Red rings around the eyes can occur due to various reasons, including aging, allergens, and underlying conditions. Sometimes, home remedies will suffice to address the cause. Other times, people may require medical treatment.

The accompanying symptoms and treatment will depend on the cause of red rings around the eyes.

In this article, we examine the common causes of red rings around the eyes. We also look at diagnosis and potential treatments.

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema that occurs when a person comes into contact with an allergen that causes a reaction. It may affect various parts of the body, including the areas around the eyes and eyelids.

There are two types of contact dermatitis: allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis may include:

According to one case study, allergic contact dermatitis is the most common cause of eyelid dermatitis.

Irritant dermatitis may cause rings to form around the eyes due to exposure to a chemical or other substance. Some possible irritants include sunscreen, makeup, or dust.

Common treatments for contact dermatitis may include:

  • ice or cold packs
  • steroid injections or oral medication

A person should avoid applying a topical cream around their eyes unless a doctor directs them to do so.

The skin around a person’s eyes starts to thin and sag as they age, which may lead to discoloration. Smoking, allergies, and fluid retention can all contribute to the development of eye bags or rings.

Typically, red rings around the eyes associated with aging are harmless.

According to the National Institute on Aging, however, a person can adopt the following habits to boost their eye health as they age:

Preseptal cellulitis and orbital cellulitis are two similar infections of the eyes.

Preseptal cellulitis affects surface tissue, such as the eyelids and surrounding skin. Orbital cellulitis affects areas within the eye and surrounding tissue.

Both can cause symptoms such as:

Preseptal cellulitis does not cause pain or loss of vision.

Orbital cellulitis, however, can cause blurry or double vision, bulging of the eye, and pain when a person tries to move the eye. Without treatment, orbital cellulitis may cause permanent vision loss.

Both infections typically respond to intravenous antibiotics. Sometimes, however, a person may need surgery.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, usually affecting children aged 5 years and older. It is rare for the condition to develop in adults, but it can occur. It can also continue from childhood.

Atopic dermatitis may cause redness around the eyes and put a person at greater risk of developing eye infections, such as pink eye or an inflamed cornea.

Other symptoms of atopic dermatitis include:

  • bumps
  • rash
  • redness
  • irritation
  • itchiness
  • scaly patches

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, there is no cure for atopic dermatitis.

Doctors typically treat the symptoms of the condition and may recommend:

  • taking care of the skin with bathing, moisturizing, and being gentle with the skin
  • avoiding triggers
  • trying light therapy

A person should seek guidance from their doctor before using ointments or creams around the eyes.

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids due to bacteria or other infections, and it may cause irritation and redness on or around the eyes. It can also cause dandruff-like flakes to appear on the eyelashes.

Symptoms of blepharitis may include:

  • watery eyes
  • burning sensation in the eyes
  • red, swollen, and itchy eyelids
  • dry eyes
  • crusting of the eyelids

Treatment typically involves using home remedies. People can try to treat blepharitis by:

  • gently cleaning the area around the eyelashes
  • using dandruff shampoo on the eyelids
  • using artificial tears
  • avoiding using contact lenses
  • avoiding wearing eye makeup

A person with blepharitis should avoid touching their eyes. If they accidentally touch their eyes, they should thoroughly wash their hands.

To diagnose the cause of red rings around the eyes, a doctor will likely conduct an eye examination.

If a person has a rash on other parts of the body, they should tell their doctor about it.

A doctor will likely ask about other symptoms the person is experiencing. This may help the doctor determine what might be causing the redness around the eyes.

People should speak with their doctor if they develop unexplained red circles around the eyes, particularly if they co-occur with other symptoms. A doctor can help determine the cause of their symptoms.

If treatment for red circles around the eyes is not effective, or if other symptoms persist or worsen, a person should speak with their doctor. There may be another treatment approach that will work better.

If a person has a rash that is not going away, they should tell their doctor about the rash.

Red rings around the eyes may be the result of several common conditions, some of which can be severe. In other cases, they could result from a minor skin reaction or aging.

A person should speak with their doctor about treating rashes near their eyes and avoid using ointments and creams unless directed to do so.

Additionally, a person should seek guidance from their doctor if a rash does not go away within a few days.