What Is Eyebrow Dandruff?

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Eyebrow dandruff is flaky skin that sheds from the eyebrows. There are several possible causes of eyebrow dandruff, one of the most common ones being seborrheic dermatitis. This form of eczema typically affects the scalp and other oily areas of the body.

Along with eyebrow dandruff, there can be a rash, itchiness, greasy scales, or inflammation in the eyebrow area. Depending on the cause, treatment may involve over-the-counter or prescription medications.

This article focuses on the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and prognosis of eyebrow dandruff.

eyebrow dandruff

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Symptoms of Eyebrow Dandruff

The symptoms of eyebrow dandruff may include:

  • Light, white to yellowish flakes of skin that shed
  • Mild erythema (redness) and irritated patches of skin on the eyebrows
  • Mild itching (or in some cases, there is no itching)
  • A rash in some types of eyebrow dandruff (such as when contact dermatitis is the underlying cause)
  • A scaly appearance of the eyebrows
  • An increased amount of sebum (oil) in the eyebrows

Note, when eyebrow dandruff is caused by environmental factors—such as cold weather or harsh skin products—the symptoms do not include inflammation. But when seborrheic dermatitis or contact dermatitis (an allergic reaction) are the underlying cause of eyebrow dandruff, inflammation is a cardinal symptom.

Additionally, seborrheic dermatitis can cause a similar rash to form on other parts of the body where there are many oil glands, such as the back of the neck, the upper chest, and the face, eyebrows included. These rashes may come and go, sometimes over the course of years.


Just like scalp dandruff, exactly how eyebrow dandruff forms is not well understood. It is thought to be linked with an increase in oil from the sebaceous glands, which reside in the hair follicles.

As the oil production increases, so does Malassezia yeast, a type of yeast that naturally resides on the skin. This feeds off sebaceous oil and can wreak havoc with the skin, causing irritation and even an allergic reaction that can lead to inflammation.

Seborrheic dermatitis is the most common cause of eyebrow dandruff, but there are several other conditions can also result in it, including:

  • Eczema, a common skin condition that causes itchy, red, and flaky patches of skin, most often seen in children
  • Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick patches of itchy, red, and irritated skin
  • Contact dermatitis, in which the skin develops a red and flaky skin rash after coming in contact with an allergen, such as an irritating ingredient in a skincare product
  • Dry skin that flakes off due to lack of moisturizing or changing weather


Eyebrow dandruff can often be diagnosed during a physical examination. Your healthcare provider will evaluate the appearance of your eyebrow skin and gather information about your current symptoms.

It’s unusual to require a lab test to diagnose eyebrow dandruff. In some instances, however, your healthcare provider may perform a skin biopsy if your eyebrow dandruff is not getting better with treatment.

Eyebrow Dandruff Treatment

Once your healthcare provider determines the cause of your eyebrow dandruff, they will be able to recommend treatment options.

Over-the-Counter Medication

When eyebrow dandruff is mild to moderate, it can usually be treated at home, using an over-the-counter type of medicated dandruff shampoo. These shampoos contain medication—such as zinc pyrithione—which helps loosen dandruff, making it easier to remove.

You can use dandruff shampoo on your eyebrows by treating it like a face wash. Work the lather up in your hands, then rub it into the affected area and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing. Be sure not to get medicated shampoo in your eyes, though, as it can cause irritation.

Note, there are many types of dandruff shampoos, each with different active ingredients. If one type of shampoo doesn’t work for you, try a different one, including those that have:

  • Ketoconazole
  • Selenium sulfide
  • Tar
  • Salicylic acid
  • Zinc pyrithione

If your symptoms include redness, irritation, and itchiness, over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream may help reduce these symptoms.

Prescription Medication

If eyebrow dandruff symptoms are severe, your healthcare provider may order:

  • A prescription-strength shampoo, such as ketoconazole or selenium sulfide
  • A topical cream (for use on the skin), such as prescription-strength antifungal or corticosteroid cream

These preparations are essentially the same as the over-the-counter versions, but they have a higher concentration of medication.


Tips for preventing eyebrow dandruff flare-ups include:

  • Moisturize the skin with a mild moisturizer that does not contain harsh chemicals or ingredients that dry the skin.
  • Use a mild shampoo, free of sulfates and other harsh additives (for the hair regularly, and eyebrows when you have very mild symptoms).
  • Wash the face with warm, not hot water.
  • Avoid extreme outdoor temperatures.
  • Use a humidifier in the winter to combat dry air from central heating systems.
  • Use sunscreen to protect the face (including the eyebrows).
  • Take note of allergens or irritants, and avoid them whenever possible.
  • Avoid scratching or picking at the eyebrows.


Dandruff—as well as the skin conditions that cause eyebrow dandruff—are chronic conditions. Treatment may help alleviate the symptoms, but it won’t cure the condition.

Eyebrow dandruff involves periods of flare-ups and remissions (when there are no symptoms). Flare-ups occur most commonly during the winter months or when a person experiences stress.

A Word From Verywell

If you have tried at-home treatments and your symptoms do not improve, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider. Your provider should be able to diagnose the cause of your eyebrow dandruff simply by examining your skin. Fortunately, treatment for eyebrow dandruff is typically effective. And while eyebrow dandruff does commonly recur, following your treatment plan and using at-home remedies can go a long way to prevent eyebrow dandruff flare-ups.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Borda L, Wikramanayake T. Seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff: a comprehensive review. J Clin Investig Dermatol. 2015;3(2). doi:10.13188/2373-1044.1000019

  2. Kids Health. Dandruff.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Seborrheic dermatitis.

By Sherry Christiansen
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer's research.