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Does Rubbing Your Eyes Cause Wrinkles?

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A young woman standing outside and rubbing her eyes with both hands, making a face as if in pain

The quest for eternal youth and flawless skin has led to a plethora of beauty myths and misconceptions. One such belief is the idea that rubbing your eyes can lead to wrinkles. You may have heard stories from well-meaning relatives or skin care fanatics warning you to refrain from this seemingly innocent habit. But is there any scientific truth to this claim, or is it just another old wives’ tale?

The truth is that rubbing your eyes is unlikely to directly cause wrinkles; however, it can contribute to dryness and irritation and may exaggerate the appearance of skin imperfections. 

What Causes Wrinkles?

First and foremost, it’s imperative to understand how wrinkles form. One of the primary culprits behind wrinkles is a loss of elasticity in the skin. As we age, our skin naturally becomes less elastic, beginning around our 20s and continuing at a slow pace for the rest of our lives. However, there are external factors that can expedite this process, such as smoking, exposure to sunlight, and, yes, even rubbing our eyes. 

The skin around our eyes is much thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of the face, making it particularly susceptible to the signs of aging. It contains fewer oil glands and less collagen, the protein responsible for skin’s elasticity and firmness. These factors contribute to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet around the eyes over time.

There are several types of wrinkles that you may develop over time: 

  • Dynamic wrinkles: These are wrinkles that appear while we move the muscles in our face. These wrinkles can appear due to squinting, frowning, and other facial movements. 
  • Static wrinkles: These are wrinkles that form due to a loss of elasticity in the skin over time.

While dynamic wrinkles can be prevented by avoiding environmental factors and refraining from excessive eye rubbing, static wrinkles often require more comprehensive treatment options, such as dermal fillers or chemical peels. 

Close-up of a senior woman holding her hands over the bridge of her nose with her eyes closed and her eyeglasses in her right hand

Does Rubbing Your Eyes Cause Wrinkles?

The notion that rubbing your eyes causes wrinkles likely stems from the idea that repetitive motions on the delicate skin around your eyes could lead to wear and tear over time. 

It’s not uncommon for people to rub their eyes when they’re tired, experiencing allergies, or even just out of habit. However, experts argue that the act of rubbing itself is not the primary cause of wrinkles.

Is Rubbing Your Eyes Bad for Your Skin? 

While rubbing your eyes may not be the main wrinkle-causing culprit, the act can contribute to the irritation and inflammation of sensitive skin. Persistent or aggressive eye rubbing may cause a range of adverse effects, such as: 

  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

There’s a range of reasons why you might rub your eyes, including dry eyes, allergies, or an eye infection. If eye rubbing has become a persistent habit, it’s important to consult with your eye care provider to identify and treat the underlying cause to protect your eyes and the sensitive surrounding skin. 

Preventing Wrinkles

At the end of the day, wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to prevent or treat wrinkles in an effort to retain a more youthful appearance. 

How to Reduce the Risk of Wrinkles

There are several lifestyle and environmental factors that may contribute to premature wrinkles. To promote healthy aging and protect your skin, you can adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes:

  • Protecting your skin from the sun: This includes using broad spectrum SPF 30 (or higher) and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses every time you go outside. 
  • Eating healthy and exercising: A healthy, well-balanced diet and regular exercise are great for promoting overall health, and that includes skin health. 
  • Prioritizing skin care: A skin care routine that includes gentle cleansing and a daily moisturizer can help keep your skin looking healthy and youthful. 
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking can speed up your skin’s aging process and cause wrinkles. 

Treating Wrinkles with IPL Therapy 

Your local drugstore is likely full of products that tout wrinkle-erasing abilities; however, you might be surprised to learn that you may find effective wrinkle treatment at your eye doctor’s office

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy has gained significant popularity in recent years as a noninvasive and effective method for reducing the signs of aging. IPL is a dermatological procedure that uses high-intensity light to target specific areas of the skin affected by wrinkles. 

During the treatment, pulses of light are emitted onto the skin, stimulating collagen production and improving overall skin tone and texture. IPL is particularly effective in reducing fine lines, age spots, and sun damage. IPL may also be used as an effective treatment for dry eye caused by meibomian gland dysfunction

Benefits of IPL Treatment

IPL therapy offers several unique benefits for both your skin and eye health, including:

  • Reduction of wrinkles and fine lines: IPL stimulates collagen production, which helps to plump up the skin and minimize the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Improved skin texture: IPL targets and eliminates damaged skin cells, promoting a smoother and more youthful complexion.
  • Minimized pigmentation issues: IPL can fade age spots, sun spots, and other hyperpigmentation concerns, resulting in a more even skin tone.
  • Noninvasive with minimal downtime: Unlike more invasive cosmetic procedures, IPL treatment requires no incisions or sutures, allowing for a quicker recovery period.

What to Expect During IPL Treatment

IPL is a simple treatment that may be available at your local eye doctor’s office. The procedure usually includes:

  • Consultation: Prior to undergoing IPL treatment, you will have a consultation with a qualified technician who can assess your skin type, specific concerns, and determine if IPL is the right option for you.
  • Preparing for the procedure: Your skin should be clean and free of any makeup or creams. You may also be advised to avoid direct sun exposure for a certain period before the treatment.
  • The treatment session: During the procedure, a handheld device will be used to deliver short bursts of light onto your skin. You might experience a mild sensation similar to being snapped with a rubber band.
  • Recovery and aftercare: Following IPL treatment, it’s important to protect your skin from excessive sun exposure, apply moisturizer regularly, and follow any specific post-treatment instructions from your provider.

Eye Wellness & Aesthetics at Optical Illusions

At Optical Illusions, we are proud to offer a wide range of specialty eye care services, including eye wellness and aesthetic treatments. Contact our team to schedule your appointment at 1 of our 4 conveniently located offices.

Written by Dr. Will To

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