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.

Psoriasis around your eyes can be treated, but it requires special attention from your doctor.

The tissues in this sensitive area are delicate and easily scarred. Treatments need to be carefully monitored to avoid aggravating the skin and making the condition worse.

The symptoms of psoriasis around the eyes match many of the symptoms of 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

Treatment for psoriasis approaches the condition in two ways: Treatment can ease any symptoms you’re having. It can also help slow the overgrowth of skin cells and reduce inflammation where the buildup occurs.

The main types of treatment available for psoriasis around the eyes are topical treatments, systemic medications, and phototherapy. 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 them can be used on the delicate skin around your eyes, however.

Overuse of some topical treatments around your eyes can also increase your risk of glaucoma and cataracts. For that reason, it’s important to work with your doctor to use topical treatments safely.

Safe treatments that they may recommend include tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel).

Natural and artificial ultraviolet B (UVB) light can help ease the symptoms of psoriasis around the eyes. However, overexposure 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.

Don’t use phototherapy without first talking to your doctor about it.

Your doctor may prescribe oral or injectable medications if other treatments for your psoriasis don’t work.

These medications often have side effects, and this type of treatment isn’t typically used on a long-term basis. Your doctor may only use them for initial treatment of a difficult case of psoriasis.

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

Stress and anxiety can greatly affect your immune system. A compromised immune system may increase your risk of psoriasis.

Infections

People with bacterial or viral infections, such as strep throat or HIV, are more likely to develop psoriasis. This is because their immune systems are compromised.

Obesity

Carrying excess weight increases your risk of developing psoriasis.

A type known as inverse psoriasis shows up as red lesions that are smooth and shiny. It commonly develops in skin folds and creases. The larger your body is, the larger the folds can be.

Smoking

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 to find a treatment plan that eases your symptoms. Some treatment 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.