Eyelid Dermatitis

If your eyelids always feel itchy, irritated, or swollen, it may be because of eyelid dermatitis. Atopic (allergic) contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis are the two types of a very common condition called eyelid dermatitis.


Symptoms may be chronic or sudden and occasionally occur in one or both eyes. Symptoms may involve:

  • swelling
  • red rash or scaly skin
  • itching
  • irritated skin
  • pain or burning sensation
  • thickened, creased skin


The skin on the eyelids is thin and contains thousands of blood vessels and a little fat. Its composition makes the eyelid vulnerable to allergic reactions and irritation.

For people with atopic contact dermatitis, symptoms may be caused by an allergy. Irritant contact dermatitis happens when the area around the eyelids comes in contact with an irritating substance such as makeup or eye cream. The main difference between the two types is determined by the reaction of the immune system.

Eyelid Dermatitis


If you cannot determine what is causing the condition, visiting a dermatologist or an allergist is extremely helpful. To uncover potential triggers, your doctor will assess your symptoms, any past allergic reactions, and perform a few tests such as:

Patch test. Typically done on the arm or back where 25-30 potential allergens are placed in the skin covered in a hypoallergenic patch and worn for two days to examine any allergic reaction.

Intradermal allergy test. Normally done in under 30 minutes where potential allergens are injected under the surface of the skin to test for allergic reactions.

Skin prick (scratch) test. Various allergen extracts are gently inserted beneath the skin using a lancet together with histamine to verify the accuracy of the test. Histamine should cause an allergic reaction to everyone and if it doesn’t cause one in you, the test is considered invalid. Glycerin or saline is also inserted which should not cause allergic reactions. If they do, your doctor may determine that you have highly sensitive skin and are experiencing irritation instead of an allergic reaction.

Eyelid Dermatitis


Discontinuing the use of any triggering substance is the best line of defense. If the trigger is food, removing it from your diet is a must. You may also be prescribed a short-term topical or oral corticosteroid to reduce inflammation, itching, and swelling.

Make sure to avoid products with ingredients you may be allergic to such as:

  • parabens
  • added fragrance
  • lanolin
  • formaldehyde

Always keep the eyelids clean. Refrain from touching, rubbing, or scratching the eye area. Avoid using makeup even hypoallergenic products in the eye area until symptoms are fully eliminated.

Home remedy topical applications you may also try are:

  • cucumber slices
  • a cold washcloth dipped in water or milk
  • aloe vera gel

Keeping a journal of allergic attacks will help you uncover possible triggers. Write down all the products and ingredients you think are related to your allergy. Also, note items around your house such as cleaners that may be transmitting irritants from your hands to your eyelids.

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