Eyelid Contact Dermatitis: Challenges and Management Tips

Ashley Wall | Oct 16, 2017

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If you’ve had eyelid contact dermatitis, you’ll understand this analogy. It starts with a little irritation, then next thing you know it’s like you’ve been knocked out by Floyd Mayweather. Eyes become swollen and red, and skin is flaky and raw. Your skin around the eyes is very thin and highly visible, making it vulnerable to dermatitis, and one of the worst types of eczema.

Sadly, the causes of eyelid contact dermatitis are endless. So here are 12 of the most common triggers and how to knock them out.

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Round 1 - Soap/shampoo/conditioner

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Some people have friends. Others have enemies. If you suffer from eyelid contact dermatitis, then soaps, shampoos and conditioners are your frenemies! When harsh ingredients come into contact with our faces, they can strip away our natural oils, causing irritation.

Avoid: Products with too many ingredients listed, including sodium laureate sulfate (SLES) and sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), which are known to cause dry skin.

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Round 2 - Smoke

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Whether its from pollution or a cigarette, smoke is awful for your skin! When you come into contact with smoke, it seeps into your pores which may lead to tearful and/or red eyes.

Avoid: Secondhand smoke and polluted places. And if you have to suffer these places, at least limit your time there, because this exposure will not help your irritated eyelids and skin.

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Round 3 - Dust

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As someone totally allergic to dust mites, I can attest that dust is everywhere! In fact, there’s dust on my keyboard as I type this. The kicker is that household dust is mainly caused by dead skin.

Avoid: Carpeting (especially in the bedroom), fans (they just stir dust around), upholstered furniture (dust magnets), and putting off deep-cleaning.

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Round 4 - Allergies (seasonal, food, pets, pollen, mold)

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Achoo! When the pollen count is high, ragweed is often to blame. Unfortunately that’s just one of many triggers. Whether you’re allergic to a dog, cat, seafood or peanuts, these can lead to itchy eyes.

Avoid: Coming into contact with any allergy triggers - at all costs - and if you simply can’t get away from them, make sure you have proper medicine nearby.

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Round 5 - Extreme Temperatures

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AC units and heaters can cause severe irritation when cranked to extremes.

Avoid: Standing or sitting directly near or underneath an AC or cooling unit.

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Round 6 - Makeup/eye creams/sunblock

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Sunblock and sunscreen are crucial, but they may also play a huge part in breakouts around the sensitive eye area, and makeup is known to cause flare-ups in people with sensitive skin.

Avoid: Wearing makeup/sunblock loaded with chemicals and ingredients you cannot pronounce. Better to go all-natural.

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Round 7 - Chlorine

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For some it’s the chlorine itself, for others it’s the chemical that chlorine releases to kill bacteria when someone pees in the pool. Either way, it can really burn your eyes, leaving you with puffy swollen itchiness. Some may even get conjunctivitis.

Avoid: Swimming in pools that do not have their pH levels properly balanced, and pass on swimming altogether if you have severe reactions.

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Round 8 - Dirty Hands

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We each touch our face hundreds of times each day. Needless to say, our hands are filled with bacteria just waiting to get into our skin.

Avoid: Touching your face with unwashed hands.

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Round 9 - Cleaning Product

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A scrub a dub dub, may cause you to rub. Cleaning products are filled with chemicals so harsh that they can burn or sting your eyes even without direct contact. If this happens, it’s best to go with non-toxic ingredients like distilled white vinegar, or dilute the chemicals you use.

Avoid: Products with heavy odors or toxic chemicals.

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Round 10 - Fragrances

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This is a tricky one, because even if you may not wear perfume or cologne, someone next to you could be.

Avoid: Any fragrant environment, if you can (some workplaces enforce fragrance-free offices). If you can’t, then take an antihistamine or a nasal corticosteroid.

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Round 11 - Glasses / Contacts / Contact solution

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Changing prescriptions for eyeglasses can cause irritation in and around your eyes. Not properly taking care of your glasses or contacts also is risky. They must be cleaned thoroughly and often.

Avoid: Going too long without properly cleaning eyeglass or contact lenses.

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Round 12 - Furniture

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Pet dander, dust mites, mold and even the fabric itself are just some of the reasons why couch-surfing can lead to itchy eyes.

Avoid: Furniture that has irritating fabrics or is easily susceptible to dust buildup.