What is eczema around the eyes?
There are different types of eczema, although the most common form is atopic eczema. While it is more frequent in children, it can continue into adulthood. Eczema causes the skin to dry out and become itchy, red and cracked. It is a chronic condition, which means it is usually recurs long term. If you have eczema you may find that it affects the area around your eyes. This is because the condition is most common in places where there are folds of skin.
Eczema around the eyes will often worsen if you rub the irritated area. Other factors that may cause a flare-up include the consumption of certain foods, weather conditions and stress or anxiety.There appears to be a genetic component to eczema, with the condition running in families. It also often occurs alongside other conditions such as hay fever or asthma.If you have eczema around your eyes, you will also be more prone to blepharitis. This is a condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids, making them severely red and swollen.
There is also a fairly rare disorder called atopic keratoconjunctivitis (ATK). This is a severe eye allergy that can result in cataracts, eye infections and even blindness.While normal eye eczema will not affect the eye and vision itself, ATK can damage the cornea and cause scarring. Common triggers include dust, foods and dead skin cells from animals.
Are there treatments for eye eczema?
Eczema is usually treated with emollients - otherwise known as moisturising treatments - or topical corticosteroids. You may also be advised to stop using soaps, as these dry out the skin, and avoid irritants. There are many different types of emollients, with some acting as bath additives and others coming in creams or ointments. They should be applied frequently, with many people benefiting from using them at least three or four times a day.Emollients help by:
- Reducing scaling
- Softening cracks
- Preventing itching
- Holding in moisture
- Helping other creams to enter the skin
Topical corticosteroids may also be prescribed. Their main purpose is to stop skin irritation and inflammation, although it is important to get the right strength steroid for the skin around your eyes. This is because the skin of the eyes and face is fairly thin and the wrong steroid could cause side effects such as burning, thinning of the skin and increased risk of infections. Be sure not to get any topical corticosteroid cream into the eye. Your local doctor or optometrist will provide you with further advice on a suitable treatment plan.