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Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that takes skin flaking to a whole new level, and no amount of lotion will do the trick.
Unlike a flaky Tinder date, think of psoriasis as that persistent ex that keeps creeping up with a “WYD” text. There’s no cure, but it can be treated. (And we don’t mean “new phone, who dis?”)
For peeps with psoriasis, remission is possible. You may go days, months, or even years without a flare-up. But no matter where you’re at in the treatment process, psoriasis can return.
The elbows and knees are most likely to be affected, but nothing is off limits for psoriasis — not even fingernails or joints. In fact, 10 percent of those with psoriasis will develop the condition on their eyelids.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
Psoriasis happens when your skin cell factory has zero chill and creates too many cells, which leads to a build-up of thick, scaly patches (aka plaques) on the skin’s surface that burn and itch.
All of this can irritate and swell the sensitive skin around your peepers. Plaques could become large enough that they prevent your eyes from opening and closing.
Other symptoms include:
- cracked, dry skin in the eye area
- silvery scales that flake off, similar to dandruff
- difficulty opening and closing your eyes
- eyelashes that stick into the eye because of plaques pushing on the eyelid
- dry eyes and flaky skin surrounding the eyes
- discomfort when moving your eyelids
Nobody knows exactly what causes psoriasis, but a glitch in the immune system combined with genetics are two likely factors. Even though psoriasis tends to be a family affair, an environmental trigger usually sparks the onset of the condition.
Some possible environmental triggers include:
- cold weather
- certain medications (i.e., lithium, beta blockers, and drugs for malaria)
- injury to the skin
It’s a mystery as to why some people experience psoriasis near their eyes while others don’t.
It’s tempting to get crafty with at-home treatments, but you’ll want to talk to your doctor before trying anything on your own. As with cutting your own bangs and waxing your bikini line, unintended side effects can happen to anyone.
At-home treatments are intended to supplement (not replace) traditional treatments prescribed by a doctor.
The skin around your eyes is already super sensitive and dry. Add psoriasis, winter weather, and a splash of hot water to the mix, and your skin will go full emo. Wash with cool water instead and only use doctor approved soaps like CeraVe.
Some psoriasis-friendly ingredients to look for:
- salicylic acid
- zinc pyrithione
A recent medical review reported the following complementary treatments or alternative medicines (CAM) are most effective for soothing psoriasis:
Proper hygiene won’t prevent psoriasis, but it can help you avoid infection.
Here are some tips:
Go au naturel
Makeup formulated for sensitive skin can help conceal redness and scales, but proceed with caution around your eyes. Some makeup can interfere with topical medications and are too irritating for sensitive eyelid skin.
Raise a brow at piercings
Talk to your doctor or dermatologist before channeling your inner Post Malone. An eyebrow piercing or tattoo may give you some edge, but it can push your psoriasis over the edge. Piercings and tattoos around the eye (or anywhere) damage the skin and can trigger a psoriasis flare-up.
The two OG approaches to treating psoriasis around the eyes are topical and systemic medications. Topical treatments are applied directly to the affected skin, while systemic medications are injected or taken orally.
Topical treatments are ideal for mild or moderate cases of psoriasis. Use these alongside Vitamin D for extra effectiveness.
Some popular topical options include:
- salicylic acid
Eyelid skin can damage easily, so topical treatments are not advised for long-term use.
These can be effective at treating psoriasis scales, but overuse can cause glaucoma and/or cataracts. It’s important to schedule regular checkups with an ophthalmologist to confirm glaucoma and cataracts aren’t forming.
Protopic ointment or Elidel cream is a good alternative to topical steroids and is safe for use around the eyes. Neither one of these are linked to glaucoma or cataracts. They work by targeting the immune system. What’s the catch? You might experience a stinging sensation for the first few days of use.
The best option if you’re scared of the dark, phototherapy is the exposure to light as a form of healing. In order to be effective, 2–3 treatments per week are recommended.
Some forms of phototherapy include:
- natural sunlight
- laser treatment
- goeckerman therapy (coal tar combined with UVB treatments)
- PUVA (UVB with psoralen)
Phototherapy may not be for you if your skin is light sensitive.
Unlike its topical sisters, systemic medications are injected or taken orally. They’re used to treat severe cases of psoriasis.
These treatments include oral steroids, methotrexate, or oral retinoids. They target the immune system and are often budget-friendly. They do carry some adverse side effect warnings, such as an increased risk for liver damage or infection.
Biologics are growing in popularity (kinda like kombucha). Biologics are used for more severe cases of psoriasis, and work by targeting the T-cells that play a lead role in the development of psoriasis.
They carry an increased risk for infections and other serious side effects, so you’ll want to discuss them with your doctor.
Remember those pesky environmental triggers for psoriasis? There are certain risk factors that may trigger a flare-up.
Psoriasis likes to keep you on your toes. Simply having psoriasis increases your risk for developing it around your eyes, on your nails, or even on your joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis.
There are also some other risk factors to consider:
The National Psoriasis Foundation reports a 10 percent chance of developing psoriasis if one parent has it. If both parents have psoriasis, those chances jump to 50 percent.
Not to pile on the stress, but stress and anxiety can weaken your immune system. A weakened immune system puts you at risk for a flare-up. Try these stress relieving activities for psoriasis.
Infections are potential side effects of many psoriasis treatments. On top of that, bacteria or viral infections weaken the immune system and increase your risk of psoriasis.
Psoriasis can also develop underneath the skin. This is known as inverse psoriasis. It appears in the form of red, smooth lesions on the skin, and is more common in larger bodies with more skin folds.
Smoking not only increases your risk for psoriasis, but it also makes you more likely to develop a severe case. Just say no!
A rare complication of psoriasis is uveitis, or inflammation of the inner eye. This can cause dryness and discomfort, and it may lead to vision loss.
The inflammation of uveitis is usually treated with steroid creams, but as mentioned above, using steroid treatments around the eyes can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, and blindness.
Your eyes are sensitive and so is the skin surrounding them. If you develop psoriasis on your eyelids, you can treat it with care. Some places to start?
- Talk to your doctor about combining traditional medications with at-home remedies like essential oils, acupuncture, dietary changes, and supplements.
- Use cold water to cleanse, since hot water will further irritate your skin.
- Practice exceptional hygiene. It won’t prevent psoriasis, but it can help you ward off infections, which are more common while taking certain psoriasis medications.
Your healthcare provider should be your BFF when it comes to managing psoriasis. They can monitor your medications and make sure you aren’t becoming resistant or developing any dangerous side effects.