Eyelid Dermatitis: Contact, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment (2023)


What is eyelid dermatitis?

Eyelid dermatitis (also called eyelid eczema, periocular dermatitis or periorbital dermatitis) is a type of contact dermatitis. As that name implies, it’s a skin condition caused by your eyelids coming into contact with something — a substance or physical trigger that you’re allergic to or irritated by. Your eyelids react by turning red and scaly, and they may swell and thicken. Stinging, burning and itching are common symptoms of eyelid contact dermatitis.

What are the types of eyelid dermatitis?

Eyelid dermatitis is divided into two types: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. These names refer to what causes the swelling, scaling and itching — either an allergic reaction or some sort of irritating substance. Irritant contact dermatitis makes up about 80% of contact dermatitis cases.

How long does eyelid dermatitis last?

With treatment, the symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis may start to feel better after one to two days. If you have allergic contact dermatitis, it might take two to three days of treatment to see improvement.

How common is eyelid dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis is a very common skin condition. About 15% to 20% of people will experience it at some point during their lives, but it’s unclear what percentage of those cases are dermatitis of the eyelid.

How does eyelid dermatitis start?

Eyelid dermatitis can start slowly or hit you suddenly. It usually starts with red skin and itchiness.

Who is at risk for eyelid dermatitis?

Anyone can get eyelid dermatitis, but you’re more vulnerable and at a higher risk if you have any of the following:

  • Sensitive skin.
  • Asthma.
  • A history of hay fever.
  • A history of atopic eczema.
  • Any skin inflammation.
  • A weak skin barrier.

Is eyelid dermatitis hereditary (inherited from your parents)?

No, eyelid dermatitis isn’t hereditary. But you may be predisposed to asthma or a weaker skin barrier, which can put you at a higher risk for dermatitis.

(Video) Eczema on Eyelids 2021 - 2022 | Causes, Symptoms, Types, Treatment and Prevention

Is eyelid dermatitis contagious?

No, dermatitis is not contagious. It can’t be spread from person to person.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes eyelid dermatitis?

Eyelid dermatitis is divided into two types: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis of the eyelid can be caused by either a physical trigger or an external irritant.

Physical triggers

  • Extreme heat.
  • Extreme cold.
  • Extreme humidity.
  • Rubbing or scratching.
  • Excessively washing your hands with hot water and soap.


  • Dust.
  • Cosmetics/makeup (mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow and/or sunscreen).
  • Soaps, detergents, bleach.
  • Chemicals (chlorine, etc.)
  • Hydrophobic substances (drying agents that repel water).
  • Some metals.
  • Scratchy wool.
  • Plants like peppers and poinsettias.

Allergic contact dermatitis is your immune system reacting to an allergen. You may have no problems using makeup, for example, for a long time and then, suddenly, it causes eyelid dermatitis — usually a day or two after you apply the product. Allergic contact dermatitis is often caused by cosmetics, but there are other substances that can trigger it as well, including:

  • Moisturizers, cleansers, aftershave or eye cream.
  • Topical antibiotics.
  • Sunblock.
  • False eyelashes or false nails.
  • Jewelry made of nickel or gold.
  • Eye drops or contact lens solution.
  • Fragrances and essential oils.
  • Glasses frames.
  • Metals like the nickel in tweezers or eyelash curlers.
  • Latex in things like goggles, condoms, catheters and balloons.
  • Hair dye.
  • Dust mites.
  • Pollen.
  • Poison ivy/oak/sumac.

What does eyelid dermatitis look and feel like?

Whether your eyelid dermatitis is caused by contact with an irritant or contact with an allergen, the symptoms on your eyelids are the same. Those symptoms include:

  • A red rash.
  • Stinging.
  • Scaly skin.
  • Burning.
  • Swollen skin.
  • Pain.
  • Itching.
  • Blistering.

Is eyelid dermatitis painful?

Eyelid dermatitis is painful to some people. It can also cause stinging and itching.

Do certain foods or drinks affect eyelid dermatitis?

No. Experts have observed that people sometimes assume something they ate or drank caused their contact dermatitis, or made it worse, but that usually does not happen.

