Wednesday, 5 June 2013

How I deal with Blepharitis and Eyelid Dermatitis

Since January I have been struggling with an eyelid inflammation (red, itchy, flaky and swollen skin around the eyes) which comes and goes depending on which products I use and also on the weather. Last week for example it flared up again because of a lot of pollen in the air. Here is how it started and how I have kept it at bay.

First of all I would like to say that the following advice is based on my personal case and experience and that some products were prescribed or recommended to me by doctors, while others were chosen by myself. So my best recommendation is that you consult a doctor if you experience a problem with your eyelids before you try anything out.  
And here is how it all started: a few months ago I applied an old eye shadow and developed a red, itchy and flaky patch in the crease area, near the internal corner of both my eyes. Since my doctor suspected an eyelid infection or Blepharitis she prescribed a 1% w/w Chloramphenycol ointment, which is available over the counter.

1% Chloramphenycol ointment

The antibiotic did the trick, even though after that episode my eyelids became very sensitive to almost anything I put on them, whether it was an eye shadow or an eye serum. More over as soon as sun and pollens came out in May the whole area around my eyes started getting more or less red, itchy and swollen depending on the weather and the pollen count. This time another doctor  referred to the problem as eyelid dermatitis and prescribed a 0.5% m/m Hydrocortisone ointment and antihistamine tablets. The hydro cortisone reduced the inflammation in my eyelids but left them very very dry.

Hydrocortisone 0.5% m/m ointment

In order to counter act this side effect and try to get my eyelid skin to behave better I decided to look for a very moisturizing, but also very gentle eye cream and after trying different moisturizers I settled on Clinique All About Eyes Rich. In fact I found this eye cream to be very emollient, but not greasy, thanks to shea butter it contains as second ingredient and very soothing thanks to the  antioxidants and anti-irritants it includes. The only draw back is that it is housed in a jar, which it is not very hygienic, but I use a small spatula to pick it up. 

In order to protect my skin from the sun I wanted a fragrance free  sunscreen suitable for the eye area and I chose Clinique Super City Block Oil-free Daily Face Protector Broad Spectrum 40 SPF. This moisturizer contains  mineral  sunscreen actives such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide and a couple of synthetic actives like Octinoxate and Octisalate.  It also includes a fair amount of anti oxidants and anti irritants and my skin seems to tolerate it well. It has got a sheer flesh toned tint which does not leave any colour on the skin, it is absorbed easily and leaves a radiant finish which I do not mind but which may not appeal to people with oily skin. 
Last but not least it wears well under make up and it actually seems to make it last longer. 

Clinique All About Eyes Rich and Super City Block 40SPF

Super City Block

In order to clean my eyes I simply used a fragrance free mild facial cleanser that I rinse with water.
The combination of all these products has worked well for me to keep my eyelid dermatitis under control, even though I still have to be very careful about applying make up around my eyes and next time I will think twice before using an old eyeshadow!
I hope this post may be useful to other people experiencing the same problem.

Clinique products are available from
Ingredients lists 
All about eyes rich:

Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Phenyl Trimethicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Polybutene, Sucrose, Cetyl Esters, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Butylene Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Euphrasia Officinalis (Euphrasia) Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul's Wort) Extract, PEG-100 Stearate, Coleus Barbatus Extract, Betula Alba (Birch) Extract, Polysilicone-11, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Yeast Extract, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) Root Extract, Stearic Acid, Milk Protein, Whey Protein, Lysine, Acetyl Glucosamine, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Guanidine Carbonate, Squalane, Glycosaminoglycans, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Cholesterol, Caffeine, PEG-8, Phytosphingosine, Arginine, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Glycine, Dimethicone, Ascorbic Acid, Isomerized Linoleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, 1,2 Hexanediol, Maltodextrin, Decarboxy Carnosine Hcl, Potassium Sulfate, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Yellow 5, Iron Oxides, Mica, Titanium Dioxide

Super City Block 40 SPF:

