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What is eczema eyelid

Eyelid dermatitis occurs when irritant contact dermatitis occurs on your eyelids.

Eyelid dermatitis is also called eyelid eczema . Upper, lower or both eyelids on one or both sides can be affected by contact dermatitis

This is often caused by a number of factors, from the irritated skin to the underlying dandruff.

Skin dermatitis can occur anywhere on the body including on your eyelids thus called eczema eyelid.

These symptoms are dry, itchy skin which is often flaky and sometimes scaly.

This article outlines some common eczema eyelid symptoms and treatments.

Difference between eczema eyelid and dermatitis

Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin.

Eczema is a term used to describe a group of skin conditions in which the skin is itchy, dry, and inflamed.

The terms eczema and dermatitis are often used interchangeably. But “dermatitis” is a broader term that encompasses more than eczema rashes.

Although the terms “dermatitis” and “eczema” may overlap in how they’re used, specific types of skin conditions are better known by just one of the names.

For example, many doctors use the terms “atopic dermatitis” and “eczema” interchangeably but wouldn’t use the term “contact dermatitis” in place of “eczema.”

What is allergic contact dermatitis (ACD)

Allerrgic contact dermatitis (ACD)skin disorders are delayed type hypersensitive reactions whose peak occurs 24 to 48 hours following the allergen presentation of the disease.

Acute ACD

Acute ACD symptoms may include vesicle and papules, macules, erythema and perioral swollen skin, fissuring, liquidification and scaling.

Irritable contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis is the condition where you experience irritation or discomfort when you touch a substance like soap and cosmetic items.

It can cause irritation, but it is relatively temporary.

You can have a mildly irritation immediately.

There are two types:

  • Irritant contact dermatitis
  • Allergic contact dermatitis.

These names refer to what causes the swelling, scaling and itching — either an allergic reaction or some sort of irritating substance.

Irritant contact dermatitis makes up about 80% of contact dermatitis cases.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic Dermatitis is different from contact dermatitis.

Atopic contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes in contact with a substance and you have an allergic reaction that causes an eczema rash to appear.

When you have an allergy reaction, your immune system produces antibodies as a reaction to the substance. These antibodies also create a chemical reaction in your cells that leads to irritating eczema symptoms

Your body will immediately recognize that the allergen is foreign.

The immune system fights the allergen so it causes the symptoms of irritability.

Atopic dermatitis does not have a treatment.

The signs of a problem vary in severity.

Allergic contact dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis can occur when a person is allergic to a substance and becomes hypersensitive.

Allergic contact dermatitis is your immune system reacting to an allergen.

Allergic contact dermatitis develops because of an allergic reaction that causes inflammation of the skin, such as pollen in a person with hay fever . Some cosmetic products or metals, such as nickel, are common causes of allergic skin reactions.

You may have no problems using makeup, for example, for a long time and then, suddenly, it causes eyelid dermatitis — usually a day or two after you apply the product.

Allergic contact dermatitis is often caused by cosmetics, but there are other substances that can trigger it as well, including: Moisturizers, cleansers, aftershave or eye cream, topical antibiotics, sunblock, false eyelashes or false nails, jewelry made of nickel or gold, eye drops or contact lens solution, fragrances and more.

Common forms of eczema eyelid dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis

develops because of an allergic reaction that causes inflammation of the skin, such as pollen in a person with hay fever . Some cosmetic products or metals, such as nickel, are common causes of allergic skin reactions. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by the eyelid coming into direct contact.

Irritant eczema eyelid contact dermatitis

However, it is more common in people with sensitive skin.

People with a background of atopic eczema , asthma and hayfever (“ atopy ”) are more likely to suffer from irritant contact dermatitis than people without this history.