Is eyelid dermatitis a sign of an eye problem?

Since your eyelids are separate from your eyes, eyelid dermatitis doesn’t hurt the eye itself. But if you itch your eyelid, your eye may get red and sore.


Is eyelid dermatitis a sign of skin cancer?

Eyelid dermatitis is a temporary, treatable skin condition that results from exposure to an allergen or irritant. It’s not a sign of skin cancer.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is eyelid dermatitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may examine you for telltale symptoms like red eyelids, scaly skin and swollen eyelids. If you report that your eyelids are itchy, stinging and/or burning, that will help narrow down the diagnosis.

Your provider may order a patch test if they think you may have an allergy.

Which healthcare providers diagnose eyelid dermatitis?

Your primary healthcare provider may be able to diagnose your dermatitis and prescribe treatment. You may also be referred to a dermatologist (who treats skin) or an allergist (who treats allergies).

Management and Treatment

How is eyelid dermatitis treated?

Your healthcare provider may treat your eyelid dermatitis with:

  • Corticosteroids (like hydrocortisone) applied to your skin.
  • Oral (taken by mouth) corticosteroids.
  • Calcineurin inhibitors.

You should not wear eye makeup while you have eyelid dermatitis.

(Video) Ask the Ecz-perts: How do you treat eyelid eczema?

Are there any at-home treatments for eyelid dermatitis?

See your healthcare provider for your eyelid dermatitis instead of trying any at-home treatments.


Can eyelid dermatitis be prevented?

You can prevent eyelid dermatitis if you know what caused it and avoid that trigger. Additionally, try the following:

  • Use products made for sensitive skin.
  • Protect your eyelids by wearing protective glasses if you’re going to be around extreme cold, high wind and/or a lot of dust.
  • Avoid scratching or rubbing your eyelids.
  • Touch your eyelids with clean hands only.

Can my diet help prevent eyelid dermatitis?

No, there are no foods or drinks you can ingest that can prevent eyelid dermatitis.

What medications might reduce my risk of eyelid dermatitis?

There are no known medications that can reduce your risk.

Outlook / Prognosis

What’s the outlook for people with eyelid dermatitis?

Eyelid dermatitis is treatable. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to clear up the contact dermatitis. But the condition can come back. It’s a good idea to try to figure out what caused it so that you can avoid the trigger.

When can I get back to my normal activities like work/school?

Dermatitis shouldn’t keep you from going about your normal daily activities. If it’s so painful and annoying that it interferes with your work or keeps you up at night, be sure to tell your healthcare provider.

(Video) Healing Eyelid Eczema Naturally + Eyelid Atopic Dermatitis Triggers

Living With

Can I live a normal life with eyelid dermatitis?

Absolutely. Eyelid dermatitis is annoying but shouldn’t impact your quality of life.

Will eyelid dermatitis affect the rest of my skin?

No. Eyelid dermatitis won’t spread to the rest of your body. However, keep in mind that what caused your eyelid dermatitis could cause dermatitis on other parts of your body.

When should I contact my healthcare provider about eyelid dermatitis?

See your healthcare provider as soon as you notice the symptoms of eyelid dermatitis. You’ll want to get treatment right away before the symptoms get too severe.

When should I go to the emergency department?

Go to the emergency department right away if your eyelids swell up so much that you can’t see. Unrelated to dermatitis, you should go to the emergency department if you have:

  • Trouble breathing/shortness of breath, or if you stopped breathing for any reason.
  • Severe chest pain or pressure.
  • Any pain that is so severe that you can’t stand it.
  • Injury to your head, neck or spine.
  • Loss of consciousness (if you pass out/faint).
  • Sudden weakness, especially if you can’t speak or move.
  • Dizziness that doesn’t stop.
  • Seizure.
  • Poisoning or an overdose.
  • Severe allergic reaction.
  • Coughing or throwing up blood.
  • Heavy bleeding.
  • High fever that doesn’t get better with medicine.
  • Severe burn, electric shock or lightning strike.
  • Stroke symptoms – slurred speech, numbness, weakness, loss of balance and/or vision problems.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Although eyelid dermatitis won’t stop you from going about your daily activities, it is a nuisance. It can cause itching and sometimes pain, so it’s important to get checked out by a healthcare provider as soon as possible to keep the symptoms from getting severe. Try your best — with the help of the people around you — to figure out what may have caused the dermatitis. If you can figure that out and avoid the trigger, then you can prevent future flares. Around 15% to 20% of people experience contact dermatitis at some point in their lives, so know that you’re not alone.


