Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes a skin condition, in which skin cells build up quickly on the surface of the skin. It can occur on any area of the body, including the eyelids.
While there isn’t a cure for psoriasis, there are several prescription and non-prescription treatments available. In addition, there are home remedies that can reduce symptoms and offer relief.
Contents of this article:
- What is psoriasis?
- Psoriasis and the eyelids
- Treatments and home remedies
- Living with psoriasis of the eyelid
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a lifelong skin disease. The symptoms may be better at some times and worse at others. The exact prevalence of psoriasis isn’t exactly known, but about 1 to 2 people out of every 100 have the condition.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis.
There are several different types of psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis, which is the type causing patches on the scalp and skin, is the most common. The plaques are extra skin cells that create thick and silvery scales and red patches on the skin. These patches are often itchy and can be painful.
Psoriasis usually occurs on the scalp, joints, hands and feet. However, psoriasis can appear almost anywhere on the body, including the face and eyelids. About 10 percent of people with psoriasis have eyelid involvement.
The condition cannot be spread from person-to-person. However, psoriasis can spread on a person’s body. Dry skin is more prone to develop psoriasis plaques. Trauma to the skin such as a cut or scrape makes that area more likely to get psoriasis as well.
Psoriasis symptoms vary, but the most common symptoms include:
- Skin with red patches covered with silvery, dandruff-like scales
- Dry skin that may crack and bleed
- Itchy, burning, or sore skin
- Nails that become thicker, pitted, or have ridges
- Stiff, achy, or swollen joints
Psoriasis ranges in severity from a handful of spots to patches on large areas of the skin. The condition tends to get better and worse at times and can even go into remission.
Psoriasis is related to the immune system, and the body is incorrectly reacting to the body’s skin cells. The immune reaction is what causes the rapid growth and turnover of skin cells.
Certain things can trigger the first signs of psoriasis or recurrences:
- Dry weather
- Some medications
Psoriasis and the eyelids
Psoriasis on or around the eyelids is very difficult to live with because the skin in this area is very sensitive. The swelling may even cause the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball. The itchiness will also make psoriasis of the eyelid uncomfortable and painful at times.
Psoriasis on or around the eyelids can be a difficult condition to manage.
In addition, since the eyeball is nearby, any topical medications such as a steroid can lead to more severe problems such as glaucoma.
Symptoms of psoriasis of the eyelid
As the scales of skin flake off the eyelids, they may stick to the eyelashes.
The rims of eyes may become red and crusty.
If inflammation continues for some time, the edges of the eyelids may turn up or down. If they become inverted, lashes can rub against the eyeball. Irritation and other complications can result.
One complication of psoriasis is the risk of developing uveitis, an inflammation within the eye. It is rare, but it can cause inflammation, dryness, and discomfort. It can have a drastic effect on the eyesight, if not treated
Topical antibiotics may be used to treat infection, and patients are usually prescribed oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation.
Using topical steroids on the eyelid can cause serious side effects. The steroid can enter the eye and cause problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. It’s important to follow a doctor’s recommendation exactly in using topical or oral steroids.
A common complication of psoriasis is joint inflammation, which happens to up to 40 percent of people with psoriasis. This inflammation causes symptoms of arthritis and is referred to as psoriatic arthritis. A doctor will make an evaluation as to whether the joint pain is psoriatic arthritis or if there is another cause.
Treatments and home remedies
Anyone with symptoms of psoriasis, especially on the eyelids, should see a doctor. Often, patients see their family practitioner and may be referred to a skin specialist, or dermatologist.
People already diagnosed with psoriasis should see a doctor if their condition worsens or they have worrisome medication side effects.
While there isn’t a cure, psoriasis treatments and home care measures can offer some relief. Cortisone creams and exposing the skin to small amounts of natural sunlight can provide significant help.
Special steroid medication made for use around the eyes can help treat psoriasis in this area.
In some cases, a special steroid medication made for use around the eyes may be used to treat scaling. A doctor must carefully supervise the treatment because eyelid skin can be easily damaged.
If topical steroids are overused in and around the eyes, glaucoma or cataracts may develop. This is the reason the doctor may suggest having pressure within the eye checked regularly by an ophthalmologist.
Protopic ointment or Elidel cream is the preferred method of treatment for psoriasis around the eyes. These medications are not steroids but have an effect on the immune system.
Protopic ointment or Elidel cream won’t cause glaucoma and is effective on eyelids, but can sting the first few days of use. Using these medications for eyelid psoriasis can help someone with psoriasis avoid the potential side effects of topical steroids.
Home remedies and self-care
- Keep skin well-moisturized: This is the first step in controlling itchiness because it reduces redness and itching and helps the skin heal. Dermatologists recommend heavy creams and ointments, which keep water in the skin. Heavy moisturizers can be found over-the-counter.
- Gently washing the eyelids with cool water and a sensitive skin or baby shampoo may relieve irritation.
- There are over-the-counter products that remove excess skin and lessen cracking. Salicylic acid and coal tar are two common remedies.
- Cool baths or showers can soothe skin, but hot showers or bath can dry the skin and worsen psoriasis.
- Apple cider vinegar is a gentle disinfectant and can soothe psoriasis during flare ups. Vinegar can be added to bath water or applied directly to the skin. Do not use vinegar on skin that is cracked or bleeding.
- Cover scales with lotion and bandage if there are open lesions that can become infected. This method doesn’t work for the eyes or face but can help if there are scales elsewhere.
Treatments to avoid
Topical steroids applied to the eyelid can get in the eye and cause serious side effects. Topical steroids can cause glaucoma and cataracts. A person with psoriasis of the eyelid should consult with their doctor about treatment options.
Living with psoriasis of the eyelid
Makeup can reduce the appearance of redness and scales. Makeup designed for sensitive skin is a good choice.
However, makeup can interfere with topical medications and can further irritate the eyelid. People with psoriasis should speak to a doctor about the best ways to use makeup and manage eyelid psoriasis.
For people with psoriasis, getting an eyebrow piercing poses the risk of getting psoriasis in the eyebrow. Psoriasis can be caused by trauma to the skin such as a cut, bruise, and piercings or tattoos as well.
A person with psoriasis may want to speak to a doctor about getting a piercing or tattoo.
People with eyebrow piercings and psoriasis may get psoriasis in that area and eyebrow hair may fall out. They should consult with a doctor about prevention and treatment options.