Brown Pigmentation of Eyelids

A yellowish to brown color of your skin on the eyelids and other body areas may be perfectly normal for you. A way to help distinguish normal from abnormal is to look at both eyelids carefully in good light. If the discoloration is the same on both eyelids, not patchy or bumpy and covers the same area, it is probably benign. Check with your doctor who can do this comparison with ideal lighting and also ask about your general health. Be sure to bring a list of all medications and supplements you take.

General Causes

Your doctor or dermatologist can help determine if there is a reason for the dark skin that requires treatment. Darkening of the skin of the eyelids may occur with the use of products that increase eyelash growth. Other factors that mitigate discoloration of the eyelids include sun exposure, pregnancy and hormone use. The skin of the eyelids is the thinnest skin on the body -- about 5 mm thick -- and lacks the stratum lucidum layer of skin that is found in thicker areas.

Natural Color

Regardless of your basic skin color, there are areas that are naturally lighter or darker . Generally, the forearms, palms of hands and soles of feet are lighter, where eyelids, genital areas and armpits may be darker. The slight darkening of skin in these areas are natural changes that occur gradually as you reach and pass puberty. Any sudden or drastic change in skin color may be due to a medical condition and requires investigation.

Medical Indicators

The darkening of skin is called hyperpigmentation, and can occur on the eyelids due to illness, such as after the rash from lupus resolves. Inflammation or infection of the eyelid can also cause darkening after it heals, but only on the affected side. The "Indian Journal of Dermatology" also reports hyperpigmentation of the eyelids from heavy metal poisoning. This includes the colloidal silver now in popular use as well as lead, mercury and others.

Genetic Causes

Variations in skin color on your eyelids and elsewhere may be genetic in origin. Look at your parents' and siblings' eyelids and you may see a very similar color. There is a genetic component both to skin coloration and color distribution.


To prevent unnatural changes that may be irreversible, the eyelid skin should be protected from sun and harsh chemicals. New cosmetic products can be tested on the forearm or other area before use on the eyelid. This reduces the chance for the inflammation that can later cause darkening. Use all prescription eye area products exactly as instructed and read the information sheet about possible side effects.

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