Active: Zinc Oxide (9.6%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Titanium Dioxide (7.3%), Octisalate (2%), Other: Water Purified, Trioctyldodecyl Citrate, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Steareth-2, Silica, Rosa Roxburghii Fruit Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Porphyra Yezoensis (Algae) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Betula Alba (Birch) Bark Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) Root Extract, Yeast Extract, Sodium RNA, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Pantethine, Squalane, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Hexylene Glycol, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Barium Sulfate, Polyethylene, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Lecithin, Ceteth-2, PEG-40 Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Steareth-20, Sorbitan Tristearate, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Xanthan Gum, Stearic Acid, Aluminum Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Mica, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide


  1. Thanks for these tips. What eyeliner and shadows can you use? I have tried everything and still react.

  2. Dear Haze, thank you for your comment. It took my eyelids about three months to get back to normal and during that time plus another three months (6 months in total) I did not use any eyeliner or eyeshadow but I used mascara. Only recently I started using eyeshadow again (the new Ready eye shadows by bareMinerals) without any problem. Have you ever tried bareMinerals Ready eyeshadow or Clinique eyeliner and shadow?

  3. I have had the same problems. Would love to share pics. My reaction was so bad it was like a severe sunburn. I have a calming creme by Mario Badescu which was expensive but I saw improvement rather quickly. I still have problems and I have to use Ocusoft Plus to cleanse my eyes with and then Rephresh eye lubricating drops daily. I really think mine is related to my Hashimoto's thyroiditis. I was wondering if anyone else has an autoimmune disease?

  4. Hi Alice,
    This post has been extremely helpful. I recently have been suffering from blepharitis - so out of the blue. I've been using the same brands since I was 16. I have switched to Bareminerals, however I still get unexplained flare-ups. I was just wondering if your eyes have calmed down since posting this last year or if you are still having issues?
    Thanks, J

    1. Hi Jen, thank you for your message. I am sorry you are struggling with blepharitis. Luckily I have not suffered from blepharitis for six months now, but I have not been wearing much eye makeup either (only a bit of mascara and a dusting of bareMinerals Original Foundation around my eyes as a concealer on a daily basis). I have worn eyeshadow on a few occasions over Christmas without any issue but I do not wear it everyday because I am worried that it may irritate my sensitive skin. I have also found out that it is very important to clean my brushes regularly and to get rid of old or potentially "contaminated" makeup. If your problem persist, consult a doctor. Hope it helps.

  5. Thanks for the tips. I was wondering what kind of mascara you use? I find that when I wear what I think should be hypoallergenic (ex. Almay) my eyes still pour water all day. No fun since my eyelashes are light and I look dead without mascara.

  6. Thank you for your comment Susan. Have you ever tried Clinique High Impact Mascara? It has been one of my favourites for a long time. It is a bit more expensive but it may work better. If you suffer from infections or allergies it is worth replacing your mascara every 3 months.

  7. Ciao e grazie tante!!
    I found the Clinque All About Eyes to be excellent with my under eye puffiness and the dryness on the middle eyelid (I was told I have blepharitis just the other day but don't really have the symptoms of puffiness or itching at the eyelashes ... I had a spot of eczema-like irritation in the crease of my left eyelid that got inflamed and lasted 3 days, so I thought it was an allergy, but the ophthalmologist said it wasn't an allergy and not my makeup. boh!). I recently bought in the US (I'm American living in Italy since 1998) a wonderful version of the All About Eyes that is a roller. I carry it with me and use it when needed during the day. It's great because it massages the puffy bags under my eyes. ;) I have mild dry eye too in the left eye. I have also read NOT to put hydrocortisone cream on your eye skin unless prescribed by an ophthalmologist. It can make the skin very thin and sensitive, and also can cause glaucoma!! Be careful. I was prescribed Tobradex drops (antibiotic/corticosteroid) and to use twice a day for 10 days. This is for the dry eye though. I have changed my facial cleanser which has helped the dryness around the eyes... La Roche Toleriane is amazing as well as their Fluide moisturizer. Made a HUGE difference. I guess what I'm saying is that treating the eyes isn't enough. I believe one needs to keep the entire face well hydrated too.
    Hope this helps! Good luck to you all. I had no idea what this blepharitis was until last week! Carol

  8. Ciao carol,
    thank you for your helpful contribution. Good luck to you as well!