Itchy, Flaky Skin Around the Eyes
Dry, itchy skin can can have many causes, from exposure to severe weather conditions to hormonal changes. Several conditions, including allergies, inflammation and viral or bacterial infections, specifically cause itchy, flaky skin around the eyes and especially on the eyelids. The source of the problem may be a medical condition within the eye itself that affects the skin around the eye. Although some of these conditions are chronic, treatments are available to reduce or eliminate the symptoms.
Red, flaky skin on the eyelids, near the eyelashes, may be a sign of seborrheic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the face and scalp. It commonly begins as dandruff and then appears as yellow, white or gray-colored flakes wherever there are facial folds, such as the eyes, sides of the nose and behind the ears.
Blepharitis, a common and chronic eye infection, affects the eyelids as well as the eyes, and causes itching burning, swelling and redness around the edge of the eye. Blepharitis may be caused by a staphylococcal infection and is sometimes associated with seborrheic dermatitis
Preservatives and fragrances used in make-up can cause allergic swelling and flaking of the eyelid and the skin around the eye. Make-up that is old or contaminated can carry bacteria that leads to eye and skin infections. Sharing make-up can transfer infectious bacteria from one person to another.
Seborrheic dermatitis and blepharitis are chronic conditions that sometimes occur in childhood but can also develop for the first time in adults. Although treatable, these conditions often continue to flare up throughout the course of a lifetime. Contact allergies that cause dry itchy skin around the eyes, such as those that result from using contaminated make-up, generally do not persist after treatment and discontinued use of the product.
Treatment of dry, itchy skin around the eyes depends on the specific condition. Treating seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp with dandruff shampoo sometimes helps to clear up nearby skin outbreaks. Flaky skin on the eyelids can be treated with a swabbing of baby shampoo. Flaking of the skin around the eye and near the eyebrows may be treated with mild steroid creams.
Blepharitis is treated with regular cleaning of the eyelids and application of warm, moist compresses. If the cause of blepharitis is suspected to be bacterial infection of a gland, antibiotic treatment may be required.
Allergic, or contact, dermatitis, resulting from exposure to cosmetic ingredients or other irritants, is treated with mediations such as antihistamines, glucocorticoids and sometimes antibiotics, as well as compresses and topical emollients.
The actual cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown, so doctors do not know how to prevent the condition. Since blepharitis often occurs in people who have oily hair and skin or who do not wash their hair often, this condition can sometimes be prevented by practicing good hygiene that includes frequent hair and skin cleaning. Contact dermatitis from exposure to allergens or irritants in cosmetics can be prevented by avoiding the offending cosmetic, not sharing make-up and frequently replacing make-up, especially eye make-up, to avoid using contaminated products.
People with severe atopic dermatitis can develop eye complications, such as a damaged cornea, as a result of constant hard rubbing of the eyelids to relieve itching. If itchy, flaky skin around the eyes is severe, and especially if it is accompanied by eye watering, burning and discharge, a dermatologist or ophthalmologist should be contacted immediately.
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