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Irritation, redness and swelling of the eyes is a serious issue and something that should not be ignored. While most of the conditions that contribute to such clinical presentations in everyday life are self-limiting, others may require medical attention and prescription medication.

Here are some common conditions that can cause irritation around the eyes:

Eczema Around The Eyes

Eczema is a very common skin condition that a lot of people suffer from. Those populations that are exposed to sunlight for longer durations of time, either due to the nature of their work or their geographic location, are much more prone to developing eczema.

The clinical presentation includes redness, dryness, breaking up of the skin, itching and bleeding from the skin. The exact cause may never be known, however, it is likely to arise out of an allergy or due to environmental conditions prevalent in the area.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis refers to inflammation around the eye due to coming into contact with an irritant. This could be an environmental pollutant or just a bit of eye make-up. Chlorine that is added to swimming pools as a disinfectant is also a common cause of irritation in the eyes. The symptoms include redness of the eye, watering, burning sensation, blurred vision and sensitivity to light. 


Dandruff on the body can accumulate near the eyelids and cause an inflammatory reaction. This is usually seen in people who are bedridden, have extremely poor hygiene or are suffering from substance abuse.

Eye makeup can also cause a similar reaction in patients. The major presenting symptom of blepharitis is the presence of redness, swelling and inflammation along the lower border of the eye.


While conjunctivitis, or "pink eye" as it is commonly referred to, is one of the reasons for redness of the sclera, it can also cause irritation to the underside of the eye. It is important to maintain good hygiene, avoid touching the eyes too much, and take medication to make sure that the infection does not cause any lasting damage to the eyes.


Over the counter medication and eye drops are sufficient to take care of most common conditions that lead to irritated eyes, however if the condition persists or worsens, then time should not be wasted in going to the doctor. Antihistamine eye drops are used to control the inflammation around the eye, while antibiotic eye drops are prescribed in cases where an infection is believed to be the main culprit.

The doctor may advise the patient to undergo a patch test to ascertain any allergies they may be suffering from. If such a condition is determined to exist then care should be taken to avoid exposure as much as possible.

There are databases which help the patient to determine days in which certain allergies are likely to worsen, thus allowing them to take their allergy medication preemptively and avoid  the associated symptoms.

Simple home remedies like placing raw cucumber over the eyes also help in providing comfort and relief from the irritation.

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