Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition that affects various parts of the body. It can cause skin symptoms that affect any area of the body, including the eyelids.

Psoriasis develops when an issue arises in the immune system, resulting in an overgrowth of skin cells. The extra cells form plaques, or patches, on the body. It is possible for a person to experience these symptoms on their eyelids.

Several treatment options can help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis, but some are likely unsuitable for use on the eyelids.

Read on for information about how psoriasis affects the eyelids and what you can do to relieve it.

There are several types of psoriasis, and plaque psoriasis is the most common. It involves the development of patches, or plaques, of extra skin cells.

These can form thick scales that may be itchy and painful. Psoriasis tends to be pink or red on those with light or fair skin tones, and the scales are silvery-white. On medium skin tones, it can appear salmon-colored with silvery-white scales. On darker skin tones, psoriasis may look violet with gray scales. It can also appear dark brown and difficult to see.

The plaques commonly affect the scalp, joints, hands, and feet, but they can appear almost anywhere on the body, including the face and eyelids.

Learn more about psoriasis on the face here.

Psoriasis on or around the eyelids can be difficult to manage because the skin in this area is very sensitive.

Some of the symptoms of eyelid psoriasis include:

  • skin discoloration, scaling, and crusting around the eyelids
  • the rims of the eyes turning upward or downward
  • irritation, including pain and itching
  • eyelashes that rub on the eye
  • scales that resemble dandruff flaking off and sticking to the eyelashes
  • pain when moving the eye

Inflammation can lead to swelling, which may cause the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball.

If the inflammation continues, the edges of the eyelids may turn upward or downward. If they become inverted, the lashes can rub against the eyeball. Irritation and other complications can develop as a result.

In rare cases, psoriasis can affect the eye, leading to inflammation, dryness, discomfort, and possibly vision loss.

The exact causes of psoriasis are unclear, and its development may be multifactorial.

Changes to a person’s immune system may be a factor in the development of psoriasis. In people with psoriasis, the body’s natural defenses can react abnormally and cause rapid growth and turnover of skin cells.

There may also be a genetic component to psoriasis development. People with a family history of psoriasis are more likely to have the condition than those without.

Learn more about the hereditary aspect of psoriasis here.

Psoriasis triggers

While immune function and genetics may play a role in the development of psoriasis, an environmental trigger is usually necessary for symptoms to appear.

Environmental triggers include:

  • infections
  • stress
  • some medications
  • sunburn
  • skin damage due to an injury, bite, or other trauma

Learn more about avoiding psoriasis triggers here.

A person should see a doctor if they notice:

  • any new symptoms of psoriasis, especially on the eyelids
  • worsening symptoms
  • adverse effects of medication

A doctor will assess a person’s condition and create a treatment plan to manage symptoms. Treatment options will depend on the type of psoriasis, the person’s medical history, and the severity of their symptoms.

Treatment options include:

Topical therapy

A doctor may prescribe an ointment containing corticosteroids or another ingredient.

In rare cases, doctors may recommend specially formulated steroid ointments to treat psoriasis around the eyes.

A doctor must supervise the careful application of the ointment, as the skin of the eyelids is vulnerable to damage, and complications can arise with long-term use. A person may need regular appointments with an ophthalmologist to assess for glaucoma or cataracts.

Doctors may also prescribe tacrolimus or Protopic ointments for psoriasis. These medications primarily treat atopic dermatitis, known as eczema, but they can help reduce inflammation and dryness in psoriasis.

Learn more about topical treatments for psoriasis here.

Systemic medications

Depending on how severely psoriasis affects the eyelids and how well the area reacts to other treatments, a doctor may prescribe a systemic oral or injectable medication.

These include:

These types of medication can have adverse effects. Doctors usually prescribe them for short-term use to manage a flare, a period when symptoms worsen.

Learn more about the differences between topical and systemic therapies for psoriasis here.

Biologic therapy

This is an emerging form of treatment that targets specific components of the immune system. It appears to help reduce the number of flares and severity of symptoms.

A doctor will consider the type of psoriasis and severity of symptoms when deciding whether to prescribe a biologic drug.

Current guidelines recommend prescribing a biologic drug when symptoms are moderate to severe.

Learn more about biologic treatments for psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a multisystem condition that can involve various parts of the body. Around 1 in 3 people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which affects the joints.

As psoriatic arthritis affects more than just the skin, it can lead to further complications, such as uveitis, which is inflammation within the eye. Although it is rare, it can cause inflammation, dryness, and discomfort. Without treatment, it can have a drastic effect on eyesight.

Medication side effects

A doctor may prescribe a steroid cream to reduce inflammation, but this can have adverse effects.

In a 2017 review, researchers found that using steroids around the eyes can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, and possibly vision loss. Therefore, a doctor should monitor the use of these medications.

It is important to follow a doctor’s recommendations and instructions when using topical or oral steroids.

In some cases, infections can develop. A doctor will then prescribe antibiotics.

A person should follow their treatment plan for psoriasis, but they can also support this with some home remedies.

Follow these tips to treat eyelid psoriasis at home:

  • Use cool water to soothe the skin.
  • Use sensitive cleaning products.
  • Avoid hot water, as it can dry out the skin.

Psoriasis is a multisystem condition. It does not only affect the area where symptoms appear. For this reason, a person with any type of psoriasis might benefit from treating the whole body.

A 2018 review concluded that the following alternative or complementary therapies may help people with psoriasis:

A person should use alternative therapies together with their medical treatment plan and not as a replacement. They should also speak to a doctor before trying anything new or making any major changes.

Discover 12 ways to treat psoriasis at home.

Some daily habits and activities can worsen the symptoms of eyelid psoriasis. In the sections below, we discuss how to continue these activities while preventing the development of psoriasis symptoms on the eyelids.

Makeup

Makeup can reduce the appearance of skin discoloration and scales, but people with psoriasis should choose makeup for sensitive skin.

Makeup can also interfere with the topical medications a person is using and further irritate the eyelid.

People with psoriasis should speak to a doctor or dermatologist about the best ways to use makeup to manage eyelid psoriasis.

Eyebrow piercings

For people with psoriasis, eyebrow piercings may increase the risk of experiencing a flare near the eye, as piercing, tattoos, and other types of skin trauma can trigger symptoms.

Contact lenses

As long as a person applies their topical medication appropriately and it does not go into their eyes, there should be no issues with wearing contact lenses.

A person may find that a particular brand of contact lens or solution causes additional irritation, but other than that, there should be no additional complications.

Psoriasis can be a challenging condition to live with, especially if it affects the eyelids. This is because the skin around this area is very sensitive.

Anyone who notices new symptoms or is concerned about existing symptoms should see a doctor, as many treatment options are available.

Read this article in Spanish.