A doctor explains the most common cause of a swollen, itching eyelid.

And the most common cause of this is contact dermatitis, says Gary Goldenberg, MD, of Goldenberg Dermatology, and assistant professor of dermatology and pathology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

He further explains, “This is more common in female patients than men. Common allergens include nail polish, hair care products, makeup and gold jewelry.

“Investigative work may be needed here to find out the exact cause of the allergy.

“Your dermatologist may suggest patch testing – a test to see what it is you are allergic to.”

What can you do about an itching, swollen eyelid?

Dr. Goldenberg explains, “Treatment can be a bit frustrating, since sometimes even if you remove the allergen, the condition may persist.

“Topical creams may be helpful. Caution should be exercised with using topical steroids on the eyelids.”

More About Contact Dermatitis and the Eyelid

You’d be surprised at what can come in contact with your eyelid every day or several days a week — enough to cause itching and swelling.

In some cases the contact is unintentional such as with hand cream and tweezers.

Do any of these apply to you?

  • Moisturizer
  • Hand cream
  • Tweezers
  • Allergens even in eye drops and contact lens solutions
  • Dust mites. Yes, they live on the eyelid.
  • Pet dander
  • Perfume

Keep a daily journal about what just possibly — even if it seems silly — could be making unintentional contact anywhere around your eye.

This includes from housecleaning agents that get onto your fingertips, and then before you wash your hands, one of those fingertips rubs a tired eye — transferring the chemical allergen to the lid.

Other causes of an itchy swollen eyelid you’d never think of.

  • Very cold or hot temperatures
  • Very dry or humid air
  • Dust in the air
  • The new carpet, memory foam pillow or mattress. Their “off-gassing” could be sending chemical allergens straight to your eyelid.

Dr. Goldenberg of Goldenberg Dermatology provides comprehensive care in medical and cosmetic dermatology, including melanoma and other skin cancer, moles, psoriasis, eczema and acne. He is the medical director of the Dermatology Faculty Practice, NY.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/fizkes