Eyelid dermatitis treatment

I wanted to discuss eyelid dermatitis treatment today as this has been a problem I have been dealing with, it seems to comes at the most inopportune times. I made a salve that has helped hydrate the skin. Let’s take a look at eyelid dermatitis.

What is eyelid dermatitis?

Eyelid dermatitis is an inflammation of the eyelid skin. The eyelids can become red, inflamed, flaky and swollen.

People may use the term dermatitis but it is a term that includes many different types of eyelid skin irritation.


Atopic dermatitis

Is a skin irritation that has an immune component. It may be associated with asthma and hay fever, this type of dermatitis can be hereditary.  This type of dermatitis is seen  in babies. The children may outgrow it but tend to have drier skin as adults. New treatments like JAK inhibitors and targeted therapy have been promising.

Allergic contact dermatitis

This type of dermatitis occurs when there is an allergic reaction.  We see this with pollen as well as ingredients such as lanolin or even exposure to certain metals such as nickel. Just about any ingredient can cause an allergy even natural ones. Preservatives and fragrances can cause irritation.

Irritant contact dermatitis

This type of dermatitis occurs when there is direct contact and the skin is damaged. Acids can do this as well as detergents. Sometimes the irritation is right away other times it may be a gradual build up which results in puffy irritated eyes.

Seborrheic dermatitis

This type of skin irritation can cause the skin to flake and flare ups can come and go. The exact cause is unknown but it may be related to fungus.

Allergic and irritant dermatitis are the most common types of dermatitis. Both irritant and allergic reactions can occur at the same time. Having one type of eyelid dermatitis may increase the risk of other types developing because the skin barrier has been disrupted.

Blepharitis is typically caused by the clogging of glands that produce tears when you blink. The obstruction of those meibomian glands  results in the inflammation of the eyelid. Many patients with blepharitis will have crusting of their eyelids and dandruff appearing flakes on the eyelashes. Blepharitis can be associated with rosacea. It is interesting to note that some cases of blepharitis are caused by tiny mites that lead to skin irritation.

There are several risk factors for developing eyelid dermatitis.

  • Genetics play a role, you are more likely to have dermatitis if it runs in your family.
  • Hygiene– It is important to cleanse the skin so that debris does not build up.
  • Certain occupational exposures will increase your risk of dermatitis such as construction worker as well as those who deal with chemicals.
  • Household cleansers can have harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin.
  • Certain medications can irritate the skin.
  • Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions will increase the risk of dermatitis such as asthma and psoriasis.
  • Cold weather can irritate the skin.
  • Hot showers

Contact eyelid dermatitis treatment

Treatment is directed at the acute flare up as well as prescribing measures to help prevent future flare ups.

Patient education is important with this eyelid dermatitis,

Avoid touching and rubbing the eye area. Remember your fingers can carry all sorts of irritants and potential allergens to your eyelid skin.

Use a gentle cleanser that does not lather and dry the skin. I sell an oil cleanser that can be used as part of an oil cleansing method. The extra hydration can help with dry skin.

Avoid skin care creams and lotions that have fragrance in them. Fragrance is usually made up of several different ingredients increasing the risk of allergy. Preservatives such as parabens can also cause skin irritation.

Many lotions have emollients added to them to help soften the skin. Some of them can cause skin reaction such as lanolin, coconut butter, cocoa butter, isopropyl palmitate, isostearyl isosterate, and myristyl lactate. You need to read the ingredients.

Retinols, Vitamin C and hydroxy acids can help improve skin’s appearance but for some people these ingredients are irritating.

Sulphates are found in a lot of washes and shampoo which is another ingredient that can cause irritation. Try not to let the product run down over your face, this will increase the risk of skin irritation.

I am not a big fan of baby shampoo. It still lathers and can dry skin that is already irritated.

Just because an ingredient is natural does not mean it is irritation free. Natural products such as essential oils and botanical extracts can also cause irritation.

Avoid makeup until irritation improves.

Wear glasses rather than contacts to see if that helps settle down the irritation.

If and when the eyelid  dermatitis gets better you can reintroduce products one at a time.

If the eyelid irritation is secondary to allergies, than antihistamines can help decrease itchy watery eye as they help reduce the allergic reaction.

Warm eye compress. Use a clean warm soak for 5 minutes, this will help soften crusty dry skin and remove oily debris that can help clear the glands. Cold compresses can help but an irritated eye may be too sensitive for ice.

