Redness Around Eyes & Eyelids: Causes, Treatments & in Children 

What causes red dry patches under my eyes that look scaly? Redness around eyes and eyelids is a problem for anyone but who wants it. This problem could be a deprivation of sleep, dermatitis, allergic reactions, and infections among many other trigger factors. This article will focus on causes, symptoms, and signs likely to occur, how to reduce and treat it.

Causes including on eyelids

Read on to get answers and understand why you have this problem or why your child has it.

From eczema

To begin, dermatitis refers to a group of skin conditions. If you had no idea of facial eczema then believe it is quite common.

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is one of the types of eczema whose symptoms are long-lasting and chronic. This type of dermatitis or eczema occur in various forms with an “inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.” [].

The exact causes are unknown but Dermatologists believe that it is a combination of genetic or hereditary and environmental triggers including climatic or weather changes. From facts, this condition is characteristic of extreme itching. It is thus due to the itching that its victims end up with swelling, cracking and crusting characterized by a scaly skin.

Atopic dermatitis can affect anyone regardless of gender, sex or age but is more common during childhood or infancy.

Symptoms common to this type of eczema include the following but may vary from one individual to another.

  • Itching (most common) and dry and scaly looking skin under eyes and even on eyelids,
  • Scratching and rubbing as individuals try to relieve of itchiness
  • Rashes on face elbows, behind the knees, hands and feet,
  • Redness due to inflammation,
  • Small raised bumps,
  • Leaking fluid or ‘weeping skin’

Redness and dryness is also common in dermatitis round eyes, on eyelids, eyelashes and under eyes because of the same scratching and rubbing.

Contact dermatitis around eyes

Unlike atopic dermatitis, contact eczema occurs when the skin is directly exposed to a skin irritant or allergy triggering agent. In fact this type of eczema is associated with any substance that produces a reaction when it comes into contact with skin. Common examples of skin irritants include emollients, bad facial or eye beauty products like eyeliners, mascara, etc.

In reaction to these substances some individuals develop a skin rash around eyes or wherever the allergy triggered reaction occurs.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis or eczema include red patches, burning around eyes, dryness, crusting and sometimes blistering skin.

Lyme disease

This is a bacterial infectious disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi found in and transmitted by some species of blacklegged ticks.

Lyme disease is characteristic of erythema migrans – a rash that forms a red bulls-eye pattern on areas of the tick bites. In some individuals the rash can spread to different areas of the body apart from the affected areas. The rash sometimes clears in the center leaving a red patchy ring. Refer to the picture beside.

Other symptoms experienced are fever, headaches, chills and fatigue but these should not be concluded to be flu disease. According to Mayo Clinic if this disease is not treated after biting, the rash will spread and lead to serious complication, for instance, arthritis, joint problems and neurological diseases such as meningitis. During the later stages of infection, patients are also reported to get severe fatigue, hepatitis, irregular heat pulses, eye inflammation, nausea and vomiting among other signs/symptoms.

Reactions from certain medicines

Reactions resulting from medicines can be viewed as a form of allergic reaction to that specific drug or medication given via injections or taken orally. What happens in such medical situations is that, the immune system develops sensitization when it comes into contact with the allergy causing drug. Any further exposure to the drugs is what triggers the allergic reactions.

Normally, the reactions are side effects from use of such drugs (Epinephrine & Diphenhydramine) which results in skin developing a rash. People with a susceptible immune system sensitive to the named drugs are likely to develop a red bumpy skin rash. In some people it may be itchy and painful while others it may not. In some cases, people may get skin hives.

On the other hand, a rash will occur without allergic reactions. The rash may appear suddenly. It can also be painful and may lead to redness and peeling or make it look discolored. Dr. Wingfield E. Rehmus notes that the color could also be purple, blue or grey.

Vascular effects of alcohol abuse

How much alcohol do you drink in a day? Do you have any effects on your facial vascular (blood vessel) system? Abuse of alcohol has far reaching health effects besides the impacts it can have on one’s career and family personal life.

One of the effects of chronic alcohol abuse is telangiectasia characterized by a persistent red face (aka flushing) and prominent cutaneous blood vessels. According to Dr. Susan Simpkin of Dermnet New Zealand, telangiectasia results due to failure of the brain to regulate flow of blood vessels hence they become enlarged.

Why do I get red rash under eyes after drinking alcohol? This sign/symptom is attributed to Sulfur dioxide used in preservation of alcohol beverages. Some wines may also have histamines and tannins that are behind the reddening of face. Take a look at this photo taken from an adult with telangiectasia.

Facial redness is also common in polymorphism – people with a deficient Mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) which plays a role in metabolism of ethanol.

