The Mysterious Eye Rash…Allergy?

The Mysterious Eye Rash…Allergy?


As some of you may know from my Snapchat, I have recently recovered from a strange under-eye rash that had been bothering me since the end of February.  It started out small, only under one eye, and then it spread to both eyes.  My vision/ eyes were not affected whatsoever–just the skin underneath them (lower eyelids).

While trying to figure out a cure, I went searching the internet and only found a couple of useful articles…and almost zero photos.  So…I’m writing this in the hopes that someone else may find use/benefit from my experience!  I was about to delete all the pics from my phone but decided that they would be useful for this article.   Also, if there’s anyone out there who has had a similar reaction before, let me know in the comments!

As a preface note: I’ve never had an allergic reaction like this before, no history of eczema or psoriasis, no food allergies that I know of, and no allergic reactions before except to Mary Kay makeup when I was young, and another time in Dubai I got hives from something I ate (to this day I wasn’t sure what it was).

Part 1: The Beginning

I woke up one morning near the end of February with a tiny rash on my lower eyelid.  It was small, and I figured I must have scratched myself in my sleep or something like that.  I didn’t take it too seriously.   I usually wear concealer, so it didn’t affect my daily routine…just something strange I saw in the mornings and then evenings after washing off my makeup.

A couple days later, it was still there.  And it hadn’t gotten any smaller.  In my ignorance, I got some Vaseline to put on it at night…which didn’t help.

About two weeks later, I decided to go see an optometrist–I figured I must have done something wrong in caring for my contact lenses or maybe my tear duct had gotten clogged.  I was instructed to use a warm compress for five minutes twice a day, then the eye scrub sheets, and then a prescription eye drop for good measure.

For reference, this was how my eye looked on the day after I saw the optometrist:

Which is better than it looked on the 13th!

I did what the doctor said — religiously, to the letter.  And my eye seemed to be getting better!

…I was a bit impatient because I was filming on the 17th…but it was almost gone by then!

As you can see — it wasn’t fully gone, but it seemed to be better.

So…I didn’t take pics on the 19th or 20th because I figured we were good to go…that it was gone. But turns out it wasn’t the case:

I had no idea why it wasn’t going away…but I decided to stop taking photos because my trip to Tokyo was coming up, and maybe focusing on the problem would make it bigger…

Well, the rash didn’t go away, and it ended up spreading to my other eye as well! See below on April 8th (taken while I was in Tokyo):

I thought maybe the change of scene/air would have cured it, but nothing changed! At this point I figured it must have been something in my makeup, or an infection/virus, or eczema? but I’d never had eczema…

Still not getting better!?

As you can see, not much progress…and covering it up with concealer didn’t help much-esp. when the skin was peeling!

At the time, I thought it just wasn’t hydrated enough…but even La Mer “the eye” concentrate couldn’t cure it.

Fast-forward to April 16th, when I returned to LA:

 As you can see — slightly better? But maybe it was just the lighting!

I made an appointment to see a dermatologist.  When I met with her on the 17th, she informed me that I am suffering from an allergy.  She reminded me that the skin under the eye is more sensitive than our skin anywhere else, and to be cognizant of the kinds of shampoos, creams, makeup, and fragrances I’m coming into contact with.

I was confused–I hadn’t changed any of my products recently! She understood my frustration, and added that they could prescribe an ointment that is used to treat eczema in children–it’s called “Tacrolimus” — and to be aware that insurance can be difficult with this one.  I nodded, confident that my insurance was great and I’d have no problem in getting the script filled.  Well, even Aetna requires pre-authorization for Tacrolimus (though if I didn’t want to wait, I could pay $220 for a tube).  I agreed to wait (I’d been dealing with this for about two months at this point, what’s a few days more?)

Well, the pre-authorization took nearly 2 weeks.  Here is how the rash fared (mind you, I learned the hard way that putting Vaseline on a rash like this makes it worse– putting it on at night will make your eyes puffy in the morning!).

