Frequent scratching or rubbing of eyes can be due to itchiness caused by eye allergy or infection; but for a child with eczema, it is possible that he or she has eczema on the eyelid. Though eyelid eczema is more common in adults wearing cosmetics, children can also suffer from dry, sensitive and itchy eyelid. The skin around the eye is thin and sensitive, and also vulnerable to irritants and allergens just as other parts of the body of an eczema child. My baby Marcie sometimes scratches her eyes, and the eyelids look red, dry and sometimes a little swollen.
Here’s a little bit more of how you can identify eyelid eczema in your child:
– Eyelid is itchy, looks inflamed or scaly.
– Eyelid is red or swollen.
– If scratching is vigorous and prolonged, it may cause a change in the appearance of the eyelid, e.g. extra fold of skin under the eye or darker eyelid.
– Extreme rubbing can even lead to deformed cornea (keratoconus)
I haven’t asked for any medical advice regarding eyelid eczema, but I usually wipe Marcie’s eyelid with cooled boiled water on cotton pad. If her eyelid looks oily (at the place where mascara is applied, not that I apply eye makeup on her), I will use slightly warm cooled boiled water that can remove the oil better. I will then sparingly apply Physiogel AI cream on her eyelids, and usually, she stopped scratching after a few days since her eyelid eczema is not severe. Do do see a specialist and seek appropriate treatment as you can read below, it’s a little trickier to treat the eyelid eczema.
– Certain irritant/allergen in moisturizers may worsen the eyelid eczema, see this post and the comment section for some of these irritants.
– Eyelid can be moisturized, but avoid doing it too generously that it flows into the eye and irritate the eye.
– Check with the doctor if the steroid lotion/cream that you have can be applied on the eyelid. There’s some research that shows increased risk of cataract and glaucoma with steroid use. (Also read that the risk of cataract is higher for people with severe eczema for more than ten years…but let’s not scare ourselves too much now and just focus on managing our children’s eczema for now)
– As the eyelid is already thinner than other skin, and extensive steroid use causes skin thinning, do consult your baby’s doctor on the frequency you can apply the steroid. (note: don’t get put off steroid use, as there’s research that there’s no long term adverse effect if used as doctor prescribed)
– For cleaning the eyelid (if need to), ask your baby’s doctor first if you want to use eye lid cleanser as most of these are for adults only.
Update: Since this post, I have interviewed several dermatologists on eyelid eczema and how to clean and treat it, here are the posts: