If ... your dermatologist, allergist, or ophthalmologist has diagnosed you with allergic reactions of the eyelids, the information below will provide more guidance on what substances to avoid and how to avoid them.
What is allergic contact dermatitis (ACD)? Why is it so hard to diagnose?
ACD is a type of allergic reaction. In this type of allergy, a substance contacts the skin, and later results in a rash. The rash from poison ivy is one example. The rash classically occurs 2-3 days later, but it may happen just a few hours later, or one week later. This delay is what makes ACD so hard to figure out.
Once the rash or irritation occurs, it may last for weeks, and sometimes up to 8 weeks. People may stop using the offending product for 1-2 weeks, but that’s usually not long enough to see results.
What substances trigger ACD of the eyelid?
The eyelids are one of the most sensitive areas of the body. This means that they can react to:
Products that are used on the eyelid itself, such as eyedrops & ointments (OTC or Rx), make-up, cortisone ointments, etc.
Products that are used close by, such as facial products: Cleansers, moisturizer, actives (such as Retin A), and hair products which migrate through the skin to surrounding areas. NEVER apply any skincare product further than the orbital (outside) bone of the eye unless it is a product specific for use on the external eye.
Substances that are on the hands and then transferred to the face & eyelids (when rubbing the eyelids or wiping away sweat), such as hand cream, plants, pet dander, dust & dust mites, dried nail polish, artificial nails (acrylic, gel, shellac nails), or even tiny metal particles.
Masks can irritate the delicate tissues and eye from friable fibers and fabrics, dyes, fabric finishes, laundry detergents/fabric softeners, and processing chemicals on imported masks. Repeatedly adjusting and touching the noseband can easily transfer substances and pathogens to the ocular area. Wash/replace masks daily; more often if you are sweating, wearing makeup, have acne or infections of the skin, nose, eyes, sinuses, etc.
Substances in the air such as air freshener, some essential oils, carpet fresheners, perfumes.
Fragrance additives and preservatives in skin and hair care products.
Antibiotic ointments or eyedrops, specifically neomycin, tobramycin, gentamycin, and bacitracin. If you are using any of these, you may need testing. You may also see if your doctor could prescribe an alternative. Note that erythromycin is an extremely rare cause of allergic reactions.
Hair dye chemicals and hair products. These can affect the eyelids, even if the scalp isn’t affected.
Laundry detergents, fabric softeners, scent beads.
Preservatives in eyedrops. Testing is usually required to diagnose this allergy. Some persons, when possible, stop using the eyedrops temporarily. Always check with your doctor or ophthalmologist.
Nickel, a type of metal used in eyeglass frames, jewelry, and other metal objects. If you’ve had rashes from jewelry, it may be best to switch to plastic eyeglass frames (including reading glasses and sunglasses). Sometimes the pads on your eyeglasses can cause a reaction. Metal bands in facial masks can cause allergic reactions.
Other substances to avoid: plants, cleaning chemicals, gloves, or other metals in particulate form (some sunscreens, frosted eyeshadows and blush, highlighters, primers (or anything with silicones which act like little irritating beads in the eye).
Wash your hands thoroughly after handling food especially raw meats, or hot chilies.
Metal allergies from piercings are common.
Contact lenses, cleaners & solutions have been known to be common offenders.
A diagnosis of Dry Eye can exacerbate the symptoms.
Please note: Everyone has demodex mites on their skin. Some people react to them more than others. Eyelash mites can cause itchiness, redness, dry eye, crusty and sticky lashes, blurry vision, and scaly or rough patches of skin around the eyes. Both at-home and medical treatment methods are highly effective at controlling an eyelash mites.
If you suffer from rosacea with eye irritation, it is generally a good practice to treat the eyes for mites.
Lash extensions are another cause of eye irritation, sensitivities, and infections (sometimes severe infections). They require specific DAILY care with specific products. If you do not have the time to daily perform proper lash extension care, do not get them. Improper care increases the risk of infection, and increased risk of mite infestation.
Oily skin - believe it or not, can cause eye irritation. Excessive sebum (oil) can also cause eye makeup to migrate into the eye. At your next visit, Skinplicity can instruct you in the proper cleansing and care of the eye area.
Please DO NOT use eyeliner on the inner waterline of your eyelashes. This can create a plethora of unwanted issues like: styes, milia, conjunctivitis, lash loss, blocked follicles & ducts.
Lastly, NEVER, EVER share eye makeup. Its the fastest way to get infections and herpes of the eye. Do NOT use saliva to cleanup smudges or blend eyeshadow. Don't add anything to your mascara... toss it after 3 months.
It’s very important to keep your hands away from your eyelids. Obviously, most people rub their eyelids when they have a rash and itching, but in the process you can transfer tiny amounts of substances from your fingertips to your eyelids, and this makes it hard for the problem to go away.
Remember, touching your eyes is a great way to inoculate your body with viruses, bacteria, and other infections. Keeping the skin clean and protected goes a long way to keeping you healthier. Skinplicity carries several proven, effective products which can be sprayed onto the facial skin to help reduce infections.
There are studies which show certain supplements may help with dry eye and improve eye health. Skinplicity can provide you with excellent recommendations and a personalized link for these supplements. Ask at your next visit for your complementary supplement evaluation & recommendations.
Substances that cause Type 1 allergy may affect the eyelids. Type 1 allergy is the kind that most people know about. This occurs when pollens, pet dander, or dust mites trigger a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes. In some people with sensitive skin, the same substances can also cause a rash. For example, when the pollen counts are high, and some of the pollen lands on the eyelids, it can lead to redness, swelling, and itching. If you rub the eyelids, then over time it can result in chronic dermatitis.
If you’ve had allergy testing, then you should follow your Allergist’s recommendations. Consider wrap-around sunglasses to protect from pollens, and avoidance measures for dust mites, including frequent changing of pillowcases, HEPA filtration of your environment, and environmental probiotic cleaning products to reduce allergens and mite populations.
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