Any pre-existing inflammation of the skin can cause the skin’s waterproof “barrier” to be compromised and may make it more

Severe contact dermatitis

  • Severe chest pain or pressure.
  • Any pain that is so severe that you can’t stand it.
  • Injury to your head, neck or spine.
  • Loss of consciousness (if you pass out/faint).
  • Sudden weakness, especially if you can’t speak or move.
  • Dizziness that doesn’t stop.
  • Seizure.
  • Poisoning or an overdose.
  • Coughing or throwing up blood.
  • Heavy bleeding.
  • High fever that doesn’t get better with medicine.
  • Stroke symptoms – slurred speech, numbness, weakness, loss of balance and/or vision problems.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrhoids are similar to skin conditions causing dandruff for children and cradling caps for adults.

Eyelid dermatitis may be caused by contact with irritants or allergens, or it can be a manifestation of an underlying skin disease, such as atopic dermatitis or seborrheic dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common condition that causes the skin to become inflamed and flakey. It often occurs on the scalp but can also affect oily areas of skin, such as the eyelids.

It is unclear what causes conditions such as atopic dermatitis, though there seems to be a genetic component, and it can run in families.

Causes of eczema eyelid dermatitis

The causes, types, and triggers of eyelid dermatitis vary. It may be necessary to try several of these actions before finding the most effective ones.

Allergic reactions are more likely to occur the longer you have been using a product, and can be localised or more widespread

Acrylates are also found in eyeglass frames.

Metals – A common allergen found in eyelash curlers, mascara, eye shadow, contact lens cleaning solutions and eyebrow pencils is nickel. Nickel is a common allergen, and direct contact can cause an eczema eyelid dermatitis. You should also remember that hand transfer from a metal nail file, occupational metal exposure, or jewelry placed on the hands and fingers can also cause eczema eyelid dermatitis.

Hair dye. A chemical allergen found in hair dye is paraphenylenediamine (PPD). It can also be found in textile.

Food allergies can trigger eczema eyelid dermatitis. Dairy products, in particular, can cause symptoms of atopic dermatitis to emerge.

A person should consult a doctor before making any significant dietary changes.

Try anti-itching products . Over-the-counter medications can reduce the urge to itch.

A hot or cold compress may also help.

Who is at risk to develop eczema eyelid dermatitis

Risk factors The skin around the eyes is thin and delicate, and so the eyes are especially sensitive to irritation.

While it is hard to predict who will develop eczema eyelid dermatitis, certain factors may increase the likelihood of the condition developing.

These include:


Infants are more susceptible to certain types, such as seborrheic dermatitis, also called cradle cap.


Skin conditions often run in families. Poor personal hygiene . Not keeping the skin clean.

Symptoms of eczema eyelid dermatitis

Common symptoms of eczema eyelid dermatitis.

With either type of eyelid dermatitis, you may experience symptoms in one or both eyes.

Sometimes symptoms occur occasionally; other times, eyelid eczema is chronic.

Eyelid contact dermatitis symptoms are: Red, scaly rash on your eyelids Itching and swelling around your eyes Pain or burning in and around your eyes.

These symptoms are caused by eyelid dermatitis in some people.

Your symptoms are influenced by what kind of skin condition:

Eyelid dermatitis may cause stress and sleep disturbances.

Besides eye diseases you may also get conjunctivitis (pink eyes) or cornea infections.

Often this condition can be referred to as Keratoconsus.

Sometimes there will be blind spots.

How does irritant eyelid contact dermatitis occur?

Irritant contact dermatitis is an innate inflammatory reaction due to injury to the skin.

Unlike allergic contact dermatitis , it does not involve specific antibodies ( immunoglobulins ) or specific immune cells (memory T cells ).

What triggers irritant eyelid contact dermatitis?

Irritant contact dermatitis may be triggered by contact with irritating substances and/or physical triggers.

How long does eyelid dermatitis last?

With treatment, the symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis may start to feel better after one to two days.

If you have allergic contact dermatitis, it might take two to three days of treatment to see improvement.

Risk Factors

Anyone can get eyelid dermatitis, but you’re more vulnerable and at a higher risk if you have any of the following:

  • Sensitive skin.
  • Asthma .
  • A history of hay fever .
  • A history of atopic eczema.
  • Any skin inflammation.
  • A weak skin barrier.

Is eyelid dermatitis hereditary

No, eyelid dermatitis isn’t hereditary. But you may be predisposed to asthma or a weaker skin barrier, which can put you at a higher risk.

