Psoriasis is a common skin condition. It occurs when your body’s skin cells build up too quickly because of rapid cell production. This excess production of skin cells leads to thick, scaly patches on scattered areas of your body. These patches often appear to be white or silver. They also often cause itching and irritation. In some cases, the scales can even be painful.
The skin condition can develop anywhere on your body. This includes your genitals, scalp, and, very rarely, even your eyelids and eyelashes.
Psoriasis around the delicate skin of your eyes can be treated, but it requires special attention to make sure you don’t experience any unwanted complications. The tissues in these sensitive areas are very delicate and easily scarred. Treatments need to be carefully monitored to avoid aggravating the sensitive areas and making the condition worse.
The signs of psoriasis around the eyes match many of the signs and symptoms of psoriasis elsewhere on your body. Psoriasis on and around your eyes, though, may impact your daily life much more significantly because of its location. For example, the buildup of skin cells may lead to patches of skin so large that you have difficulty closing and opening your eyelids. Other signs and symptoms of psoriasis around the eyes include:
- red, scaly growths around your eyes
- dry, cracked skin that might bleed
- painful sensations when moving your eyelids
- difficulty opening and closing your eyelids
- eyelashes rubbing against the orbit of the eye because scales are pushing the eyelid inward
- eye dryness because scales are pulling the eyelid outward
Treatment for psoriasis approaches the condition in two ways. First, you will likely want a treatment option to ease any signs or symptoms you’re experiencing. Secondly, you’ll look for a treatment option that helps slow the overgrowth of skin cells and reduces inflammation where the buildup occurs.
The three main types of treatment available for psoriasis around the eyes are topical treatments, systemic medications, and light therapy. One of these treatments may be used alone, but many doctors recommend a combination of two or all three to treat psoriasis effectively.
Several types of creams and ointments can effectively treat mild cases of psoriasis. Not all of these can be used on the delicate skin around your eyes, however. Overuse of some topical treatments around your eyes can increase your risk of glaucoma and cataracts. For that reason, it’s important you work with your doctor to carefully use topical treatments in a safe manner.
Phototherapy (Light Therapy)
Natural and artificial ultraviolet (UV) light can help ease the signs and symptoms of psoriasis around the eyes. However, overexposure to UV light can worsen psoriasis. It can also increase your risk of skin damage and even skin cancer, especially in the delicate skin on your face. Do not attempt to use phototherapy without first talking to a doctor.
Oral and injected medicines may be used when psoriasis is resistant to other types of treatment. These medications often have side effects, so your doctor may only use them to treat a difficult case of psoriasis initially. This type of treatment will likely not be used for management of the condition on a long-term basis.
Certain people are more likely to develop psoriasis around the eyes because of these risk factors:
If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis on other parts of your body, your risk of developing the scales and clusters on your eyes is higher.
If an immediate family member has psoriasis, your risk of also developing the condition increases.
Stress and anxiety can greatly impact your immune system. A compromised immune system may increase your risk of psoriasis.
People with viral or bacterial infections, such as HIV or strep throat, are more likely to develop the skin condition because their immune systems are compromised.
Carrying excess weight increases your risk of developing psoriasis. Plaques commonly develop in skin folds and creases. The larger your body is, the larger the folds can be.
If you are a smoker, you have an increased risk of developing psoriasis. Additionally, smoking increases the risk that your psoriasis will be severe.
Psoriasis is a chronic, or long-term, condition. It cannot be cured, but it can be treated. You will need ongoing checkups and reviews to make sure your treatments and lifestyle changes are effective. If things change or your body stops responding to the treatments you have used, your doctor may need to adjust your treatment to help you continue to reduce your episodes of troublesome and painful psoriasis.
Seeing a Doctor
Psoriasis may cause feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment. For individuals with psoriasis on their arms or legs, sleeves and pants can do a great job of easing that feeling. When the condition is present on your face, however, you aren’t left with many choices. The good news is you can find help. Your doctor can work with you to find a treatment that eases your signs and symptoms and possibly lowers your chances of developing new plaques in the future.