Eye eczema is a bit trickier to deal with than eczema on other parts of the body.
First of all, what exactly is eye eczema?
Thankfully, we don't actually get eczema IN our eyes; just around the eyes and on the eyelids. But since those areas are so close to our eyes, it requires extreme caution when treating.
Reasons for Getting Eczema on Eyes
1. Continually rubbing or scratching the itchy skin around the eyes
Scratching my eyes comes with the whole facial eczema territory. I almost can't seem to help myself. It starts with rubbing my forehead, then I enter into this trance where I am not satisfied until every inch of my face has been scratched (fortunately, it doesn't happen that often).
2. Actual allergies that cause the eyes to swell up and become itchy
Many people who have eczema also have allergies to dander, pollen, mold, and dust. Those allergens cause red, itchy, and swollen eyes. Since the first reaction to itchy eyes is to usually rub on them, people with sensitive skin might develop rash around their eyes.
Anyone who has ever had itchy eyes can probably attest to this; rubbing your eyes actually make them itchier. At least with scratching the other parts of the skin, the itch sometimes subsides, albeit temporarily. That doesn't seem to be the case with itchy eyes.
Consequences of Eczema Eyes
1. Horrible appearance
This is rather obvious, but eye eczema makes you look more terrible than having eczema anywhere else. It's because when people look at someone's face, they naturally gravitate towards the eyes. If the eyes look swollen and puffy, that's going to invite some unpleasant reactions.
2. Poor eye health
According to American Academy of Family Physicians, about 4 to 12% of patients with atopic dermatitis develop a type of cataracts. It is thought to be a side-effect of using topical steroids used around the eyes, and also oral steroid therapy (e.g. prednisone).
Though not common, excessive eye-rubbing as a result of itchy eyes can lead to keratoconus, which is an eye condition that thins the shape of the cornea (dome-shaped normally).
How to Deal with Itchy Eyes and Surrounding the Skin
1. Over-the-counter (OTC) Eye Drops
The goal is to reduce the itching associated with allergies, so it would lead to the decreased chance of scratching. OTC eye drops such as Zaditor or Alaway are specifically designed for reducing histamine that causes itchiness in the eyes. If the eyes themselves don't get itchy, the likelihood of eczema developing around the eyes as a result of scratching can be minimized.
2. Cold compress
This usually works for eczema on eyelids. I use a cold soda can or wrap ice in a cloth to put it over my eyes.
3. Avoiding the irritants
This might be hard for the fashion-conscious (especially women), but strong eye makeup should be discouraged, at least until the rash goes away. I can't imagine too many people who would even use eye makeup when their condition is at its worst, but it always helps to evaluate the products you are using to make sure they are not causing the itchiness.
If all the default causes of eye eczema are removed, it is likely that you suffer from the same affliction I have - scratching just for the hell of it. It's a deep ingrained habit that could be hard to break. It would be most beneficial to use some sort of a behavior modification.
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