregor offers a thorough guide on how to deal with eyebrow dandruff. She first stresses the importance of treating the yeast imbalance with topicals, then discusses using particular skincare products.
“Reducing the yeast population with zinc pyrithione and other topicals like nizoral and selenium sulfide seems to help reduce the inflammation,” she says. “The sebum (natural oil) produced by the skin of people with seborrheic dermatitis also usually has elevated oleic acid (a free fatty acid found in sebum and oils used in skincare). I always instruct my patients who have seborrheic dermatitis (also acne, eczema, etc.) to seek skincare with high linoleic acid content (like sunflower/safflower oils found in many eczema or baby moisturizers) to correctly balance the skins fatty acid content and help reduce inflammation.”
What are the best products to use?
As far as products go, Dr. MacGregor highlights how over-the-counter options are always a great place to start.
“Zinc pyrithione (found in many shampoos marketed for dandruff) works really well if you leave it on for five minutes about three times a week,” she notes. “Niroral shampoo or selenium sulfide shampoos are other fantastic over-the-counter (OTC) remedies. If it resists OTC options, there are stronger prescriptions that can help.”
Additionally, she stresses the importance of updating your skincare routine and the products you use.
“Limit general skincare to daily gentle hydrating cleansers,” Dr. MacGregor says. She notes to “use moisturizers marketed to babies/kids with eczema like Mustella and Vanicream.” And don’t forget to “apply broad spectrum mineral (zinc/titanium) sunscreen daily.”
Dr. Liu mentions the condition can be treated with “anti-dandruff products, such as zinc, selenium sulfide, prescription anti-fungal, and topical steroids” you can find in your local drugstore or be prescribed by your dermatologist. Her favorite products include “Head & Shoulders, Selsun Blue, and Neutrogena T Gel or T Sal.”