Are your eyelids itchy, red, or swollen? These annoying symptoms could be the result of a number of different conditions. Here we discuss three of the more common ones and the treatment involved for each.
Allergies – a very common cause of itchy eyelids. Exposure to allergy-promoting substances (called allergens) is what causes the symptoms. Seasonal allergies usually start in the Spring but can go all summer long in some individuals. Usually there are other problems also such as runny nose, sneezing and sniffling. Other substances such as animal hair, molds, dust, chemicals such as nail polish or makeup, certain metals like Nickel and perfumes are also common allergens. The best treatment is to avoid the allergen causing the problem. If this is not possible there are options for treatment including prescription eye drops that can be very effective.
Blepharitis – a buildup of debris on the eyelashes causing redness and inflammation. A high percentage of adults and many children will have a certain level of blepharitis. The eyelashes are like nets which trap dead skin and dust. If this buildup is not removed it can mix with the oils in the eyelids and around the eye causing bacterial buildup. This can then result in chronic infection and inflammation, causing the symptom of itchy eyes as well as discharge, redness and even loss of eyelashes in severe cases. The treatment is warm soaks followed by cleansing the lashes. It needs to be done daily in order to be effective and a special technique needs to be used. Email us if you’d like more information on how to care for your eyelids and avoid the symptoms of blepharitis.
Demodex mites – as creepy as this sounds, these tiny arachnids (related to spiders and ticks) are commonly found on human skin. Only about 1/3 of a millimetre long, they may exist on our bodies virtually everywhere we have hair follicles. They tend to be less common in younger people and more common in older folks (one study* showed an incidence of 84% in patients 60 years of age). People with Demodex infection may get blepharitis as described above, however, the blepharitis needs to be managed differently. Treatment usually involves application of certain medicinal oils as well as medicated ointments.
Come in and see us for an appointment if your eyelids are itchy. We can diagnose your condition correctly and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Review of Ophthalmology, Sept. 6, 2012 https://www.revophth.com/content/i/2088/c/36411/