What causes contact dermatitis around the eyes? ›

Irritant contact dermatitis is simply the result of irritant substances such as make-up, face washes, detergents or solvents coming into contact with the eyelids and then damaging and irritating the skin. Cosmetic anti-ageing products that come into contact with eyelid skin can also cause irritation.

How do you get rid of eye contact dermatitis? ›

Short courses of mild topical corticosteroids (ie hydrocortisone 1% cream or ointment) or calcineurin inhibitors (ie pimecrolimus 1% cream) may be required to treat active inflammation. Severe contact dermatitis of the eyelids is usually treated with a short course of oral corticosteroids.

What causes eyelid dermatitis to flare up? ›

Types and causes

Some cosmetic products or metals, such as nickel, are common causes of allergic skin reactions. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by the eyelid coming into direct contact with a substance that damages the outer layer of the skin, such as certain types of makeup, soaps, and detergents.

What ointment is good for eyelids? ›

Vaseline is a safe moisture barrier that can help with many minor dry skin conditions, including the eyelids.

Is eyelid dermatitis permanent? ›

Most cases of eyelid dermatitis clear up after around 30 days of treatment, and once an outbreak has subsided, prevention may be as simple as avoiding the irritants that caused the initial problem.

Can stress cause eyelid dermatitis? ›

What causes eyelid eczema? If you have any form of eczema, your skin can seem totally fine sometimes, and then during a flare remind you just how annoying this health condition can be at full force. Triggers like sweat, stress, harsh soaps and detergents, dust, eye drops or solutions, and pollen can all cause flares.

Can contact dermatitis be cured? ›

Contact dermatitis usually improves or clears up completely if the substance causing the problem is identified and avoided. Treatments are also available to help ease the symptoms.

How long do contact dermatitis symptoms last? ›

The rash can develop within minutes to hours of exposure, and it can last 2 to 4 weeks. Signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis vary widely and may include: An itchy rash. Leathery patches that are darker than usual (hyperpigmented), typically on brown or Black skin.

What ingredient causes eyelid dermatitis? ›

Allergic Contact Dermatitis with Eyelid Involvement

For ACD patients with eyelid dermatitis, the seven most common contact allergen groups were identified as follows (in descending order): metals; shellac; preservatives; topical antibiotics; fragrances; acrylates; and surfactants.

How do you calm a dermatitis flare up? ›

To help reduce itching and soothe inflamed skin, try these self-care measures:
  1. Moisturize your skin at least twice a day. ...
  2. Apply an anti-itch cream to the affected area. ...
  3. Take an oral allergy or anti-itch medication. ...
  4. Don't scratch. ...
  5. Take a daily bath or shower.
Oct 28, 2022

What food allergies cause eyelid dermatitis? ›

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are commonly used in skin and hair care products, but can be found in some foods as well. Foods that contain formaldehyde have triggered dermatitis, such as eyelid dermatitis, due to formaldehyde derived from ingested aspartame.

What over-the-counter medicine is good for eyelid dermatitis? ›

Our go-to products include CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser and Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Moisturizer. Additionally, he suggests moisturizing the eyelid skin with petroleum-based products like Vaseline or Aquaphor to help repair the skin barrier.

Which hydrocortisone cream is best for eyelids? ›

The correct answer is D: Hydrocortisone valerate. This patient has allergic contact dermatitis of her eyelids, and a low-potency hydrocortisone ointment such as hydrocortisone valerate is the most appropriate treatment.

Can I put Neosporin on my eyelids? ›

Neosporin Ophthalmic Solution is an antibiotic eye drop used to treat eye infections, such as pink eye or inflammation of your eyelids. It's typically used multiple times per day for 7 to 10 days and it can sometimes cause eye redness or irritation.

