Itchy, flaky skin is one thing - but what if it’s all around your eyes? Yes, eczema can affect your eyelids too. While one in five children and one in ten adults have eczema (also known as dermatitis), those who experience it on their face are more likely to see it around the eyes, a common condition with all the same symptoms - only it’s on a much thinner, more fragile area.
Read on for your ultimate guide to caring for this tricky condition.
What is eyelid eczema?
Eyelid eczema is a skin condition that causes the eye area to become red, itchy, dry and scaly. As with eczema itself, it can be hereditary, or even caused by the environment, allergies or a specific irritant that you've come into contact with.
There are many types of eczema, but the most common forms are atopic eczema, contact eczema (aka contact dermatitis), or seborrhoeic dermatitis. While the former is the classic condition, caused by genetics and the immune system, contact eczema is - yes, you guessed it - caused by either an allergen or an irritant coming into contact with the eyes and damaging the skin. Seborrhoeic dermatitis, meanwhile, is more common in adults and can be caused by stress, yeast on the skin or even another condition. Whichever type you have, it’s problematic because of how thin and sensitive the skin around your eyes is - which means it can lead to infection if not treated properly.
What does eyelid eczema look like?
It’s not always easy to pinpoint eczema in this delicate area, because you might confuse the symptoms for hayfever and allergies - but if you’re unsure, it’s always worth talking to your GP or pharmacist for a professional opinion.
The most common symptoms of eyelid eczema are:
- Dry, itchy, irritated skin
- Patches of red skin (in fairer skin tones) or darker brown, purple, or grey skin (in darker skin tones)
- Swollen or thickened skin
- Burning and stinging
- Small raised bumps
- Weeping, cracked skin
- Flaky, scaly skin (especially for seborrhoeic dermatitis)
These forms of eczema can affect just one or both of your eyes, and the irritation can lead to an extra fold of skin in some cases - especially if you’re unable to stop rubbing them.
How to get rid of eyelid eczema
The most important thing in dealing with eyelid eczema is to make sure that that’s what you have in the first place - so clarify that with your doctor or pharmacist before you crack on with soothing your dry and itchy skin.
Depending on which type you have and what caused it, it may take a little trial and error to get rid of your symptoms, but here’s our expert guide to caring for eczema on and around the eyes.
Track your triggers
No matter which type of eczema you have, it’s important to keep an eye on what could be causing a flare-up. The condition can be easily worsened by lifestyle changes and factors such as stress, extreme weather and even your diet.
It’s all about identifying patterns. Keep a skin diary to log what you’ve eaten, any products you’ve used and any changes big or small - then note how your skin has reacted along the way. Soon you might spot a common trigger that sets off a particularly itchy period, giving you the insight you need to prevent it from coming back.
Home remedies for eye eczema
A doctor, dermatologist or pharmacist should be your first port of call if you have severe inflammation or itching around the eyes, to rule out infection and make sure you know what you’re dealing with - and they may give you mild topical steroids to treat it. But if you’re already in the know, there are tricks that you can use at home to soothe the symptoms.
Holding a cold compress against your eyes (such as a cloth wrapped around a bag of ice) can help to ease the itch as well as any swelling. For very dry and flaky skin, applying a layer of Vaseline, organic balm or unscented cream can help soothe the skin barrier and keep it feeling soft.
Last but not least, avoid potential triggers; that means sticking to lukewarm water when bathing, protecting yourself from extreme weather, and doing what you can to reduce your stress levels.
Best eye cream for eczema
This is not the time for heavy duty skincare - instead, you want feather-light, gentle products that will support the needs of this extra-delicate area. Eczema means your skin barrier - which keeps all the good stuff in and the irritants out - is compromised. That means the best eye cream is one with ingredients that will help with repair in both the short and long term.
Opt for a natural fragrance-free eye serum or gel such as System D, which is packed with skin-strengthening Ceramides to help build your skin’s resilience and prevent future flare-ups. The cooling ceramic tip provides instant relief from hot, itchy skin, while anti-inflammatory Schisandra Extract soothes from within.
Use a tailored skincare routine
Talking of skincare, it’s worth looking at your entire routine - not just your eye products - to help ease the itch. Fragrances, detergents and preservatives can all trigger an eczema flare-up or contact dermatitis, so it makes sense to pare back your skincare regime to gentle products that are tailored to sensitive skin.
Not sure where to start? Book in for a free online skincare consultation with our experts and they’ll chat through the formulas and ingredients to look out for.
Whether you’re searching for the best eye cream for eczema or gentle make-up removers that won’t irritate your skin further, shop our range of skincare products for eczema-prone skin - they’re all independently patch tested for your peace of mind.