April 27th was a Friday–it was the day I found out they had re-submitted the pre-authorization because my insurance had denied the original request (because the doctor had written “eyelid dermatitis” instead of “atopic dermatitis”!) The doctor told me to use hydrocortisone cream 1% (the one you can get from CVS for like 5 bucks)– twice a day until the medication is approved, then I should switch to the tacrolimus.

I started using it on April 28th in the evening:

How did I apply it? I first applied my own eye cream, then waited about 10 minutes for it to be absorbed before applying the cortisone.  As you can see, I woke up to a huge improvement on the 29th! I applied the cream on Sunday morning and evening, and then on the 30th in the morning.  During the day they informed me that my prescription was ready to be picked up! I wasn’t sure I needed it at that point, but picked it up anyway and used it that night and also on May 1st in the evening.  I had read reviews about Tacrolimus causing a burning sensation — it felt a little warm throughout the night–not burning, but warm.

By May 3rd I stopped taking photos because it looks almost 100% back-to-normal!

However, I still to this day have NO idea what the allergy is/was, so I am doing the allergy tests in the coming weeks! Wish me luck!

Love you guys!

P.S. I really hope I’m not allergic to gluten…or milk…because I love ice cream & cookies.

P.P.S. I can’t believe I suffered for almost 2 months when I could have gone to a pharmacy and used hydrocortisone from the beginning! *Lesson learned*

This Post Has 51 Comments

  1. Michele

    What was the outcome of your allergy testing? My daughter woke up with the same weird under the eyelid rash this morning – she’s 4. So thankful for your article! We will try hydrocortisone cream tomorrow!

    1. admin

      Inconclusive! I did two allergy tests and they said I wasn’t allergic to anything. The only remaining test was a dermatologist’s skin patch test which I opted not to do yet (as it takes longer to see results and apparently you can’t shower for 48 hours…)

      1. Michele

        Crazy! And you’ve had no recurrence to date?

        1. admin

          Not as bad as before — if I feel that it looks a bit red, I put on some tacrolimus or hydrocortisone before going to bed and it’s all cleared up by morning!
          Hope this helps! Hopefully daughter’s rash clears up quickly.

    2. Jamie

      I have the same thing. Eczema cream seems to just make it puffy. Anyone think the occurrence and worsening is stress related?

      1. Shellya

        Thank you for putting this article. I am also going through the same issue but found very little information about this situation. Your article and information is so crisp and correct, it make the picture very clear.

  2. Kasey

    I have the same thing…I’m going on about 2ish weeks and nothing I use seems to make any difference. I used a eye cream last night and it seemed to make things much worst. But I will be going out tomorrow to try that anti itch cream. I also do not have any previous known allergies. I also dont wear makeup (which I did yesterday so that could also be why my eyes are worst today). My experience is the same I thought I scratched under my eye WAY too hard until I noticed it on the other side too a couple days later. It’s a little itchy and a little stingy but nothing unbearable and nothing really noticable unless I’m focusing on it. I have a doctor’s appointment set up but I’ve had no luck with doctors lately and I have no faith in them at this point. What ever kind of rash makes me feel and look absolutely ridiculous.

    1. admin

      Oh wow! Hope the appointment went well and that you are doing better now…when I wrote this post I had no idea how many other people would relate!
      Hope that the cream helped!

  3. Emma

    OMG! The EXACT same thing has been happening to me on an off for almost a year now!! I haven’t been able to find anyone else who also experiences the rash ONLY under the eyes. Its so frustrating I literally just got back from the doctors where I was prescribed an antihistamine for my mystery allergy. Thanks for posting, makes me feel a little less crazy that this is happening to someone else!

    1. admin

      For sure! Hope it goes away soon!! Let me know what works for healing

    2. Kerry

      I started with this same under-eye rash, as did my son, in March of 2019. We continue to get it on and off. We were prescribed an antifungal and steroid. We use hydrocortisone when we flare up, but nothing has cured it. One thing I wonder is if our laundry detergent or crystals are causing it. We use Arm n Hammer detergent and crystals for scent boost. Does anyone else use that? We also have some mold growth in our bathroom that we are consistently scrubbing away and I wonder if we’re reacting to that. It’s such a frustrating ailment, especially for a teen who’s already sensitive about his skin.

