If the skin around your eyes becomes itchy, red, puffy or scaly after using makeup, you have probably developed an allergy or sensitivity to one of your cosmetics. The whites of your eyes may also become red and swollen. Depending on the offending material, the reaction may continue to get worsen, or may clear up spontaneously. The allergic reaction usually involves both eyes, but one side may be more affected than the other.

The eyelid and surrounding areas is especially vulnerable because its skin is extremely thin and loose, allowing chemicals to penetrate more easily. This may cause the skin to swell more readily than on other parts of the face.

An allergy is your body’s reaction to “foreign” substances. The basic ingredients of all cosmetics are waxes, oils, detergents, dyes, perfumes, lanolin, and preservatives. Any of these can cause an allergic reaction in the delicate skin around your eyes.

It might seem strange to suddenly become allergic to a makeup you have been using for years. Actually, your body has probably been slowly building up a sensitivity to the makeup. Once an allergic response to a substance occurs, the reaction usually gets worse every time you use that substance.

The first step in treatment is to stop using the offending material. Since you usually can’t identify the specific culprit, all cosmetics should be stopped until the reaction clears up. A steroid ointment may be prescribed to aid in clearing the allergic reaction.

To prevent recurrences, it is important to find the exact cause of the problem. This will equire some detective work. After your skin has cleared, start using one makeup product at a time. After one week, if there is no reaction, add another product. Continue adding one product each week until your skin gets red and itchy again. Then eliminate the last product that caused the reaction.

You may also need to use hypo-allergic cosmetics, which tend to cause fewer and less severe allergic reactions. This is because they contain fewer allergy-causing substances. Some cosmetics that are labeled hypo-allergenic really aren’t.  It is important to read the label. Don’t use any product that contains lanolin and perfume, the most common causes of skin reactions.

If your skin can’t even tolerate hypo-allergenic products, you may be able to use non-allergenic cosmetics. They do not contain any chemicals that can cause allergies.

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