“When eyelids are itchy and swollen or peeling, this usually indicates an underlying allergic reaction to a product that’s coming into contact with the skin,” explains Estee Williams, MD, a board certified medical, cosmetic and surgical dermatologist and assistant clinical professor in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“Dermatologists refer to this as allergic contact dermatitis,” continues Dr. Williams.

Do not confuse allergic contact dermatitis with seborrheic dermatitis, which produces itchiness and peeling of the eyelids (and other areas of the face), but minus the swelling or puffiness.

Dr. Williams adds, “ACD is almost always symmetric, involving both the right and left eyelids equally.

“It is more common in those with sensitive skin, who may have eczema, as well as people who tend to use many cosmetic products.

“ACD can be caused by any chemical substance that comes into contact with the skin, including personal care product, hair products, makeup, facial products, nail polish, aerosolized substances like perfume, pollen and household cleaning products, and even water.

“Patch testing is a type of allergy testing that detects contact dermatitis. There is no blood test.”

If you suddenly find that your eyelids are puffy or swollen, do not panic.

It will be a startling sight if you don’t expect it, but it’s a benign condition.

You may even feel something isn’t right with your eyelids before you actually see them.

Interestingly, treatment of seborrheic dermatitis can cause allergic contact dermatitis. It happened to me.

I used the edge of a moistened sponge (the allergen, unbeknownst to me) to blot up the Selsun Blue shampoo that I had dabbed on a scaly patch of seborrheic dermatitis that was located on the skin above my eyelid.

Next day I woke up feeling something odd and “thick” about my left eyelid.

I looked in the mirror and was rather stunned at the degree of swelling involving the skin above the eyelid, and a little swelling of the actual lid itself.

But it wasn’t itchy or peeling. I gave it no treatment other than passage of time.

Dr. Williams strives to be at the forefront of her field, being active in local, national and international medical and cosmetic dermatology conferences. 
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.


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