Periocular dermatitis is a complex and persistent condition, with various suggested causes. But how can you treat it effectively?
First, let’s clarify what it is. Like its close cousin perioral dermatitis, periocular dermatitis is an eruption of itchy rashes, spots, pustules or sore skin around the eyes. Perioral dermatitis looks similar but tends to occur around the mouth, whereas periocular denotes a problem around the eyes. When both eyes and mouth are affected, the condition is called periorificial dermatitis.
It’s not an uncommon issue, and tends to come and go in waves, so if you’ve experienced one instance of periocular dermatitis, unfortunately you’re vulnerable to more. Some sectors of the population are more vulnerable to getting flares of periocular dermatitis than others; women in their teens to 40s being the most likely sufferers.
What causes it? Well that’s a bit of a debatable subject; it seems to be a combination of factors, from genetic predisposition to the use of various topical lotions and potions, perfumed cosmetics and prescribed (or OTC) steroids being some of the most common. It seems that microbes living on the skin can play a part too, as can hormonal disruptions and stress.
How do you treat periocular dermatitis? If your rash is persistent and severe, it’s worth going to your doctor to see what they suggest. You may be prescribed anti-inflammatories or immunosuppressants, and/or antibiotics to clear it up - but not topical steroids, which are significant triggers for periorificial dermatitis!
What can you do yourself to help clear it up? Well, a good strategy is to take a two-pronged attack!
- AVOID TRIGGERS: most simply, that means not putting the things that could cause the rash onto your skin. Topical steroids, irritant skincare, sunscreen, and makeup are all best avoided totally. As a second tactic, avoiding triggers could mean keeping harmful microbes in check, managing your stress levels, and looking at hormonal issues like oral contraception or perimenopause.
- NOURISH YOUR SKIN: your sensitive skin needs as little on it as possible, but it still needs to be cared for. Give it the nutrients it needs to regenerate and repair - vitamins, EFAs, antioxidants can all be found in plant-based unperfumed skincare, such as Balmonds makes - and avoid high alkaline soaps or facial washes.
As the rash is on the very delicate skin around your eyes, you need to be extra careful to use the gentlest moisturisers possible. Patch test anything you’re going to use on your face in a different spot first: behind your ear or in the crook of your elbow is ideal. Give it 24-48 hrs before putting an emollient on your face. We'd recommend using a oil-based balm (like Skin Salvation) rather than a water-based cream on very itchy or sore skin in that area, as balms are less likely to sting very sore skin.
Clean your face with gentle, unperfumed cleansers: we’d recommend our Balmonds Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil as a totally soap-free, perfumed-free cleanser.
It's worth looking at the tips outlined in this article, as the two conditions are so related: How To Treat Perioral Dermatitis
Recommend products for skin prone to periocular dermatitis:
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil
with rosehip and calendula
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.