What to Know About Eczema on Eyelids

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on April 30, 2023
3 min read

Eczema is a painful and uncomfortable skin condition. When it affects your eyelids, it leaves you at risk for other, more serious skin conditions as well as eye damage. Learn how you can treat eczema on your eyelids and protect yourself from future skin damage.

Eczema is most frequently diagnosed in children under 5. It is a lifelong condition that has no cure. Over time, your eczema breakouts may calm and disappear, flaring up when an irritant is introduced to your skin.

Both children and adults are susceptible to eczema. Seborrhoeic dermatitis of the eyelids may only affect your eyelids, whereas other types of eczema may spread from your face onto your eyelids. Your eyelids are especially prone to eczema because the skin around your eyes is so thin and sensitive.

Some external irritants may make your eczema worse, like:

  • Airborne dust
  • Pollen 
  • ‌Eyelash curlers
  • Eyeliner
  • Makeup remover
  • Makeup brushes and pads
  • Eye shadow
  • Face cream and lotion
  • Hair dye
  • Hand products

Eczema may look similar to other skin conditions. Before self-treating, talk to your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing, which may include: 

  • Dry skin
  • Itching that worsens at night
  • Patches that appear red or brown and gray
  • Tiny raised bumps that leak fluid when scratched or irritated
  • Skin that grows thick and scaly, even forming scabs 
  • Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching

You should see a doctor if your eczema:

  • Is so painful or uncomfortable that you lose sleep and can’t function during the day
  • Causes a skin infection with open sores, scabs, and oozing yellow pus
  • Remains persistent despite home remedies 

These are all signs of infection. If your condition worsens, it could lead to other health conditions.

Taking care of your skin condition is the best way to improve your symptoms and gain some relief. Moisturize your skin at least twice a day using:

  • Creams
  • Ointments
  • Lotions
  • Petroleum jelly

It may take some trial and error to find a product that works best for you. Since the skin around your eyes is sensitive, try something mild. Talk to your doctor about what ingredients you should avoid and check all product labels for those ingredients before making a purchase.

In addition to moisturizing, it is important to avoid irritants like: 

  • Sweat
  • Stress
  • Strong soaps
  • Laundry detergents
  • Dust and pollen

‌Keep in mind that the products your family uses also affect your skin. If you hug them, lotions, perfumes, and detergents may rub off on your skin. Try your best to eliminate irritants completely from your home.

In some cases, food allergens cause eczema flare-ups. You may need to cut something out of your diet like:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Wheat‌

You can also try:

  • Shortening your time in the bath or shower
  • Using warm instead of hot water
  • Taking a bleach bath once or twice a week to kill bacteria
  • Using gentle soaps with mild ingredients
  • Avoiding antibacterials and deodorants 
  • Applying moisturizer while your skin is still damp from the shower 

Having eczema can put you at higher risk for developing other conditions. Eczema leaves your skin raw, leaving you more susceptible to bacteria entering your bloodstream. Skin conditions that commonly affect those with eczema on eyelids include: 

  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis). Pink eye is characterized by redness on the whites of your eyes, itchiness, sensitivity to light, watering that doesn’t cease, and the presence of a sticky substance that crusts.
  • Inflamed cornea (keratitis). When your cornea is inflamed, your eyeball becomes infected, leading to pain and discomfort, watering, and sensitivity to light. Your cornea may change shape because of the infection, leading to changes in your vision.
  • Nearsightedness. Permanent changes to your vision can occur, like nearsightedness, which affects your ability to see either close-up or far away.
  • Blurry vision. Your cornea should be round. When the shape distorts, it changes how you see things by distorting images to the degree of your damage. 
  • Sensitivity to light. You may suddenly have difficulty driving at night when it is dark. Alternately, you may feel extra sensitivity to the sun.  

‌While eczema cannot be completely cured, there are many treatment options. If one treatment plan doesn’t work, you can try another until you find the right products and strategies for your personal health.