What over the counter medicine is good for eyelid dermatitis? ›

Our go-to products include CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser and Vichy Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Moisturizer. Additionally, he suggests moisturizing the eyelid skin with petroleum-based products like Vaseline or Aquaphor to help repair the skin barrier.

How do you get rid of periorbital dermatitis overnight? ›

Experts recommend the use of topical sulphur as a face mask for the treatment of Perioral Dermatitis. Apply on the affected area and leave on for half an hour. Rinse off with warm water. You can even mix the topical sulphur cream with squalane oil and leave on overnight.

What allergy causes eyelid dermatitis? ›

Causes of atopic contact dermatitisCauses of irritant contact dermatitis
pollenextreme humidity or very dry air
latexrubbing or scratching the eyes
rubberinsect bites
plasticchemicals, including chlorine and bleach
9 more rows

How do you get rid of contact dermatitis fast? ›

Lifestyle and home remedies
  1. Avoid the irritant or allergen. The key to this is identifying what's causing your rash and staying away from it. ...
  2. Apply an anti-itch cream or ointment. ...
  3. Take an anti-itch drug. ...
  4. Apply cool, wet compresses. ...
  5. Protect your skin. ...
  6. Soak in a soothing cool bath. ...
  7. Protect your hands.
Oct 8, 2022

Can I put Neosporin on my eyelid? ›

While Neosporin ophthalmic solution is safe to use in and around the eye, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, regular Neosporin is not safe for the area. In fact, it is toxic to the cornea, so it should never be used in or around your eyes.

Can I put cortizone 10 on my eyelid? ›

If your doctor has prescribed hydrocortisone for your face, follow their instructions carefully. Do not put hydrocortisone near your eyes or on your eyelids.

What is safe to put on irritated eyelids? ›

Use a warm compress

"To help relieve eyelid irritation, try applying a warm compress to your eyelids — which can help improve circulation and reduce inflammation," recommends Dr. Malik. "It can also help unclog any clogged oil glands that may be causing your symptoms, as heat melts oil."

Can you put Benadryl cream on your eyelid? ›

Avoid getting the product in your eyes, nose, ears, or mouth.

What is the best home remedy for dermatitis? ›

Put on a cool compress.

Holding a clean, damp cloth against skin can ease itching. Take lukewarm (not hot) showers or baths for no more than 10 or 15 minutes to prevent dry skin. Dry yourself very carefully (pat dry, instead of rubbing hard) and apply moisturizing lotion all over your body.

How can I stop dermatitis from getting worse? ›

Your doctor can prescribe a steroid cream to stop the itch and clear your rash, or topical creams called calcineurin inhibitors like pimecrolimus (Elidel) or tacrolimus (Protopic) that protect your skin and prevent eczema outbreaks. Hydrocortisone cream is available over the counter (OTC) and eases mild itching.

How do you stop contact dermatitis from spreading? ›

  1. Avoid irritants and allergens. Try to identify and avoid the cause of your rash. ...
  2. Wash your skin. ...
  3. Wear protective clothing or gloves. ...
  4. Apply an iron-on patch to cover metal fasteners next to your skin. ...
  5. Apply a barrier cream or gel. ...
  6. Use moisturizer. ...
  7. Take care around pets.
Oct 8, 2022

Can stress cause dermatitis? ›

Stress is one of the most common triggers of atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema. Stress causes a spike in the hormone cortisol, which can lead to flares for people with eczema. In turn, eczema flares can cause additional stress.

Can eye drops cause eyelid dermatitis? ›

Allergic contact dermatitis to eye drop preparations can be one of the most important causes of periorbital dermatitis.


1. Eyelid Dermatitis ¦ Treatment and Symptoms
2. 10 Best Natural Home Remedies for Eczema on Eyelids | how to treat eczema eyelids 2021
(Anatomy note)
(Sasha Little)
4. LIFE UPDATE: Dealing With Eye Eczema/Contact Dermatitis
(Blanca Cruz)
5. Contact Dermatitis Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention | contact eczema
(Anatomy note)
6. Swollen Eyelid: (causes & solutions) - Eye Doctor Explains
(Doctor Eye Health)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated: 02/13/2023

Views: 5860

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.