Red rings around the eyes can be the result of many conditions. You may be aging and your skin is getting thinner around your eyes. You may have come into contact with a substance that causes an allergic reaction or irritation. Or you may have a serious condition that should be managed and treated by your doctor.

Sometimes the condition can be treated at home, while other times it requires medical intervention.

Conditions that cause red rings around the eye can affect people of all ages, and include:


It could be that the red rings around your eyes are related to getting older. Your skin changes as you age. This can result in an altered appearance. For example, it becomes thinner, which could result in discoloration.

You can also bruise more easily because the walls of your blood vessels thin over time.


One cause of red rings around your eyes may be blepharitis. This condition causes inflammation on your eyelids that results in redness. Other symptoms include:

  • itchiness
  • swelling
  • flaking skin
  • watering eyes
  • crusting
  • irritation
  • light sensitivity
  • blurred vision
  • loss of eyelashes

There are a few types of blepharitis as well as several underlying causes of the condition. You can get blepharitis in the base of your eyelashes or in the openings of the meibomian glands.

Learn more about blepharitis.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a condition that develops around your eyes, making them red. This condition occurs when you come into contact with an outside element that triggers an allergic reaction or irritation. The area in and around your eyes can be particularly vulnerable to contact dermatitis because the skin is thin and it comes into contact with many different substances.

All areas surrounding your eye can be susceptible to contact dermatitis. Some of the symptoms of contact dermatitis around the eyes are:

  • redness
  • itchiness
  • stinging
  • burning
  • thickened or scaly skin

Contact dermatitis can affect one or both eyes.

The red rings associated with contact dermatitis may be caused by:

  • bathing and showering products
  • lotions and other moisturizers
  • sunscreen
  • eye drops
  • contact solution
  • dust
  • chlorine and other chemicals
  • makeup
  • hot or cold temperatures
  • humidity or lack of humidity

Keep in mind all products you contact when determining the cause of contact dermatitis near your eye. Your eyes can come into contact with irritants even if you don’t apply them near your eye. This is because your hands may have the substance on them when you rub your eyes.

Learn more about contact dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is another skin condition that can cause redness around the eyes. This condition is also called eczema.

It’s a lifelong condition and most commonly develops in children. Adults can develop it as well, though at much smaller rates. About 15 percent of those with atopic dermatitis experience symptoms of the condition on their eyelids.

The symptoms of atopic dermatitis affect the skin and include:

  • redness
  • rash
  • thickness
  • irritation
  • scaly patches
  • bumps
  • itchiness

Genetics, environmental factors, and your immune system are all reasons why you may develop atopic dermatitis.

Learn more about atopic dermatitis.


Preseptal and orbital cellulitis can cause redness and swelling around the eyelid. This is an infection of the skin in or around your eye. The infection may only affect your skin or it can infiltrate deeper into your body in your tissues and bloodstream.

It is likely that cellulitis will affect only one eye. Some symptoms of cellulitis are:

  • redness
  • pain
  • tenderness
  • swelling
  • bulging of the eye
  • limitation of eye movement
  • vision difficulty
  • fever

You may develop cellulitis around your eye because of:

  • an upper respiratory tract infection like sinusitis
  • trauma or injury
  • an insect bite
  • eczema and other skin conditions
  • impetigo
  • surgery

Cellulitis is not generally contagious, but it’s very serious and requires an immediate visit to the doctor.

Learn more about cellulitis.

Meibomian cyst

You may have a meibomian cyst that is causing redness around the eyes. This is a benign small-sized cyst caused by blocked glands in your eyelid. The cyst alone will not cause pain and irritation, but they can become infected, leading to worsening symptoms and redness around the eye.

Learn more about meibomian cysts.

The treatments for these conditions vary. It may be possible to treat the condition at home or you may need prescriptions from your doctor.

To treat blepharitis

Blepharitis should be diagnosed and treated by your doctor to avoid more serious symptoms like scarring or damage to eye tissue. You also should see a doctor to determine the cause of the condition. You may need treatment for the underlying causes as well as for blepharitis.

Often you can manage blepharitis with proper hygiene. This includes using a washcloth as a warm compress for several minutes at a time and washing the eye with a washcloth and mild soap.

Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic or corticosteroid if the condition is caused by bacteria. You can prevent blepharitis by avoiding rubbing your eyes with dirty hands and removing eye makeup before you go to bed.

To treat contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis should be treated by your doctor to determine the cause.

To treat and manage contact dermatitis you should:

  • avoid contact with any substance that may have triggered the redness
  • only use gentle, unscented cleansers
  • try not to rub or scratch your eyes
  • skip using makeup around your eyes if the condition is flaring

You may find that a cool compress relieves the symptoms of contact dermatitis. Your doctor may recommend using topical or oral corticosteroids to calm any inflammation.

To treat atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis should be managed with the help of your doctor. Your doctor may recommend certain moisturizers or antihistamines to treat the condition.

You may also need a dose of topical corticosteroids or another prescription to clear up symptoms.

To treat cellulitis

Cellulitis requires immediate medical treatment. It is a serious condition that can become worse quickly. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for mild cases of preseptal cellulitis.

More serious cases of cellulitis may require hospitalization and antibiotics administered intravenously.

To treat meibomian cysts

Meibomian cysts may heal on their own after a few months. Applying warm compresses to the cyst may help the condition.

Cysts that don’t heal within a few months should be examined and treated by a doctor. The cyst may have to be drained.

Red rings around the eyes can be the sign of a medical condition. You should track your symptoms and practice good hygiene when experiencing red rings around the eyes. Discussing your symptoms with your doctor will ensure quick and proper treatment.