Eyelid rashes. It is something we here at Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Associates see on almost a daily basis. Often, it is an allergic reaction to some product you use regularly and may have even used for years. Eyelid skin is so thin, it can break out into a rash while the rest of your face appears unaffected. I absolutely love the times I can sleuth out the culprit on your first office visit. But sadly, I hate to admit, these Sherlock Holmes moments are rare at our dermatology clinic serving Naperville and surrounding areas.
Why are these moments rare? Because there are thousands upon thousands of irritants and allergens. We are not born with allergies; we develop them over time. So any chemical, fragrance, preservative, or ingredient can cause an allergic reaction. Even that glittery, bright blue Revlon® eye shadow you have been sporting daily since first watching Dynasty 30 years ago might be to blame.
So how are your eyelids exposed to allergens and irritants besides the obvious? Here are some things to consider:
- Airborne droplets: Think perfumes, air fresheners (sprays and plug-ins), scented candles, hairspray, and household cleaners. If you can smell it, your eyelids are most likely wearing it.
- Chemicals carried from your hands to your eyes: Did you know the average person touches their face at least 16 times an hour? Nail polish is the No. 1 cause of eyelid dermatitis in North America (congrats OPI!). But it could be anything: hand lotions, hand soaps, glues, chemicals, paints, or allergens in foods, to name a few.
- Chemicals washing over your eyelids: Have you ever read the ingredient list on the back of your favorite hair care product? These are some of the most chemically complex products we use. They are loaded with stuff to make them last longer on the shelf, smell pretty, and make our hair do things God didn’t intend. If these products are not thoroughly rinsed off your eyelids, they essentialy sit, occluded, under the natural folds of our eye, wreaking havoc.
- And the obvious, things you apply directly or near on your eyelid: This includes makeup, various eye creams, makeup remover, and glue from false eyelashes. Keep in mind the anti-aging night cream or acne medication you use every night might make it’s way from your cheeks to your eyelids while you sleep accidentally.
So with so many potential causes, what is one to do? After considering the things listed above, try to eliminate anything in your life that you think might be a culprit. (You can always re-introduce things you miss later, one product at a time). Apply Vaseline® multiple times a day to the irritated area. If the rash or irritation persists after 1 to 2 weeks, call to make an appointment. A prescription cream may be needed to effectively soothe the skin. We provide patch testing for a number of allergens in our office.
Not every eyelid rash is allergic in nature, and other skin conditions may be to blame. We here at DPSA can help properly diagnosis, treat, and tailor a skin care plan just for you. We understand how dramatic and frustrating eyelid rashes can be, and we are here to help. Hopefully it is not your electric blue eye shadow, because rumor has it that it’s coming back into style — yikes!