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Eczema Around the Eyes: What to Know

Eczema around the eyes presents as dryness, itching, and soreness around the eyelids. It can occur in response to an irritant or allergen, such as makeup or dampness. Other triggers, such as stress, also can cause eczema around the eyes.Doctors may also use the terms “eyelid eczema” or “eyelid dermatitis” to describe eczema involving the eyelids.

Eczema is a common inflammatory skin condition that causes rashes and irritation. It can occur in any area of the body, including the area around the eyes.

The thin and sensitive skin of the eyelids can be sensitive to irritants and allergens. This means that the skin around the eyes may be more likely to develop eczema than other skin areas.

This article explains the causes, symptoms, treatment, and self-care for eczema around the eyes.

Types of eczema

Different types of eczema may cause symptoms around the eyes, including:

  • Atopic dermatitis: One of the most common forms of eczema, atopic dermatitis causes dryness, inflammation, and itching. It is common in children, but can affect people at any age.
  • Contact dermatitis: Contact with an irritant or allergen causes eczema symptoms to develop.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: Seborrheic dermatitis is eczema in skin areas with many sebaceous, or oil, glands. This can include the face, scalp, and body folds. Seborrheic dermatitis that causes eyelid dermatitis often causes blepharitis, inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis may be more common in adults.

Symptoms

Eczema symptoms may affect the upper and/or lower eyelids on one or both eyes. The irritation may also affect the surrounding areas, such as the corners of the eyes or the entire eye socket area. People with eczema around the eyes often experience eczema on other skin areas.

Eczema symptoms may flare up occasionally and then linger or improve.

Symptoms of eczema around the eyes include:

  • dry skin
  • itchiness or soreness
  • broken or cracked skin
  • scaly or flaky skin
  • deeper skin lines
  • swelling 
  • discoloration, such as darkening or redness around the eyes
  • thickened skin
  • blistering 
  • irritated, sore, or painful eyes, especially if you have been rubbing your eyes or have an infection of the skin or eyes

Eczema on the eyelids can cause other conditions that lead to further eye irritation. These conditions include blepharitis, infection, and conjunctivitis, or pink eye.

Other symptoms of eye infection or irritation can include:

  • watery eyes
  • green, yellow, or bloody discharge from the eyes that may crust
  • a feeling of grittiness in the eyes
  • red eyes
  • tired, painful, or sore eyes
  • sensitivity to light
  • vision problems, such as blurry vision

Learn more about skin infections and sore eyes, including symptoms and when to contact a doctor.

Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of skin irritation or infection. Also, contact a doctor or ophthalmologist promptly if you believe the irritation is affecting your eyeballs.

Causes 

The exact cause of eczema is unknown. However, experts believe genetic and environmental factors that cause the skin to lose moisture can cause eczema.

Common triggers that may cause eczema symptoms to develop or worsen include:

  • fragrances, essential oils, alcohol, and other ingredients in skin care products
  • hair dyes
  • soaps and detergents, such as shower gel or laundry detergents
  • nickel and gold
  • dampness or sweating
  • certain materials, such as wool
  • stress
  • hormonal changes
  • skin infections
  • cold or dry weather
  • allergens such as certain foods, pollen, and mold
  • other environmental irritants, such as smoke or air pollution

Other triggers likely to affect the eyes include:

  • cosmetic products, such as eye creams, makeup, and cleansers
  • false eyelashes and eyelash adhesives
  • eyelash curlers, tweezers, and other tools containing nickel or gold
  • eye drops
  • contact lens solution 
  • rubber goggles and glasses frames

Triggers may vary per person. What provokes eczema in one person may not affect another.

Experiencing eczema elsewhere on the body may make you more likely to experience eczema around the eyes.

Diagnosis 

Your doctor will examine your eyes and skin and take a full medical history. They may also perform allergy or patch testing for allergic triggers.

For allergy testing, a clinician exposes you to a small amount of a suspected allergen or irritant to see how your body reacts to it.

Treatment options

Treatment options for eyelid dermatitis can include:

  • Fragrance-free emollients, occlusives, or humectants: These are over-the-counter (OTC) ointments that reduce dryness.
  • Mild topical steroids: Steroids for eczema, such as hydrocortisone (Ala-Cort, Dermasorb, Pandel), can help reduce inflammation and stop itching.
  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs): These may reduce immune overactivity and eczema flare-ups.Examples are pimecrolimus (Elidel) and tacrolimus (Protopic).
  • Eye drops or artificial tear drops: These moisturize the eyes to reduce dry eye discomfort.
  • Antibiotic eye drops, ointments, or tablets: Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection of the eye or skin.

Because the eyelids are thin and sensitive, doctors may first recommend mild treatments for eczema around the eyes. This includes OTC ointments. Your doctor can then adjust treatment if your symptoms continue.

Your doctor may also recommend regular checkups or monitoring to help spot signs of infection.

Self-care and management 

Self-care can be a key part of treatment for eczema around the eyes. Self-care approaches can help alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of flare-ups and complications such as infection.

Approaches to help care for eczema include:

  • washing your hands before touching the affected areas
  • keeping a record of symptoms, activities, and routines to help identify and avoid triggers
  • asking your doctor or a pharmacist about ingredients to avoid and what products may help
  • gently massaging the eyelid with a warm, damp cloth to unblock oil glands
  • washing the eyelids with a cream cleanser labeled for sensitive skin after sweating or exposure to irritants
  • applying a moisturizing ointment as soon as possible after washing the skin
  • wearing protective wraparound glasses when exposed to irritating weather, dust, or other irritants
  • protecting your skin from the sun by:
    • staying in the shade
    • wearing protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses
    • applying sunscreen

Also avoid:

  • rubbing or scratching the skin or eyes
  • touching the affected areas unnecessarily
  • wearing contact lenses until eyeball irritation goes away
  • wearing eye makeup or irritating skin care, such as some creams for mature skin
  • using products that contain irritating ingredients, such as fragrances and alcohol

Summary

Eczema around the eyes can cause dryness, irritation, and itching. Exposure to irritants or allergens, such as cosmetics, sweat, and pollen may cause eczema.

Treatment for eczema around the eyes includes hydrating ointments, topical steroids, and eye drops. Keeping the skin clean and hydrated, and avoiding triggers can also help alleviate symptoms.

Contact your doctor for symptoms of eczema around the eyes. Also contact a doctor promptly for symptoms of infection or eye irritation, such as vision problems, discharge from the eyes, and eye pain.


https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/eczema/eczema-around-the-eyes

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