Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin condition. It can’t be cured, but it can be treated.
Psoriasis occurs when your body’s skin cells build up too quickly because of rapid cell production. The excess production leads to thick, scaly patches on areas of your body. In rare instances, this can include the delicate skin around your eyes.
The condition can appear differently depending on the melanin of your skin (the pigment that gives skin its color).
- Light skin tones. Psoriasis tends to be pink or red on those with light or fair skin tones. The scale is silvery white.
- Medium skin tones. On medium skin tones, it can appear salmon-colored with silvery white scale.
- Dark skin tones. On darker skin tones, psoriasis could look violet- or brown-colored with a grayish scale.
Psoriasis around your eyes can be treated, but it requires special attention from your doctor.
The tissues in this sensitive area are delicate. They can be easily irritated and scarred. Your doctor needs to carefully monitor your treatment to avoid aggravating the skin and making the condition worse.
The psoriasis around your eyes can share many symptoms with psoriasis that affects other areas of the body.
But psoriasis on and around your eyes may impact your daily life more because of its location. For example, the buildup of skin cells may lead to patches so large that you have trouble closing and opening your eyelids.
Other symptoms of psoriasis around the eyes include:
- red, scaly growths in the area
- dry, cracked skin that might bleed
- pain when moving your eyelids
- trouble opening and closing your eyelids
- eyelashes rubbing against the orbit of the eye because scales push the eyelid inward
- eye dryness because scales pull the eyelid outward
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), treatment for psoriasis approaches the condition in two ways. First, treatment can ease any symptoms you’re having. Second, it can help slow the overgrowth of skin cells and reduce inflammation where the buildup occurs.
Your main treatment options for managing psoriasis around your eyes are topical treatments, systemic medications, and phototherapy. Any of these may be used alone, but many doctors recommend a combination of two or all three to treat psoriasis effectively.
You can effectively treat mild cases of psoriasis using several types of creams and ointments. Not all of them are safe to use on the delicate skin around your eyes, however.
In addition, overuse of some topical treatments around your eyes can increase your risk of glaucoma and cataracts. For that reason, it’s important to work with your doctor to use topical treatments safely.
Some of the safe treatments your doctor may recommend include tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel). Treating psoriasis is an off-label use for these medications.
Off-label means that the FDA has approved a medication to treat a certain condition, but that doctors can prescribe them to treat a different condition. In this case, these medications have been approved to treat eczema, but your doctor may prescribe them to treat your psoriasis.
Natural and artificial ultraviolet B (UVB) light can help ease the symptoms of psoriasis around the eyes. But too much exposure to UV or UVB light can worsen psoriasis. It can also increase your risk of skin damage and skin cancer, especially in the delicate skin on your face.
According to the NPF, using sunlight to treat psoriasis is not recommended for everyone. As a treatment for psoriasis, sunlight is not as effective as prescription phototherapy.
Talk with your doctor before you decide to use phototherapy or natural sunlight to treat your psoriasis.
Your doctor may prescribe oral or injectable medications if other treatments don’t work, or if your psoriasis is more severe.
These medications often have side effects. Also, some systemic therapies can‘t be used on a long-term basis. Your doctor will advise you on what systemic treatment is best for you and how long it should be used for.
Certain risk factors can make you more likely to develop psoriasis, including psoriasis around the eyes.
Personal history of psoriasis
If you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis on other parts of your body, your risk of developing it on or near your eyes is higher.
Family history of psoriasis
Your risk for psoriasis increases if a member of your immediate family, such as a parent or sibling, has the condition. Learn more about the effects that genetics has on psoriasis.
Stress and anxiety can greatly affect your immune system. A compromised immune system may increase your risk of psoriasis.
People with bacterial or viral infections, such as strep throat or HIV, may be more likely to develop psoriasis. This is because their immune systems are compromised.
People with obesity can have an increased risk of developing a type of psoriasis known as inverse psoriasis.
This form of psoriasis commonly develops in places on your body where skin rubs against skin, such as your underarms, under your neck, or in skin folds. It shows up as red lesions that are smooth and shiny. The symptoms of inverse psoriasis can be exacerbated by moisture and by the friction of movement.
While inverse psoriasis can affect anybody, especially people who already have other forms of psoriasis elsewhere on their bodies, it can be more common in people who have obesity.
If you smoke, you have an increased risk of developing psoriasis. Additionally, smoking increases the risk that your psoriasis will be severe.
Treatment is available for psoriasis around the eyes. Work with your doctor or another healthcare professional to find a treatment plan that eases your symptoms. Some treatments may lower your chances of developing new plaques in the future.
If your body stops responding to the treatments you’ve used, your doctor may need to adjust your treatment. If this occurs, be sure to follow your new treatment plan closely. The treatment changes may help you continue to reduce your episodes of troublesome and painful psoriasis.