Causes And Treatment Of Eyelid Eczema
Although we may not hear too much about eyelid eczema, it is not all that uncommon. Eczema is a disorder of the skin, one which can be difficult to treat, and the symptoms of which can vary from mild to quite severe. Eczema is usually triggered by the presence of allergens in the environment or atmosphere. A person suffering from eczema does not necessarily experience the symptoms on an on-going basis, but more typically as flare ups when certain irritants or allergens are present.
Eczema is characterized by red, itchy, and sometimes flaky skin. Most people who have the disorder experience it only on certain parts of the body. Knees and elbows are common locations, as is the forehead or side of the face near the hairline. Arms and legs are other common locations, but the disorder can be present in almost any location on the skin's surface.
While we can tolerate an itchy elbow, though it may not be much fun, an itchy eyelid can be a different story. Eyelid eczema is a more serious problem for several reasons. (1) The affected skin is in immediate proximity to the eye, and rubbing the eyelid to ease the itching or burning may irritate the eye itself. (2) The skin of the eyelid is thinner and much more sensitive to potential irritants than is the skin elsewhere on the body. (3) If the symptoms become bad enough, they can become almost intolerable, affecting a person's work, social life, and quality of life in general.
Finding The Cause Can Be A Challenge - Since eyelid eczema and eczema in general is in essence an allergic reaction to something, there is always the possibility it can be prevented. It is hard to prevent something however, when you don't know what that something is. People who suffer allergies of any kind, often have to submit to a battery of tests to determine what they are allergic to, and consequently what they need to avoid. Some allergens, such as dust and pollen, can be nearly impossible to avoid unless you stay locked in your room all day (keep it dust free). Coming into contact with atmospheric or environmental allergens won't necessarily cause eyelid eczema of course, but such allergens are always potential sources. Still, you do what you can, keeping your home clean and dust-free for example, and if you have a known problem with eczema, flare ups can often be minimized.
If you are a frequent user of facial cosmetics, there is always the chance than one of the ingredients in a particular problem could be causing flareups. If you suffer an occasional flareup and think back as to what type or brand of cosmetic you may have been using at the time, you might have a clue as to what you should stop using and in doing so perhaps eliminate or minimize the eczema flare ups. Acrylate's in hair spray, certain fragrances, and chlorides in mascara are all suspect when any list of potential allergens is compiled.
Moisturizing As A First Step - Frequent use of a moisturizer is almost always a good step in treating the condition. Before undergoing formal treatment however, the condition you have needs to be diagnosed as being eczema. There are many skin disorders, and some of them are similar to eczema, rosacea being one example. Different disorders often call for differences in treatment, and the wrong treatment may not do you any good, or in some cases, even make the problem worse. Moisturizers are generally quite safe though, and will be helpful if a symptom of your eyelid eczema is flaky or dry skin.
Topical Treatments - Once a diagnosis confirms the disorder to be eczema, corticosteroids are often applied topically to the eyelid. The action of the cortisone in particular is very good at keeping inflammation under control, and definitely provides relief. When used over a long period of time however, a side effect of applying corticosteroids is thinning of the skin. This is not highly desirable in an area such as the eyelid, where the skin is thin and sensitive to begin with. The symptoms may have been successfully treated, but the disorder hasn't necessarily been eliminated. A more recently introduced group of topical drugs called immunomodulators are more hopeful in that they have no known adverse side effects. These drugs counteract the immune system's activity causing inflammation in the affected area.
In summary, eyelid eczema is a tough customer to deal with. Treatment tends to be long term, but given the proper topical drugs, can be very effective. One can certainly help one's own cause by taking steps to try and find out which allergens may be the cause of flare ups, so inflammation and itching can be avoided, or be made to occur less frequently.