Use occlusive skin ingredients that can help increase skin’s hydration and maintain the skin’s barrier. Choose products that are mild and do not have harsh chemicals that can irritate the eyes. Oils have the benefit of hydrating the skin without the need for preservatives because there is no water mixed  in. Eye balms are a great way to protect the eyelid skin, just ensure you are not getting water into the container if there is no preservative.

Antibacterial wipes can help improve blepharitis, they can also be used as as eyelid dermatitis treatment. The ingredients may include tea tree oil, macadamia nut and or hydro chloroacetic acid. Consider looking at the  ingredients and knowing what you are putting on your skin.

An over the counter steroid cream may help decrease irritation. You do not want to be on steroids long term as they will cause the skin to thin out. Look for steroid creams that are designed for the eye area. I prefer to stick with good hygiene, warm soaks and soothing skin salves. Organic Manuka Honey Eczema Cream, Psoriasis, Rosacea, Dermatitis and Rashes, Gentle for Babies & Children, Provides Instant & Lasting Relief for Severely Dry, Cracked, Itchy, Red & Irritated Skin

If an over the counter strength  steroid cream is not working a physician can prescribe a stronger steroid. Again, they should only be used for short periods of time.

Immune modulators can be used if steroids are not working. They have been shown to be effective in treating inflammatory disorders. They can be applied as cream or taken orally. It should be used with caution, as it may suppress immune function.

Your doctor can also perform skin testing to help find the culprit if an allergic cause is expected.

Eyelid Dermatitis Treatment -Prevention

The best treatment is prevention

Identify and avoid irritants and allergens and don’t touch your eye area. You may need the help of a physician to help identify what the allergy or irritant  is.

Wash your hands and try not to touch the eyes.

Take antihistamines if you have seasonal allergies that can irritate the eyes. Avoid potential foods that you are allergic to. Take them away and add them back into your diet one at a time. Some food allergies include soy, eggs and peanuts.

Ensure that your skin is moisturized. Skin moisturize helps add the skin battier and keep irritants out. Place the moisturizer on after showering or washing your face when the skin is still moist. Pat dry the skin ever rub it.

Consider using hypoallergenic detergents. Our bed sheets and clothes can be a source of irritation.

Avoid hot showers as they can dry out the skin. Avoid scrubbing your skin with wash clothes that can cause skin irritation.

Limit times in severe weather conditions such as the wind or extreme cold weather.

Look at the ingredients in products you are placing on your skin.

As mentioned above try to use sulphate free products that are hypoallergenic and do not contain fragrances.

Diet. Eating enough fat is important for our diet. Omega 3 fatty acids can help lubricate the skin. Omega 3 is found in fish, egg yolks as well as walnuts.

eyelid dermatitis treatment

If you are not a fish eater then consider an omega 3 fatty acid supplement NOW Omega-3 1000mg, 200 Softgels

Avoid too much screen time

Try lightening the  computer screen as well as the bright light as your eyes may be sensitive to the bright light. We actually blink less when staring at a screen, this can  increase eye dryness.

Reduce stress levels, stress can worsen dermatitis. Deep breathing, meditation has been shown to help reduce stress levels.

Eyelid dermatitis treatment home remedies

There are a number of remedies right in your kitchen. Olive oil can help lubricate the skin. it can also be used along with a warm wash cloth as a soak.

Milk, yogurt  and honey have conditioning properties. Honey should be pasteurized to help prevent infections if it is going to placed on dry skin.

Aloe vera directly from the plant can help hydrate the skin.

If your dermatitis is not improving please seek out medical attention.

Eyelid dermatitis treatment is important to help avoid complications of dermatitis

Complications include,

  • Skin infections as the skin barrier has been disrupted. Scratching or rubbing the eyes can make the skin vulnerable to infections.
  • Eye infections. Bacteria can get into the eye from repeatedly touching or rubbing the region, causing infections.
  • Hyperpigmentation or darkening  of the eyelid skin from constant irritation
  • Thickening of the skin Chronic scratching can cause the skin to become discolored and leathery.
  • Cataracts. There is a higher incidence of cataracts in patients who have atopic dermatitis
  • Corneal abrasion rubbing  the eyes can lead to irritation of the outer covering of the eye.
  • Spontaneous retinal detachment. This condition is more common in patients with atopic dermatitis than in the general population.

Do you have a suggestions for eyelid dermatitis treatment?

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