Other health concerns or effects of too much alcohol include pruritus, hyperpigmentation symptomized by dark circles under eyes or round the eyes; changes in nail colour, increased risks for skin cancer, liver cirrhosis among other many other conditions and syndromes.

NOTE: Keep in mind that alcohol can also heighten existing forms of allergies.

Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis (AKC)

Do you get red hardened and swollen redness under eyes especially the eyelid lining? This condition may be the cause. Generally, Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis is a genetic condition where your “immune system produces higher than normal antibodies in response to a given allergen,” []

The condition can also lead to sensitivity to light, tearing and burning in eyes but does not mean that it is conjunctivitis. In severe scratching or itching, the eye may get damaged.

Allergic or contact conjunctivitis

Another possible cause is allergic conjunctivitis. Both forms of allergies (contact and seasonal allergens) can make the eyes inflamed or result in redness. Due to inflammation the eyelids (esp. the upper eyelids) may also become swollen and ignite a burning sensation. Other symptoms experienced include itchiness inside eyes/eyelids, red sore eyelids, gritty, etc.

Either one eye or both are affected and the symptoms may develop to severity.

Other causes

Other causes and trigger factors of dry skin include the following:

  • Hay fever
  • Exposure to direct sun
  • Injuries or trauma
  • Excessive or chronic stress
  • Some viral infections such as herpes

Red dry skin around eyes

What does it mean if you experience redness and dryness around the eyes? Including the above factors, the red dry skin around eyes could indicate contact dermatitis – cosmetics, eye makeup like eyeliner, mascara, makeup remover tools, certain fabrics, – excessive exposure to sun, facial psoriasis among other conditions.

In children, toddlers or newborn baby

Redness round eyes is not only a symptom in adults but also in small kids that occurs at infancy and could persist through childhood. Dermatitis, allergies reactions to medications among other reasons are responsible. Although atopic dermatitis is uncommon around the eyes in children, typical areas affected include behind the knees, around the neck, mouth, on wrist and ankles.

Allergies and contact dermatitis: Contact dermatitis is the most common eczema in children. Allergies are also more rampant in children and newborn babies. Contact dermatitis in toddlers results in a sudden itchy red rash after exposure. Fragrances in soaps, washes, food, certain metals, etc. are in many instances the triggers. Seasonal allergies and hay fever may also contribute.

Seborrheic dermatitis. Characterized by scaly and crusty patches this type of eczema is also common in children.

Another cause is blepharitis. Symptoms produced depend on the cause. However, symptoms observed ion children include crusting on eyelids, red and swollen eyelids, itching and excessive tearing.

Redness under eyes

What causes redness underneath the eyes? When your skin turns red under eyes you should seek answers to some of these questions? Besides the redness, what are other signs and symptoms do you get more often? Are the symptoms persistent or come and go? What does the rash look like? Are there red patches and bumpy spots?

Common causes of under eye redness include lack of enough sleep especially in adults, allergic reactions from drugs, atopic dermatitis, vascular effects of alcohol abuse or excessive consumption of alcohol, effects after vomiting, et cetera.

How to reduce and treat them

Treating this problem at home can be a challenge. For some of the causes to be established and get to be known and treated systematically, patients must go for an evaluative diagnosis.

1. Using medications

They include:


Use of broad spectrum antibiotics specific to the eye area are recommended if the rash causing redness round the ayes is the cause. Sometimes the antibiotics can be administered through an injection. This is due to the fact that some bacteria species are likely to develop a resistance against some antibiotic drugs.

In mild symptom cases, oral antibiotics are prescribed. Antibiotics are quite effective for infections such as the Lyme disease.

Oral corticosteroid, injections, creams and ointments

This is another common category of medications used to reduce redness in skin. If the redness around the eyes result from an inflammatory rash that triggers itching feeling, your doctor will prescribe these drugs for a specified period. They include Triamcinolone.

In case of a severe itching or when the creams do not counter the severe symptoms of eczema you should see your doctor to get oral or injections of corticosteroid.

CAUTION: Long-term use of corticosteroids has some side effects and thus is not recommended.

Antihistamines and anti-itch

Antihistamines and anti-itch medications are quite effective for reddening and other symptoms such as dryness, irritation, swelling and itching. One of the more common anti-itch products is calamine lotion.

Antihistamines available over the counter (OTC) should not be used if the rash covers a large area of skin around the eyes.


Thirdly, immunomodulators is another optional treatment of the eye problem if they get inflamed due to allergic reactions. Dermatologists recommend immunomodulators to come second in preference to other treatments.

