Treating Eczema on the Eyelids: Causes, Symptoms and Relief

Eczema is a common skin condition that causes itchy, inflamed, and irritated skin. Although eczema can occur anywhere on the body, having eczema on the delicate skin of the eyelids can be especially troublesome. Eczema on the eyelids, also called eyelid dermatitis, can cause redness, swelling, flaking, scaling, crusting, and itching of the eyelids.

The good news is that there are many effective treatments available to find relief from uncomfortable eczema on the eyelids. This article will cover the causes, symptoms, and best treatments for managing eczema on the eyelids.

What Causes Eczema on the Eyelids?

Eczema is often triggered by environmental factors and irritants. Some of the common causes and triggers for eyelid eczema include:

  • Contact irritants: Makeup, skincare products, and haircare products containing ingredients that irritate the skin can trigger eyelid eczema flares. Common irritants include fragrances, preservatives, and chemicals.
  • Allergies: Allergies to dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, and other allergens can cause inflammation and eyelid eczema. Rubbing and touching the eyes due to allergies further irritates the skin.
  • Sensitivity: The skin on the eyelids is extremely thin and sensitive. Eczema sufferers often have very sensitive skin that is prone to irritation from various factors.
  • Stress: High stress levels can bring about eczema flares throughout the body, including the eyelids. Stress causes inflammation that leads to itchy, red eyelids.
  • Bacteria: An overgrowth of bacteria on the skin (called bacterial infection) may worsen eczema on the eyelids.

Signs and Symptoms of Eyelid Eczema

How can you tell if you have eczema on your eyelids? Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen, itchy, and irritated eyelids
  • Flaky, scaly, or crusty eyelid skin
  • Excessive rubbing and touching of the eyes
  • Fine bumps on eyelid skin
  • Skin discoloration – eyelids become darker or lighter than normal skin
  • Sensitivity to light, makeup, eye drops, and other irritants
  • Excess tearing, watery eyes
  • Eyelid skin thickening over time
  • Burning or stinging sensation on eyelids

Symptoms may come and go in phases. Flare-ups can occur periodically while symptoms improve at other times. If you experience any of these chronic eyelid problems, it’s a good indication of eczema being present.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

There are some simple home remedies and lifestyle changes that can provide relief for eczema on the eyes. These include:

  • Avoid irritants: Stop using makeup, skin, and haircare products that contain alcohol, fragrances, and chemicals. These often aggravate eye eczema.
  • Warm compress: Applying a warm, wet compress on closed eyes for 10-15 minutes can help soothe itching and irritation.
  • Cold compress: Some find that applying a cold compress reduces swelling and inflammation of eczema on the eyelids.
  • Hydrate and moisturize: Drink plenty of water and use thick ointments and creams around (but not directly on) the eyes to hydrate and moisturize. This helps prevent dryness.
  • Gentle cleansers: Use only gentle, fragrance-free cleansers to clean the face and eyes. Avoid scrubbing or over-washing which dries skin.
  • Reduce stress: Try relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, or other stress reducers to minimize eczema flares related to stress.
  • Wear sunglasses: Wear sunglasses when outside to minimize sun exposure and irritation to eczema prone eyelids.

These natural remedies can often provide relief for mild cases of eyelid eczema. But for moderate to severe eczema, medicated treatments are needed.

Medicated Treatments for Eyelid Eczema

For more stubborn eczema flare-ups on the delicate eye area, stronger medicated treatments may be prescribed. These help manage inflammation, itchiness, and bacteria growth. Some common medications for eyelid eczema include:

  • Corticosteroid creams/ointments: These are anti-inflammatory topical corticosteroids to reduce swelling and itching when applied on the eyelids sparingly. They come in different strengths.
  • Calcineurin inhibitors: These immunomodulators like pimecrolimus and tacrolimus work by suppressing the immune system reactions that trigger eczema. Especially useful for eyelids.
  • Antibiotic ointments: Ointments containing antibiotics help combat bacterial infections that can accompany eyelid eczema.
  • Antihistamines: Oral antihistamines like cetirizine or loratadine help control allergies and reduce eyelid rubbing.
  • Biologic injections: For severe cases, injections of biologic medications like dupilumab can treat eczema throughout the body.

These medications should only be used carefully under medical supervision. While effective, they can have side effects if overused. Follow dosage guidelines carefully.

Best Practices for Managing Eczema on Eyelids

With proper, consistent care, eczema on the eyelids can be kept under control. Here are some best tips for managing eyelid eczema:

  • Identify and avoid triggers like allergens, weather, and irritants that cause flares
  • Be gentle when cleansing eyelids – use hands only and avoid rubbing
  • Apply cold or warm compresses to find relief during flares
  • Use thick moisturizers to hydrate eyelids when flares subside
  • Treat eyelid skin very gently – don’t scrub, bleach or exfoliate
  • See a dermatologist or allergist to find customized treatment plan
  • Reduce eye rubbing and touching to minimize irritation
  • Wear sunglasses and hats for sun protection
  • Take antihistamines as needed for allergy control
  • Use prescribed medicated creams carefully under guidance
  • Keep skin care and makeup products simple and fragrance free

With this proper care and avoiding triggers, eyelid eczema flares can be minimized for clearer, more comfortable eyes.

When to See a Doctor

It’s important to consult a dermatologist or ophthalmologist experienced in treating eye conditions if you have any of the below concerns:

  • Eczema on eyelids that does not improve with over-the-counter treatments
  • Severe eczema flare up with oozing, crusting, or bleeding
  • Suspected bacterial infection of eyelids and eyes
  • Swelling, irritation, or vision changes
  • No relief from severe itching and discomfort
  • Eczema that spreads to eye surface and conjunctiva

A doctor can properly diagnose the type and severity of eyelid eczema and prescribe the most suitable treatments. Leaving it untreated can lead to worsening irritation, infection, and vision problems.


Eczema on the eyelids can be itchy, aggravating, and downright uncomfortable. But with diligent skin care and avoidance of triggers, eczema flares can be minimized for good eye health. Identify and treat the underlying causes with gentle cleansers, moisturizers, lifestyle changes, and medical treatments as needed. With a customized skin care routine, eczema on the eyelids can be managed for relief. Handle eyelids gently, keep skin moisturized, and protect eyes from irritants with sunglasses. With proper care, the condition can be kept in check for happy eyes.

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