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What causes eye eczema?


Eye Eczema is more common than normal eczema, according to the latest figures, and is more common among middle age women than any other age group due to decades of wearing cosmetics and using eye make up removers.

Atopic eye dermatitis is the umbrella term for all types of eye eczema and eye dermatitis. However there are specific eye conditions that may come under the umbrella term of eye eczema, but are in fact something a little different.

Below is a guide to the eye conditions that can cause symptoms of eye eczema;

Seborrheic eye eczema

Seborrheic eye eczema is a form of skin inflammation of unknown cause. The signs and symptoms of seborrheic eye eczema include yellowish, oily, scaly patches of skin on the eyelids and redness.  Dandruff in the eyebrows is also a classic sign of seborrheic eye eczema. It is commonplace for seborrheic dermatitis to inflame the skin around the eyes and at the creases under the eyes and at the corners of the eyes. Seborrheic dermatitis is not necessarily associated with itching. This condition tends to run in families. Emotional stress, oily skin and weather conditions may all increase a person’s risk of developing seborrheic eye eczema.

Contact eye eczema 

Contact eye eczema (contact dermatitis) is a localized reaction that includes redness, itching, and burning in areas where the skin has come into contact with an allergen or with a general irritant such as a chemical in an eye product or cosmetic. Other examples of contact eczema include reactions to laundry detergents, soaps, nickel (present in jewellery), fabrics, clothing, and perfume.

Atopic kerato conjunctivitis

Although rare, atopic kerato conjunctivitis is the most severe type of allergic eye disease. It occurs more often in men and is often severe. This persistent condition results in constant itching, dry eyes and blurred vision. It’s associated with corneal swelling and scarring. Eyelid eczema and infection are common.


Blepharitis is an eye condition that causes chronic inflammation, itching and flaking of the eyelid and if often mistaken for eye eczema. The condition can also cause crusting along the eye lids and redness in the eyes. The onset of blepharitis can be acute and stay for 2-4 weeks.

There are two different types of Blepharitis;

Staphylococcal blepharitis is caused by infection of the skin on the eyelid by Staphylococcal bacteria.

Rosacea-associated blepharitis is very common and found in people with a rosacea. The oil glands in the lid of rosacea sufferers secrete an oil which leads to inflammation at the meibomian gland openings which are found at the edge of the eye lid.

Hayfever eye eczema

[quote]People with allergies are generally more prone to eye allergies, but hay fever often leads to secondary eye dermatitis. The constant weeping of hay fever eyes and the swelling from the eye allergy causes the skin around the eyes to become very dry, itchy and swollen.[/quote]

 Food allergy eye dermatitis

Food allergies such as gluten intolerance and dairy allergies can cause eye dermatitis.

 Pet eye dermatitis

Allergies to pets are a very common cause of eye dermatitis

 Washing powder eye allergies

People with very sensitive skin often experience mild skin reactions to washing powder residue left on their clothes after washing. [quote]However washing powder eye allergies are very common due to bedding. While sleeping eyes are often rubbed against bedding and pillows. [/quote] In addition bedding is often washed with fabric softeners, which contain strong perfumes and can easily irritate the sensitive skin around the eyes.

 Glasses/sunglasses eye dermatitis

 People who wear glasses or sunglasses a lot can develop eye eczema symptoms due to the contact irritation caused by the phalates in the plastic of the glasses rims or from the metal in glasses rims.

 Contact lens solution eye dermatitis

People who wear contact lenses can develop eye eczema symptoms dude to the lens solution running around their eyes when putting in contact lenses.


Syringomas are harmless sweat duct tumors, typically found clustered on eyelids. They are skin-coloured or yellowish firm rounded bumps and can sometimes be mistake for seborrheic eye eczema


Xanthelasma is a yellowish deposit of cholesterol underneath the skin which usually appear on or around the eyelids as crusty yellow bumps. They are common in people of Asian origin and those from the Mediterranean region.

Helpful treatments & management for eye eczema

  • Steroids creams – are usually avoided as the skin around the eye is so thin and delicate and steroids can cause skin thinning and discolouration. However mild steroids are sometimes prescribed for very limited periods of time if the eye eczema is severe
  • [quote]Non-steroid anti-inflammatory eye creams – are often the best solution for eye eczema or eye lid irritation and itching as they are mild enough to use around the eye without damaging the skin and are usually more effective in the eye area than elsewhere on the body due to the thinness of the skin around the eyes.[/quote]
  • Topical antibiotics – are often prescribed for bacterial infections around the eye
  • Non- perfumed or chemical anti-bacterial washes & creams – are a very effective way of reducing the risk of secondary bacterial infections around the eyes and on the eye rims.
  • [quote]Chemical-free cream cleansers – are the most effective way to remove make up from around the eye without the risk of causing a reaction. Eye make up removers are often harsh and contain chemicals can cause irritation to eye prone to eye eczema and eye dermatitis.[/quote]
  • Warm water eye compresses – are helpful for de-crusting infected eyelids and softening scabs that may have forms on the eye lids or in the eye lashes.
  • Non-chemical brow smoothing serums – are helpful for sticking down or smoothing flakes that appear in the eyebrows in association with eye eczema
  • Non-chemical under eye concealers – are the most effective way to cover up under eye redness. Make sure the products used are chemical and perfume free so as not to risk causing further irritation. Once eye eczema flares up, eyes become hyper sensitive so may react easily to chemicals and perfumes in cosmetics and other eye products.
  •  Non-chemical de-sensitising creams – can help make skin around the eye less reactive while at the same time moisturising dryness and flaking.




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