Rashes around the eyes may be a sign of an allergic reaction or seasonal allergy. This is a common condition where the skin around your eyes feels sore and appears red and flaky.
One of the most common causes of redness and itchiness around the eyes is hay fever or allergic rhinitis, which is a form of seasonal allergy. It may also be due to atopic dermatitis caused by the inhalation of allergens, such as pollen, dust, or animal dander, which trigger a series of reactions leading to inflammation. Sometimes a food allergy can cause rashes on the face and around the eyes. Rubbing the eyes or using tissue paper near them can make the area sore.
Another common cause of rash around the eyes is contact dermatitis, in which inflammatory reactions result from contact with objects such as eyeglasses, swimming goggles, or anything worn on the face. This can cause redness, flakiness, and irritation. It can be worsened by the physical contact of hands scratching the area.
The use of new products on the face and around the eyes can also lead to allergic reactions on sensitive skin. Examples of products that can cause a rash around the eyes are eye make-up, mascara, facial soap, and facial wash, exfoliating scrubs, moisturizing cream, sunscreen lotion or other cosmetic products. These may contain chemicals like formaldehyde, quaternium-15, nickel, or cobalt, which may elicit inflammatory reactions. Even chemicals used in the scalp or hair (shampoo and conditioner) can cause allergic dermatitis around the eyes.
Less common reasons for rashes around the eyes are autoimmune conditions, such as systemic lupus or dermatomyositis. These conditions involve other systemic or general symptoms that affect the body, such as muscle pains, fever, and changes in weight.
Rashes near the eyes may appear occasionally or may be a recurrent issue. It is important to recognize the possible cause of the inflammation before resorting to any treatment.
If it seems that the rashes are part of a seasonal allergy, it may be relieved with an antihistamine, which relieves runny nose and sneezing symptoms as well. You should also reduce exposure to known allergens such as pollens, dust, and animal dander.
If a rash around the eyes is the result of poorly fitting eyeglasses or swimming goggles, a change or adjustment in eyewear may be needed. Symptoms may resolve when these objects are prevented from contact with the skin around the eyes.
For those wearing contact lenses, the use of hypoallergenic lenses and contact lens products is recommended.
Remove eye make-up or other possible offending cosmetic products on the face. One may use hypoallergenic or baby shampoo with the "no-more-tears" formulation to cleanse the area around the eyes, including the upper eyelids and lashes.
Get rid of old make-up products that may possibly harbor bacteria or fungi. Shift to hypoallergenic cosmetic products to avoid allergic reactions around the eye. It is also helpful to consult a dermatologist about which products are suited to your skin type.
To relieve itchiness and irritation around the eyes, one may apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream for a few days. Itchiness from rashes can also be relieved by applying a cold pack or cucumber slices on the eyes.
Avoid touching or rubbing the area with your hands, as this might intensify symptoms.
Finally, if these measures do not relieve your rash around the eyes after a few days, consult a dermatologist or medical doctor who may evaluate the cause of your symptoms and prescribe appropriate medications.