Ask Health: Itchy Eyelids

My eyelids are itchy and often flake. What’s causing this? And what can I do about it?


eye-infection-arthritis

Q: My eyelids are itchy and often flake. Whats causing this? And what can I do about it?

A: Youd be surprised by the number of women who come to me with this type of rash, known as eyelid dermatitis. Just as unexpected is its number one cause: wet nail polish, or, more precisely, a chemical in it called formaldehyde. Once polish dries, the chemical cant cause a reaction. But if tacky nails touch your lids, this sort of rash can result. Fragrance in skin-care products may also be to blame. And shimmery eye shadows can irritate lids too. Other common culprits are eczema of the eyelids and seborrheic dermatitis, a condition similar to dandruff, which makes the skin on the lids flake.

The best treatment, no matter the cause, is an over-the-counter, 1% hydrocortisone cream used twice a day for up to five days. Taking an antihistamine—Claritin during the day or Benadryl at night—can also help. And, of course, avoid potentially irritating products. If the rash worsens or doesnt improve over time, see your dermatologist.
Last Updated: May 15, 2008

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