Are You Allergic to Your Eye Makeup?

February 14, 2013

Sorting out an allergy to cosmetics takes a bit of detective work

If the skin around your eyes itches, turns red, or becomes scaly and puffy, it is probably because it has become sensitive or allergic to one of the cosmetics you use around your eyes. The whites of your eyes also may become red and swollen. An allergic reaction usually occurs around both eyes at the same time, though one side may be more affected than the other.

Why are the eyelids and surrounding area so vulnerable? Because the skin there is extremely thin and loose. This allows chemicals to penetrate easily and the skin to swell more readily than other parts of the face. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one in five Americans suffers from allergies of some type.

What causes an allergic reaction?

The basic ingredients of all cosmetics (soap and makeup included) are waxes, oils, detergents, dyes, perfumes, lanolin, and preservatives.  Any of these can cause an allergic reaction in the eye. The allergy is simply the body's response to a foriegn substance.

How can you treat an allergic reaction to makeup or soaps?

Step One: Stop using the offending material. If you can't identify the specific culprit, you will need to stop using anything at all on your eyelid skin until the condition clears up. That means all makeup, creams and fancy soaps. You may also be instructed by your doctor to use a steriod onintment on the affected skin several times a day until the condition clears up.

Step Two: You'll need to do some detective work to determine what you are allergic to, and then stop using that item permanently. After your skin has cleared up, begin introducing your usual products slowly (one per week) until you can identify what irritates your skin.

Step Three: Consider whether you'll need to switch to hypo-allergenic or non-allergenic cosmetics.

Be sure to see your eye doctor during any eye-allergy flare up. He or she can be sure it's simply an allergy and not a more serious condition. Dr. Jeffrey Gold is a board certified ophthalmologist who specializes in laser vision correction. His practice, Liberty Vision of Hamden CT is happy to help you with all of your eye care needs.