Eyelid dermatitis is a common condition that causes the skin on or around the eyelid to become dry, itchy, and irritated.

The term may refer to eczema, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis on the eyelids. When the cause is an allergen or irritant, the condition is called eyelid contact dermatitis.

Discussed below are ways on how to manage eyelid dermatitis, using treatments and home remedies. It also looks at the symptoms and causes of the condition.

Types and causes

Common forms of eyelid dermatitis include:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis develops because of an allergic reaction that causes inflammation of the skin, such as pollen in a person with hay fever. Some cosmetic products or metals, such as nickel, are common causes of allergic skin reactions.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by the eyelid coming into direct contact with a substance that damages the outer layer of the skin, such as certain types of makeup, soaps, and detergents.
  • Atopic dermatitis is a form of eczema that can affect the eyelids.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis is a common condition that causes the skin to become inflamed and flakey. It often occurs on the scalp but can also affect oily areas of skin, such as the eyelids.

It is unclear what causes conditions such as atopic dermatitis, though there seems to be a genetic component, and it can run in families.


Dermatitis on the eyelids causes inflammation of the thin, sensitive skin around the eyes. The eyelids become irritated, swollen, dry, and reddened. It can affect one or both of the eyes.

If this condition persists, the eyelids can become thickened in a process called lichenification.

When caused by an irritant or allergen, symptoms typically occur within a few hours or days of contact with a trigger substance. Symptoms should subside when the trigger substance is removed.


For all kinds of eyelid dermatitis, people should keep the eye area clean and avoid touching it or scratching. This helps to prevent further irritation or infection.

Where possible, it is helpful to identify and avoid contact irritants and allergens that can cause flare-ups. These can include:

  • certain makeup brands
  • sunscreens
  • perfumes
  • swimming goggles
  • eye drops
  • false eyelashes
  • contact lens solution
  • airborne allergens

To treat eyelid dermatitis caused by atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis, and for immediate relief from symptoms, a person can:

  • Moisturize. Moisturizing creams can relieve dryness and itching. A wide range of creams is available with and without prescription. They are most effective for treating mild dermatitis.
  • Use calcineurin inhibitors. This medication is used to treat inflammatory disorders, including atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. It can be applied as cream or taken orally. It should be used with caution, as it may suppress immune function. Calcineurin inhibitors are available to purchase in pharmacies, health stores, and online.
  • Use corticosteroids. Steroid-based creams can be applied directly to the eyelids to treat inflammation and reduce dryness. For widespread cases of dermatitis or eczema, corticosteroids can be taken in tablet form. The strength of the medication depends on the severity of the symptoms. Corticosteroids are available to purchase in pharmacies and online.

People should use corticosteroid creams cautiously as they can lose some of their effectiveness if applied for too long. When used close to the eye, there is a risk of glaucoma if used for long periods of time.

These creams can also induce certain short-term side effect, such as acne, hair growth on the treated areas, and thinning of the skin.

Corticosteroid tablets are reserved for the most severe symptoms, as their side effects can be serious. Possible effects include high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.