Eyelid Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Diagnosis, How long Does It Last?

What is Eyelid Dermatitis?

Eyelid dermatitis is a condition in which the skin around the eyes becomes dry, itchy and inflamed. It is also referred to as eczema, psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis of eyelids.

What is Eyelid Dermatitis?

Causes of Eyelid Dermatitis

The causes of eyelid dermatitis depends on the various types. The types of dermatitis according to the cause include:

  • Irritant Contact Dermatitis: It occurs when the eyelid comes into direct contact with makeup, detergent or soaps. The irritant present in these substances damages the outer layer of the skin.
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This type of eyelid dermatitis occurs due to the allergic reaction which leads to inflammation of the skin. The allergy can be due to pollen, any cosmetic product, or any metal.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: Seborrheic dermatitis is a common condition which leads to dryness and inflammation of the skin around the eyes. It occurs in the scalp as well. This condition is seen occurring mostly on the oily areas of the skin.
  • Atopic Dermatitis: This is also a common form of eczema affecting the eyelids. What causes this type of dermatitis is unknown.

Symptoms of Eyelid Dermatitis

Dermatitis can occur on one or both the eyelids. The affected eyelids present the following symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Burning pain
  • Flaky and creased skin

If the condition persists for a long time then it can lead to lichenification, which is characterised by thickening of the eyelid.

If the cause of eyelid dermatitis is due to an allergen or irritant, the symptoms subside as soon as the trigger substance is removed.

Diagnosis of Eyelid Dermatitis

It is possible to diagnose the cause of eyelid dermatitis if the trigger is identified. If the trigger can be avoided, then the condition can be corrected without any medical attention.

Other Diagnostic Methods Are:

  • Physical Examination: The doctor may examine the skin condition to reach the diagnosis. He may inquire about any history of an allergic reaction and for the history of asthma, hay fever, atopic eczema or any other skin condition.
  • Patch Test: If the doctor suspects an allergy, he might recommend a patch test.

    This test involves placing a small amount of allergen on the skin and covering it with a hypoallergic tape, forming a patch. The individual wears the patch for a day or two. The doctor would check it after two days for an allergic reaction.

  • Intradermal Allergy Test: This test gives a quick result i.e. within 30 minutes, unlike the patch test. Small needles are used to inject the allergen into the arm and observed for an allergic reaction. The doctor can test multiple substances at one time.
  • Skin Prick Or A Scratch Test: This is also a faster diagnostic technique and can be used to test up to 40 substances at a time. Various allergens are inserted into the skin by lancet (a cutting tool). In this procedure, histamine is also injected to verify the accuracy of the test.

    If the histamine fails to produce an allergic reaction the test is considered invalid.

    Glycerine and saline are also injected. If they produce an allergic reaction then the doctor can diagnose yours as a very sensitive skin instead of allergic.

  • Radioallergosorbent Test: It is a blood test done to detect IgE antibodies. It helps the doctor find the substance the patient is allergic to.

Treatment of Eyelid Dermatitis

The first and foremost treatment for eyelid dermatitis is to avoid contact with the potential allergen or irritant.

The doctor prescribes mild topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors, which may be required to treat active inflammation. Oral corticosteroids are prescribed to treat severe contact dermatitis.

  • Avoid touching the area frequently, clean and rinse the hands before doing so.
  • Do not rub or scratch the area affected with dermatitis.
  • Avoid eyelid cosmetic during active inflammation.
  • Wash eyes with plain water, or cream cleansers designed especially for the sensitive skin.
  • Wear protective glasses if exposed to cold, wind or dust particles.

Few topical applications such as cucumber slices, cold washcloth dipped in water or milk, or aloe vera gel can also be included in the eyelid dermatitis treatment regimen.

How Long Does Eyelid Dermatitis Last?

The eyelid dermatitis can be successfully treated if the allergen or the irritant is eliminated. The symptoms of eyelid dermatitis usually occur within a few hours or days after the contact with the allergen or the trigger substance. These subside as soon as the trigger substance is removed.

If the trigger is not identified, the treatment plan is stressed on the management of symptoms of eyelid dermatitis.

Eyelid dermatitis is not a serious medical condition but can be uncomfortable and can interfere with the daily life. The symptoms can be prevented with and managed by adopting few precautions.

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