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Ask an Ophthalmologist: Why is My Eyelid Itching?

Itchy EyelidsYour eyelids protect your eyes from debris, bright light, and foreign objects that could irritate or damage your eye. When you blink, your eyelids spread tears over the surface of your eyes to keep them hydrated and healthy.

Your eyelids are essentially a thin piece of skin full of nerves and blood vessels, so the slightest irritation can cause extreme itching. When your eyes are inflamed or infected, your eyelids will itch even more.

Common Causes of Itchy Eyelids

Itchy eyelids are a common symptom of a number of eye dysfunctions and other medical conditions, including:

Contact Dermatitis

When your eye comes into contact with an irritating substance, allergic skin reactions often occur. This may result in eyelid redness, itchiness, and sometimes a fine scaly rash. Common culprits include: dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, perfume, cosmetics, and hair care products.

Ocular RosaceaAtopic Dermatitis

Eczema may affect the eyelid in addition to other areas of skin. Eyelid itching caused by atopic dermatitis may be accompanied by eyelid redness, burning, mild swelling, excessive tearing, and eye discharge.

Ocular Rosacea

Like eczema, rosacea is a chronic skin condition that may affect the eyes. In addition to eyelid itching, people with ocular rosacea may experience watery or bloodshot eyes, burning or stinging, light sensitivity, and blurry vision.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis can be caused by a number of things (including meibomian gland dysfunction or bacterial infection) and is very common in people with oily skin, dandruff, or dry eyes. In addition to eyelid itching, blepharitis symptoms include: crusting, tearing, redness, burning, and feeling as though something is in your eye.

Conjunctivitis

More commonly referred to as pink eye, conjunctivitis is a common infection that may be caused by either bacteria or viruses. Other symptoms, such as: pinkness in the white of the eye and/or inner eyes, an increase in tear production, white, green or yellow discharge may also appear.

Chalazion or Hordeolum (Stye)

Chalazia and hordeola (styes) are two different kinds of eyelid disorders caused by a clogged oil gland or infected hair follicle that may cause itchy eyelids in addition to eyelid swelling, redness, pain, and a calcified lump under the eyelid. See what each looks like and read about their differences here.

What Should I Do to Stop the Itching?

Eye Drops for Itchy EyesIf your eyelid is itching, here are several things to try at home that may alleviate your discomfort:

  • Antihistamine tablets
  • Anti-allergy eye drops
  • Artificial tears
  • Eyelid scrubs
  • Warm compresses

** Avoid scratching and rubbing your eyelids as this could cause serious eye damage. **

When Should I Consult a Doctor?

Eyelid itching can be intensely aggravating at best and vision-endangering at worst. Consult your eye doctor if you experience frequent, recurring, or worsening eyelid itching.

If your eyelid itching is accompanied by spreading redness or swelling around the eyes, eye pain, blurry vision, vision changes, or pus-like eye discharge, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor immediately.

 

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