Understanding Eyelid Eczema: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

The eyelids are particularly vulnerable to eczema due to the thin and sensitive skin around the eyes. Eyelid dermatitis, also known as eyelid eczema, periocular dermatitis, or periorbital dermatitis, is a type of contact dermatitis. It is caused by contact of the eyelids with something that you are allergic to or that irritates you. This can lead to redness, scaling, and swelling of the eyelids.

Common symptoms include stinging, burning, and itching. Eczema can affect any area of the skin, including the eyelids and around the eyes. Eyelid eczema is common in adults with eczema elsewhere. Seborrheic dermatitis of the eyelids tends to affect only the margins of the eyelids and is most often seen in adults.

The itchy, inflamed, dry and flaking skin of eyelid eczema is particularly problematic for all ages due to the thin and sensitive nature of this area. Dermatitis on the eyelids causes inflammation of the thin, tender skin around the eyes. The eyelids become irritated, swollen, dry and red. It may affect one or both eyes. Eyelid dermatitis is an irritation of the eyelid skin due to inflammation.

This can have several causes, from contact with an irritant to the same skin condition that causes dandruff. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when the skin repeatedly comes into contact with a mild irritant such as makeup, soap, or laundry detergent for an extended period of time. You may not be allergic to the substance but it still causes symptoms. For some people, the same things that cause atopic contact dermatitis also cause irritant contact dermatitis. Atopic contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance and you have an allergic reaction that causes an eczema rash. People with a history of atopic eczema, asthma, and hay fever (“atopy”) are more likely to suffer from irritating contact dermatitis than people without this history. To treat any form of eczema, experts often recommend topical corticosteroids to fight inflammation according to the Mayo Clinic.

However, these may be too strong for the delicate skin of the eyelids. In general, only mild topical steroids (0.5 — 1% hydrocortisone) are recommended for eyelid eczema. Eyelid eczema is treated with mild topical emollients and steroids prescribed by your doctor or other health care professional. If your doctor decides that a corticosteroid cream is the best treatment for your case of eczema, he or she will likely only prescribe it for a short period of time because it can cause thinning of the eyelids and skin around the eyes. In addition to medical treatments for eyelid eczema, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of flare-ups. It can be tempting to scratch the itchy skin that occurs with eczema, especially when it is on the eyelids.

To avoid this urge, try using cold compresses or taking an antihistamine. It is also important to avoid products that may irritate your skin further. In fact, essential oils such as tea tree oil or lavender oil and other products marketed as natural can stimulate eyelid eczema if they contain something your skin reacts to. If your eyelids are irritated due to a chronic condition such as eczema, you may have rashes from time to time. See the National Eczema Society fact sheet on household irritants and eczema for practical tips and advice on how to reduce exposure to common household irritants. For those suffering from eyelid eczema specifically, there are treatments available that can help reduce inflammation and itching. Mild topical emollients and steroids prescribed by your doctor or other health care professional are often recommended for treatment.

If you're not sure where to start, talk to your doctor for help so that together you can end your eczema.

Riya Hutchings
Riya Hutchings

On a quest to combat Contact Dermatitis!