Non-steroidal immunosuppressant

For mild to moderate atopic dermatitis patients are required to visit dermatologists before they can get treatments for (allergy) eczema. These drugs are a good choice as opposed to steroid creams such as Tacrolimus and Pimecrolimus which as suggested are associated with skin cancer.

Examples of the non-steroidal creams include Elidel and Protopic.

2. Phototherapy

Other than the above treatment forms, your doctor may determine whether phototherapy could be effective after diagnosing the symptoms. Nevertheless, if the symptoms are mild a minimum exposure is quite an effective cure for atopic eczema and some other forms of dermatitis.

3. Saline drops

For best outcome, ask your pharmacist or doctor to prescribe the right drops for your eyes. Saline water can easily clear the irritants from the eyes that could be triggering the allergies.

Home remedies

Bearing in mind that redness around eyes is specific and symptomatic to the underlying cause, it is worth noting that not every home remedy will be suitable for all the eye problem under discussion. Remedies can be great in dealing with minor symptoms or before the signs get to an advanced degree.


If you find that the symptoms are getting worse you may need these natural moisturizers to apply to prevent further drying out and cracking.

  • Beat Aloe Vera to make a pulp and then apply around the eyes to reduce inflammation.
  • If you oil products cause no bugs in skin it is also recommended to apply coconut oil depending on severity of dryness. Coconut oil can sooth skin with red spots under eyes.

If you choose to go for skincare products be careful of what you select. Skin care can be crucial in that instead of avoiding flare-ups in the symptoms associated, they actually worsen. Application of moisturizers after bathing is ideal to counter itching.

Go for fragrant free and alcohol free and water-based moisturizers to help address dryness. If you have susceptible to dry skin especially during winter get yourself a pack of Aloe moisturizer creams or lotions. Use of moisturizers ensures a quicker relief of crusting hence enhancing healing. Furthermore, they will enrich your skin with lipids while removing acetone that is causes skin to dry out.

Cold compress

Cool-compressing skin around the eyes is one of the easiest method to deal with the discomfort brought about by atopic dermatitis such as burning areas around and under eyes. To do it – you need a soft piece of cotton (preferably), cool water or few pieces of ice-cold cubes. Depending on the intensity of the discomfort, the following is the simple procedure:

  • Dip the clean cloth in lean cool water
  • Wring or squeeze to remove excess water
  • Carefully hold while pressing it around the eyes
  • Repeat the procedure several times each day to help relieve reddening and burning
  • Alternative: If the burning is too much use ice cubes wrapped in your piece of cloth.
  • Caution should be taken to ensure that water does not leak into the eyes.

Cucumber/potato slices

Here is how you can do it yourself using cucumber.

  1. Clean 2 fresh cucumber and slice into thickness of your fingers.
  2. Wipe your face carefully and then lie facing the ceiling.
  3. Close your eyes properly and hold each slice and then apply each on the affected areas.
  4. Let them sit until you feel the coldness penetrate into the eyes or deeper in the skin.
  5. After feeling the warmth remove them. At this point you can also repeat if it is necessary.
  6. You may also deep the slices in cool fresh water before applying.

Tea bags

Tea bags is a good remedy to get rid of the symptoms typical of bacterial infections but can also be used for other purposes. The first procedure is similar to that of cucumber only that the procedure should be carried out with extra care to avoid the tea contents from getting in eyes.

In the other procedure you need to use a grater to extract its fluid. Apply it on eyes and on dark circles under eyes for 10 minutes. And then rinse off with cool water.

Other remedies for red circles, dryness and puffiness or swelling

Getting to know the best ways of managing stress is another way of avoiding the flare-ups which worsens the symptoms that may be accompanied with redness. Relaxation also reduces the probability of catching an infection.

  • Fight dehydration
  • Good sleeping habits
  • Avoid rubbing eyes
  • Proper use and removal of facial cosmetics
  • Learn relaxation and stress management

Prevention or how to deal with red skin eye

  • Insect repellants or a more suppressive means of reducing the habitats for ticks and other insects in the case of Lyme disease.
  • Protection from the allergens should be strategic. Ensure that all potential habitations and sources of dust mites are cleared. This could be achieved by buying dust-proof mattresses and pillows. Cleaning and washing or replacing them is also a good move. Young people and children should be protected by eye goggles or use of special facial covering.
  • A change in diet is also helpful although it has limitations.
  • Discounted use of allergic triggering drugs and medications.
  • Avoid alcohol or simply quit drinking.
  • Use of humidifiers particularly during the winter periods

When to see your doctor

Generally, patients who have had a poor history of eczema, allergies and any set of severe symptoms should see an eye expert, optometrist or dermatologist. Despite the fact that you seem to have a problem that seems to resolve, talking to your doctor is always the best step.

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