Red, dry, or scaly skin near the eye may indicate eczema, also known as dermatitis. Factors that can affect dermatitis include family history, the environment, allergies, or foreign substances, such as makeup or moisturizers.

Some forms of eczema are chronic, while others go away with treatment. Treatments include home remedies and prescription drugs. You should consult a doctor at once if you have severe eczema near your eye.

Learn about the types of eczema, what can cause the condition, how you can treat it, and other information for staying comfortable in your skin.

There are several types of eczema. Three common types include:

  • Atopic eczema. This type usually affects children under 5 years of age. It affects 20 percent of children and up to 3 percent of adults. It’s long-lasting and caused by a combination of genetic predisposition, the immune system, and the environment.
  • Contact eczema. This can happen when outside agents, such as cosmetics, irritate the skin. It’s a common type of eczema in adults, though anyone can be affected.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis. This is a chronic condition not caused by an allergy or personal care issues. It may stem from other medical conditions, yeast on the skin, stress, or the environment.

All of these forms of eczema can affect the eye area. This can be particularly bothersome because the skin around the eye is thin and sensitive.

Your eyes are a sensitive and vulnerable part of your body.

The skin surrounding them is thin. It has a barrier to block allergens or foreign substances from entering, but in some people this may be impaired. This can lead to sensitivity that causes the eye area to become inflamed, even when other parts of the body are unaffected.

Some symptoms of eczema around the eyes include:

  • itchy, dry skin
  • red, swollen skin
  • thickened skin
  • irritated eyes that may burn and sting
  • raised bumps
  • blisters

People with atopic dermatitis could develop scaly patches and an extra fold of skin under their eyes. Seborrheic dermatitis may result in scales that can flake off.

Similar conditions

Other conditions can cause a rash or irritation around the eyes eczema.

For example, blepharitis is a common inflammatory condition that affects skin on the eyelid. Allergic conjunctivitis affects the outer part of the eye and can flare up during peak allergy seasons.

There are many causes of eczema. The different types flare up for various reasons. Eczema isn’t a contagious condition.

Some factors that may cause atopic eczema include:

  • Family history. You’re more like to have it if you have a family member with eczema, allergies, asthma, or hay fever.
  • Environment. Cold temperatures and pollution can aggravate the condition.

Contact eczema appears after your body comes in contact with an irritant or allergen. Some of these triggers can include:

  • makeup
  • lotions, oils, soaps, and shampoos
  • nickel, which is often found in personal grooming tools like tweezers
  • dust
  • chlorine
  • sunscreen
  • fragrances
  • extreme temperatures
  • humidity

Your eyes may react to a substance you’ve been exposed to before. They may even react to a product you’ve used countless times, especially if the product has changed ingredients.

Any time you think that contact with a particular agent is causing eczema, stop using it immediately.

A doctor should review any cases of eczema around the eyes. During your visit, a doctor will also review any other areas that may have eczema. They’ll ask about your symptoms and record your health history.

Diagnosing eczema doesn’t require any lab tests. If the doctor thinks you have contact eczema, they may ask about the substances you’re exposed to at work and home. They may also ask about any products you use on your skin.

You may need to have a patch test, which exposes the skin to allergens that may be causing the eczema.

Treatments around the eye should be performed with caution. The eye is a sensitive area of the body, and your eyesight might be at risk if you use inappropriate treatment methods.

In all cases of eczema, calming the affected area and eliminating itching is key to treatment.

For atopic eczema, treatment begins with calming the flare-up and then determining a course of action to prevent future ones. Treating contact eczema involves eliminating exposure to the irritating substance.

In most cases, effective treatments should reduce the eczema in 2 to 8 weeks.

Home remedies

There are many home remedies and over-the-counter medications you can try. You should consult your doctor before proceeding. You may need to use multiple treatment methods to clear up your eczema.

You may want to start with home-based treatments for your eczema. Try some of the following options:

It’s tempting to try other homeopathic methods to treat your eczema. However, you should be careful about what substances you apply to your face, particularly near your eyes.

Honey is thought to treat eczema, but you shouldn’t try it without consulting your doctor. Don’t use olive oil because it can damage the thin skin near your eye.

There are also claims that diets and specific vitamins and minerals may help eczema, but there is little medical research backing up these assertions.

Over-the-counter (OTC) treatment

A corticosteroid can treat itching caused by eczema. However, consult your doctor before using it around the eye area.

Antihistamines can help with allergic reactions and may reduce itching and inflammation caused by eczema.

Prescription treatment

Moderate or severe eczema may require a prescription. Severe or persistent eczema needs treatment from a doctor.

There are several topical and oral prescription medications used to treat eczema, although some of them may not be suitable for the eyes. For example, regular or prolonged use of steroid creams may lead to glaucoma, a very serious eye condition.

Some of the options your doctor may prescribe include:

  • topical corticosteroids
  • oral corticosteroids
  • topical calcineurin inhibitors
  • prednisone
  • ultraviolet light therapy

Eczema should always be treated in consultation with your doctor. Some forms of eczema, such as contact eczema, will likely improve after 2 to 8 weeks of treatment.

More chronic eczema, such as atopic and seborrheic dermatitis, will need more extensive treatment to reduce flares.

Incorporating a proper skin care routine into your daily life will help the eczema improve over time.

Many of the home remedies used to treat eczema will also prevent flare-ups.

Make sure you:

  • avoid extreme temperatures
  • keep your skin moisturized with fragrance-free lotions
  • stop using any product that irritates your skin