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Allergic Eyelid Problems

What causes allergic eyelid problems?

Allergy of the eyelids is a common condition. The two most common types are contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is caused by direct contact with certain allergens. Women may suffer from this problem due to allergic reactions to preservatives in eyecare products and makeup. Common examples include eye creams, eyeliner, eye pencils, mascara, and nail polish (caused by rubbing the eye with the fingers). Other irritants include over the counter and prescription medications (neomycin or Bacitracin), as well as contact lens solutions.

Atopic dermatitis is caused by a more systemic reaction to allergens including pollen, pet dander, mold spores and dust mites. Food allergies may also cause atopic dermatitis. Unlike contact dermatitis, which primarily affects the upper eyelids, atopic dermatitis typically involves both the upper and lower eyelids. In many cases skin in other parts of the body may also be affected.

What are the symptoms of eyelid allergy?

Symptoms appear 1 to 2 days after exposure to the allergen. The eyelids may become swollen and red, may feel itchy and possibly form blisters. The white of the eye may also become red and watery. The lids may become chronically inflamed and thickened if they are continually in contact with the offending agent.

How is this treated?

The best treatment for eyelid allergies is avoiding the sensitizing agent. Changing to hypoallergenic lens solutions, cosmetics, or topical eye products is usually necessary. Application of a mild topical corticosteroid cream for short periods will also likely help. It is also important to treat any secondary bacterial infection that may develop.