Eyelid contact dermatitis

Eyelid contact dermatitis is an inflammatory reaction involving the eyelid skin that is caused by contact with a trigger substance. It may be a result of irritation (irritant contact dermatitis) or allergies (allergic contact dermatitis).

Signs of eyelid dermatitis:

  • itching
  • stinging
  • burning
  • lids are red and scaly
  • swelling aound the eye region

What triggers irritant eyelid contact dermatitis?

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

Irritating substances that may cause irritant contact dermatitis of the eyelids include:

  • Soaps and detergents
  • Acids and alkalis
  • Chemicals such as chlorine under goggles worn when swimming
  • Dust particles
  • Hydrophobic substances (comprised of molecules that repel water, i.e. drying agents)
  • Cosmetics such as eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara and sunscreen

These substances may touch the eyelids directly or be transferred from the fingers (which may be unaffected by dermatitis).

Physical triggers that may cause irritant contact dermatitis include:

  • Temperature extremes (heat or cold)
  • Humidity extremes (dry or moist)
  • Mechanical (rubbing or scratching)



How does allergic eyelid contact dermatitis occur?

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by an immune reaction to an allergen. This is often a substance that we have been exposed to many times previously without problem. The rash usually occurs one to several days after the contact with the allergen, meaning at times it can make it diffcult to identify the cause of the dermatitis.

Allergy to cosmetics may be due to contact with allergens in:

  • Moisturisers
  • Eye creams
  • Sunscreens
  • Makeups
  • Cleansers
  • Fragrances and essential oils

Other potential allergens are found in:

  • Eyelash curlers or tweezers (nickel)
  • False eyelashes (components or more often, adhesives)
  • Eye drops (preservatives and antiseptics)
  • Contact lens solution
  • Rubber goggles
  • Spectacle frames

It is important to avoid contact with irritants and known or potential allergens, to ensure that the skin is healthy and able to form a waterproof barrier

  • Avoid rubbing and scratching.
  • Only touch eyelids with clean, rinsed hands.
  • Wash eyelids with plain water or use a cream cleanser designed for sensitive skin.
  • Avoid all contact with allergens detected by patch tests – this is necessary life-long.
  • Avoid eyelid cosmetics while the dermatitis is active.

If you are suffering from eyelid dermatitis, make sure to book an appointment with one of our Optometrsit, to give your eyes and skin the best chance of recovery. Beckenham Optometrist has been operating in Avalon for 22 years and our team is passionate about delivering the most comprehensive level of eye care to the community through a personalised and friendly approach. Beckenham Optometrist can be contacted on 9918 0616 or at info@beckenhamoptometrist.com.au.

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