Why Are Your Eyelids So Itchy?

Itching eyelids can cause a lot of discomfort and the causes vary from sunburn to Eczema or allergy. Whatever it is, know your cause and get it treated soon.

Your eyelids work as a protective layer to keep your eyes from injury or debris. However, the skin on your eyelids is highly sensitive and can easily get irritated. And irritated eyelids can often cause itchiness, which can cause a great deal of discomfort and in serious conditions even endanger your vision. Itching on eyelid can be the result of many skin condition, both acquired and genetic, infection and allergies. Some are easily treated while others many need ongoing measures to manage the symptoms.

Conditions That Cause Puffy and Itchy Eyelids

There are various conditions that can lead to itchy and swollen eyelids. These include the following:

1. Blepharitis (Eyelid Inflammation)

Blepharitis or inflammation of the eyelids is a common condition that can cause redness and swelling of the eyelids. About one in twenty eye problems seen by general practitioners have itchy and puffy eyelids due to blepharitis. It is common in adults aged 50 and above, although it is seen at any age.

Accompanying symptoms include burning, stinging or soreness in the eyes and crusting in the eyelashes. The infection may be caused by bacteria, or it may be secondary to seborrheic dermatitis (an itchy skin rash) or rosacea (a condition characterized by a red, blotchy face). Blepharitis is not contagious but it is a chronic or recurrent condition.

Treatments: There is no permanent cure for this condition, but having a daily eye hygiene routine can reduce the symptoms. In severe cases, antibiotics may be required.

2. Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

An eye infection or conjunctivitis often manifests in kids as a pink eye. However, the condition can affect adults as well. It is characterized by itching, swelling, watery eyes, with some stinging or burning pain and eye discharge. You may also have itchy eyelids. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious but bacterial or viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious.

Treatments: It is best to see a doctor for advice on treatment. Meanwhile you should avoid rubbing your eyes and make sure that you wash your hands to avoid contamination.

  • You can relieve the itching and pain on the eyes due to allergic conjunctivitis by using a cool, damp compress over the eyelids.
  • Treatment of allergic conjunctivitis involves management of your allergy. Antibiotic medication, in the form of eye drops, is usually effective for treating bacterial conjunctivitis.
  • However, viral conjunctivitis goes away on its own, although some doctors prescribe mild antibiotic eye drops to prevent bacterial infection. You can relieve the itchiness associated with viral/bacterial conjunctivitis by applying a warm compress to your eyelids.

3. Eye Stye

An eye stye is an eyelid bump caused by an inflammation or bacterial infection of an oil gland on the edge of the eyelid. It appears like a pimple and is often tender to touch. Styes often develop over a few days and may heal on their own. However, they may also enlarge and cause trouble with vision or become fully blocked, developing into a chalazion. Other accompanying symptoms include gritty, foreign body sensation in the eye, increased sensitivity to light, tearing and tenderness in the eyelid.

Treatments: To treat the stye at home, apply a warm, damp cloth to the eyelid for ten minutes about four times a day. Do not squeeze a stye. It will drain on its own. Avoid using contact lenses or eye make-up until the stye has healed. If infected, the doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic and drain the stye.

4. Eczema

One of the common causes of puffy and itchy eyelids is eczema, a skin disorder that is thought to result from an allergy, and can affect any part of the body, including the eyelids. While an outbreak may be tolerable on other parts of the body, symptoms when the eyelids are affected are often intolerable. Because the skin on the eyelid is thin and very sensitive to irritants, eczema may cause you to rub the eyelids, which can irritate the eyeball. This can result in an eye infection, which is dangerous.

Treatments: Moisturizers can protect the skin from eczema, and if these are ineffective, a topical medication may be applied.

5. Eye Allergies

Seasonal allergies can affect the eyes and cause puffy and itchy eyelids. It can also be brought about when some irritant or allergen enters the eye. Symptoms include itchy red eyes, watery eyes and puffy eyelids. Seasonal allergy problems may occur in spring and fall, although many people experience allergies all year round because of molds or dust mites.

Treatments: For any type of allergy treatments usually consist of relieving the symptoms and avoid contact with allergens.

  • To treat allergy symptoms you can apply a cold, damp compress over the closed eyelids or take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine. Over-the-counter eye drops, artificial tears and saline rinses are used to rinse out allergens from the eyes. Eye drops which block histamine and shrink the eye blood vessels are likewise available, but they must be used sparingly, avoiding overuse since these can irritate your eyes more.
  • To avoid those eye allergy symptoms, wash your hands as frequently as possible and keep them from rubbing the eyes. Close your house and car windows and put on the air condition during the pollen season. Try to stay indoors especially when the wind carrying pollen is blowing during mornings and evenings. Wearing sunglasses or your regular glasses can prevent dust and pollen from entering your eyes.

6. Sunburn

Staying out too long under the sun can get not only the body but the eyes sunburned too. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause dry, itchy eyes, tearing, red eyes, and increased sensitivity to light.

Treatments: To avoid sunburn in the eyes, protect the eyes by wearing caps or sun hats, UV sun glasses and contact lenses with UV protection. Protect the skin with creams and lotions containing appropriate SPF. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. Wash the eyes with clean water.

7. Contact Dermatitis

Any direct contact with an inciting substance can lead to an inflammatory skin condition called contact dermatitis. Usually affecting your eyelids, contact dermatitis can be divided into two categories – irritant type and allergic type.

  • You have allergic contact dermatitis when any exposure to a substance triggers an allergic reaction. This type of contact dermatitis is usually the result of exposure to airborne allergens, such as pet dander, pollen, mold spores, dust mite debris, and antibiotic ointment.
  • You have irritant contact dermatitis when exposure to a substance leads to a non-allergic inflammatory reaction. You may develop it because of facial cosmetics, perfumes, nail polish, artificial nails, hair care products, and eye drops.

When you have contact dermatitis of the eyelids, you may experience symptoms such as itchiness, redness, and a fine scaly rash. Some people may also develop dark circles around the eyes.

Treatments: Avoiding exposure to certain substances is the main treatment option, but you may also benefit from anti-inflammatory eye drops and antihistamines.

8. Ocular Rosacea

This chronic disorder can cause swelling and redness of the skin. It usually affects your face, but some people may have reddened scalp, ears, back, neck, and chest as well. About half of all rosacea patients also experience issues with eyes – this condition is then called ocular rosacea. Some of the most common symptoms of ocular rosacea are burning, itching, redness, excessive tearing, and eye discharge. Some people may have blurry vision as well.

Treatments: Use of warm compresses may help, but sometimes you also need to use eyelid scrubs to treat ocular rosacea. Some people may have to take oral antibiotics and use artificial tears to manage ocular rosacea in a better way.

9. Other Conditions

Other disorders which may lead to puffy itchy eyelids include:

  • Seborrheic keratosis, an itchy outgrowth coming from the eyelid that needs surgical removal;
  • Actinic keratosis, a skin lesion caused by UV light from sun exposure;
  • Warts, harmless outgrowths on the skin caused by a virus, which need surgical removal to relieve irritation on the eyelids.

When to See a Doctor

It is really challenging to find the exact cause of itching eyelids as the symptoms of these issues are quite similar. And the eyes are sensitive organs and are vulnerable to injury which can lead to complications. If you have puffy itchy eyelids, it is best to avoid rubbing the eyes with your hands and to consult a doctor if you experience frequent itchiness and it keeps coming back or worsening. Other signs that prompt an immediate medical attention include spreading swelling or redness around eyes, eye pain, blurred vision or pussy eye discharge.

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