Consult a medical professional if there is an underlying cause.

Diagnosis Eyelid Dermatitis

Your physician is likely to diagnose your eyelid dermatitis condition.

You can also require a doctor to determine the cause and the symptoms.

Your physician will examine your eyes to determine if you can get any medical treatment from a medical practitioner.

You can track and record symptoms before going on a doctor appointment.

Besides testing, it’s possible to take some tests.

A skin test is a useful method when diagnosing contact dermatitis.

Your medical practitioner will usually not perform laboratory tests to diagnose a dermatopic or seborrhoidal skin condition.

Eyelid Eczema

Keep a daily journal If you have eczema on your eyelids, keep a journal to write down all the products you use each day — skin care, hair products, soaps, perfumes — to see if you can determine an ingredient that’s making your symptoms worse.

Some of the most common causes of eyelid eczema include:

  • Certain foods
  • Contact lens solution
  • Rubber and latex
  • Eye makeup
  • Nail polish
  • Facial cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Hair dye
  • Metals
  • Certain medications
  • Eye drops
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites
  • Irritant contact dermatitis
  • Extreme hot or cold weather
  • Humidity
  • Dry air
  • Insect bites
  • Bleach

The perio-ocular area can be a frustrating and perplexing problem for both the doctor and the patient.

Lack of recognition of the clinical signs of this entity often results in delayed diagnosis.

Once the diagnosis is made, attention should be focused on all items that may be in contact with the eyelid skin and not just topical medications.

Clinical studies of eyelid dermatitis

Eyelid dermatitis is most commonly attributed to allergic response. This retrospective clinical study identifies common allergens with eyelid involvement and addresses a literary gap by providing a clear approach for effective management of periorbital allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) recurrence


Charts of 215 patients diagnosed with periorbital dermatitis who were patch tested with Mayo Clinic Standard Series, Extended Standard Series, and personal products from 2013 to 2017 were examined. Positive reaction rates for patients with eyelid involvement were compared to those without. Findings were also compared to North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) 2013–2014 and Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group (MCCDG) 2011–2015 general patch test populations.

Of a population of 215 people suffering from eyelid dermatitis in the four years studied at The Mayo Clinic of Arizona, 181 (95%) were female. The reported racial demographics of this patient ranged from 189 (92.2%) black to 5 (2.4%), 42.0%) Asian to 10.5%; American Natives – Alaska Native to 62.9%) other; and 10 unknowns. Given these demographic data we recognize this may not apply to people with varying skin colors. In these 224 patients who were involved in glaucoma, 78 allergens were found to induce positive reactions.


The seven biggest allergy types involved with ACD of the eyelids include metals, skin shellac, additives (e.g. BAK), antibiotic topical products (including aminoglyco-sides and bacitracin), fragrances, acrylates and apri

This finding is in keeping with previously published research identifying topical eye medications as triggers on the retina and ovaries.

Identify patient products labels with the proper terminology.


The abstract was presented at the annual conference of the 2018 AARP Vision and Ophthalmol. The posters abstract is published as ‘Poster Abstracts’ on the Investigative Ophthalmological and Visual Science site..


Freeman AK, Serle J, VanVeldhuisen P, et al. Tacrolimus ointment in the treatment of eyelid dermatitis. Cutis 2004; 73:267.

Nivenius E, van der Ploeg I, Jung K, et al. Tacrolimus ointment vs steroid ointment for eyelid dermatitis in patients with atopic keratoconjunctivitis. Eye (Lond) 2007; 21:968.

Shah M, Lewis FM, Gawkrodger DJ. Facial dermatitis and eyelid dermatitis: a comparison of patch test results and final diagnoses. Contact Dermatitis 1996; 34: 140–1. PubMed Guin JD. Eyelid dermatitis: experience in 203 cases. J Am Acad Dermatol 2002; 47:755–65.

Ockenfels HM, Seemann U, Goos M. Contact allergy in patients with periorbital eczema: an analysis of allergens. Data recorded by the Information Network of the Departments of Dermatology. Dermatology 1997; 195:119.

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