How to treat contact dermatitis around the eye area

Written by laura bramble
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Contact dermatitis is a red rash that results from contact with a skin irritant or an allergic reaction. The resulting rash can be swollen or oozing, with bumps, scaling or itching. Occasionally the rash will disappear by itself in a day or two, but most cases of contact dermatitis require some form of treatment to heal. The skin around the eye is particularly delicate, so a substance that does not irritate the skin anywhere else on your face or body may cause a rash on your eyelids. Sometimes a rash forms shortly within first contact with a substance; other times it results from prolonged and repeated contact.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Figure out the source of the irritation or allergy. Think back to anything that you may have applied to the area, like an eye cream or sunscreen, or anything that was on your hands when you may have touched your eye. Detergents or fabric softeners used on pillowcases may also be culprits. Once you've come up with some suspects, stop contact between the substance and the area around your eyes.

  2. 2

    Avoid touching your eye area with your hands. If you must touch them, wash your hands with soap and water first.

  3. 3

    Do not scratch the rash or you risk getting an infection in the area.

  4. 4

    Use only mild cleansers and creams on the area that are free of perfumes and dyes. Do not use any anti-ageing creams, harsh cleansers or eye make-up removers. Avoid using cosmetics on the rash, if possible.

  5. 5

    Apply a moisturising hydrocortisone cream to the area to cut down itching and to soothe the skin.

  6. 6

    Place a cool moist gauze compress on the area to relieve itching or burning.

  7. 7

    Try using a freshly cut slice of cucumber on the area, letting the natural juice moisten the area before applying any moisturiser or cream. It will soothe the area and reduce redness.

  8. 8

    See a doctor for severe cases that do not show signs of healing or that are spreading. They may require a prescription cream, or an oral antihistamine or corticosteroids.

Tips and warnings

  • Common irritating substances used around the eye include acids such as alpha hydroxy or glycolic acid, solvents, cleaning chemicals, detergents, perfumes, cosmetics and plants.

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