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What Causes Skin Irritations Around the Eyes & Itching?

What Causes Skin Irritations Around the Eyes & Itching? What Causes Skin Irritations Around the Eyes & Itching? What Causes Skin Irritations Around the Eyes & Itching?

The skin around the eyes is delicate and thin, making inflammation and redness difficult to hide. There are a variety of medical conditions that can cause these frustrating symptoms. Because some are dangerous when left untreated, it is important to understand what causes eye irritations to occur, and know when to seek medical treatment.


The University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center explains that allergies can cause irritation of the eyes. Allergies occur when the body encounters a foreign substance it deems harmful. As a result, the immune system releases high levels of chemical mediators, such as histamine. Common allergens include foods such as peanuts, eggs, shellfish, milk, bee stings, penicillin based medications and latex.

To treat, hold a cool compress to the eyes. Take an over-the-counter antihistamine or vasoconstrictor medication to counteract dilated blood vessels and tearing. In severe cases, a doctor may need to prescribe a topical steroid or mast cell stabilizer such as lodoxamide or cromolyn sodium. These medications help control the immune system's reaction to allergens.


The medical condition blepharitis can cause inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis causes the small oil glands found at the eyelash base to malfunction, resulting in irritation and redness. Blepharitis typically occurs as a symptom of another disease or condition such as rosacea, eyelash mites, bacterial infections or seborrheic dermatitis.

To minimize symptoms, the Mayo Clinic suggests cleansing the entire eye area with a warm washcloth. Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops can help relieve dryness. In addition, a doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or a steroid ointment to treat symptoms. Unfortunately, blepharitis rarely goes away completely. Because relapses commonly occur, repeated treatments may be necessary.


Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the eyelid membranes. It occurs when the eyelids are exposed to irritants, viruses or bacteria. Viral conjunctivitis is contagious and is spread easily. Because it is virus caused, there are few treatment options. To minimize discomfort, apply a warm washcloth to your eyes. Bacterial conjunctivitis, however, can be treated with prescription antibacterial eye drops.

Reduce the spread of conjunctivitis by cleaning your hands often, frequently changing bedding, properly handling contact lenses and keeping your hands away from your infected eyes. In addition, refrain from sharing eye makeup, towels or handkerchiefs.

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