Redness Around The Eye Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Redness around the eyes can be caused by an inflamed eyelid, allergies, or a stye. Red rashes or dry skin around the eyes can be caused by eczema or dermatitis. Read now for more information on what causes red around the eyes and treatment options.

6 causes of redness around the eye

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a non-contagious chronic skin condition that produces an itchy rash. It is caused by a genetic condition that affects the skin's ability to protect itself from bacteria and allergens. The most susceptible are those with a family hi..

Inflamed eyelid (blepharitis)

Inflamed eyelid, or blepharitis, is a bacterial infection of the skin at the base of the eyelashes.

If the oil glands around the eyelashes become clogged, normal skin bacteria will multiply in the oil and cause infection. The glands can become blocked due to dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows; allergies to eye makeup or contact lens solution; or eyelash mites or lice.

Symptoms include red, swollen, painful eyelids; oily, dandruff-like flakes of skin at the base of the eyelashes; and eyelashes that grow abnormally or fall out.

If the symptoms do not clear with hygiene, see a medical provider. Blepharitis can become chronic and lead to infections of the eyelids and cornea; dry eyes which cannot take contact lenses; and scarring and deformity of the eyelids.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination of the eyelids, under magnification and through skin swab of the eyelashes.

Treatment includes warm compresses and careful washing of the eyelids; antibiotics in pill or cream form; steroid eyedrops; and treatment for any underlying condition such as dandruff or rosacea.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: eye itch, sensitivity to light, eye redness, feeling of something in the eye, dry eyes

Symptoms that never occur with inflamed eyelid (blepharitis): severe eye pain

Urgency: Self-treatment

Irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis means a skin reaction that is caused by directly touching an irritating substance, and not by an infectious agent such as a bacteria or virus.

Common causes are soap, bleach, cleaning agents, chemicals, and even water. Almost any substance can cause it with prolonged exposure. Contact dermatitis is not contagious.

Anyone who works with an irritating substance can contract the condition. Mechanics, beauticians, housekeepers, restaurant workers, and health care providers are all susceptible.

Symptoms include skin that feels swollen, stiff, and dry, and becomes cracked and blistered with painful open sores.

A medical provider can give the best advice on how to heal the skin and avoid further irritation. Self-treatment can make the problem worse if the wrong creams or ointments are used.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, to find out what substances the patient comes into contact with, and through physical examination of the damaged skin.

Treatment involves avoiding the irritating substance if possible. Otherwise, the person can use petroleum jelly on the hands underneath cotton and then rubber gloves.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: rash with well-defined border, itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, painful rash, red rash

Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis: rash with well-defined border

Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis: fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes

Urgency: Self-treatment

Stye and chalazion

A stye (or hordeolum) is an infection in the upper or lower eyelid. There are three glands around the eye and one of them is infected.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: swelling of one eyelid, redness around the eye, feeling of something in the eye, eyelid lump, eyelid pain

Symptoms that always occur with stye and chalazion: swelling of one eyelid

Symptoms that never occur with stye and chalazion: fever

Urgency: Self-treatment

Shingles (herpes zoster)

Shingles is a painful rash that results when the varicella zoster virus (VZV) — the same virus that causes the chickenpox — becomes reactivated. It results in a painful rash of small fluid-filled blisters (vesicles) over a single strip of skin on one side of the body..

Orbital cellulitis

Orbital Cellulitis is an uncommon condition in which an infection has breached or circumvented the outer portion of the eye and affected the tissues of the orbit, also known a..

Questions your doctor may ask about redness around the eye

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Do you have a stuffy nose?
  • Did you possibly brush into poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac?
  • Do you have dry eyes?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

Worried about a condition?

Take a thorough self-assessment of your symptoms to find the cause.

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Redness around the eye symptom checker statistics

People who have experienced redness around the eye have also experienced:

  • 6% Eye Redness
  • 5% Swelling Of The Eye Area
  • 4% Eye Pain

People who have experienced redness around the eye were most often matched with:

  • 50% Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
  • 25% Inflamed Eyelid (Blepharitis)
  • 25% Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant.

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