      1. Sheila

        I just run across this post not even a few minutes ago reading through the reviews because my daughter who is 5 years old has this exact same issue. And absolutely yes I use the arm & Hammer scent crystals! I noticed I have been a little bit more itchy than usual as, well, since I’ve been using them. Coincidental that we are in the same post and we both use the same product and our LO’s have the same issue. I’m going to quit using them for about a week and see how things turn about.

  4. Jemma

    Exact same thing has happened to me, first it was in one eye and I’d gone to the mall a few days before and one of those 24k gold mask places put some cream under my eye, then a week later it had a rash, it’s been there for 3 weeks and now moved to other eye too. I also have not other issues/ allergies

  5. D

    I will be trying the hydrocortisone cream 1%. This has been going on with for almost a week and it is driving me crazy.

    I did recently use A Mary Kay mascara as well, BUT, it could be allergies. In the past my eyes have puffed up not itched this bad because of allergies and pollen in the air. But honestly, that has last for less than a day and then dissappeared.

    I probably will take benedryl later as well.

    Thank you for sharing your unfortunate experience.

    1. admin

      Good luck! Let me know what happens!!

  6. melissa

    I had the same situation as yours!
    Although in my case, I have a previous history of eczema/ dermatitis and this kind of rash around the eyes was totally different from what I had in the past. I’m still trying to figure out the cause behind these since I haven’t change any of my skin care products. One of my suspicion, in my experience, was probably due to lack of sleep for 2 (or more) consecutive days— wherein I wake up with a mild redness and puffiness around the eyes which worsen throughout the day.
    I did self-medicate and it just made the rash horrible, so I decided to see the dermatologist. The doctor prescribed a mild cortisone for a week and a cream (Dexapanthenol- a cream used to cure nappy rash) to use twice a day for a month.
    This medications helped a lot… on a short-term basis. Unfortunately, I’m experiencing it again after I finished using the prescription for a month .
    I’m going to see the dermatologist again and I’m hoping for a specific diagnosis for this kind of condition.

    1. admin

      Thanks for sharing your story! I hope that you get some answers from the dermatologist soon!

  7. felicia

    Thie exact thing has been happening to me for months and it’s been hell. Concealer burns it, vaseline makes it puffy, and it’s so confusing because it’s only one my one eye and I’ve had the same skincare routine for years. I’m going to go pick up hydrocortisone asap thank u so much for this its literally the only thing ive found online about this.

    1. admin

      Hey, thanks for your comment! Hope it clears up soon!

    2. Sarah

      Concealer burns mine too! Its super dry under my eye and has bumps. My makeup routine hasn’t changed and its all products I’ve used for ever and never had a problem with.

  8. Amanda

    Oh wow, these are the only images I have seen that even compare to my eye! I think mine started with allergies, specifically to a cat, but after my eyeball itself felt better, the skin under it remained swollen, red, and had skin flaking off. Tried coconut oil, my own eye cream I normally use, and cortisone, all separately, to no avail. Finally went to the Dr. she prescribed me elidel, which is supposed to treat eczema, but it ends up getting into my eyeball and stinging so I only use it at night, and it doesn’t seem to help anyway. I’m calling tomorrow to get in to see a dermatologist.. wish me luck, or let me know if you have any advice, I am grateful for your post!

    1. admin

      Thanks for your comment! I wish I had more advice…mine still comes back once in a while — moisturizer and cortisone cream seem to do the trick. Let us know what the dermatologist says!

  9. Kelsey

    Same! I’ve been dealing with this for almost 5 months now! I’m trying to cut out gluten and have been drinking celery juice for 2 weeks. 😩

    1. admin

      Wow! I had read something about salt intake affecting water retention / causing puffy eyes…interesting! Let us know how it goes!

  10. Teresa

    Hi! I’m an optometry student doing research for a patient I saw with this same thing, similar timeline, and similar appearance! Her allergy tests came back inconclusive as well. Hopefully someone finds something soon!

  11. Amanda Weller

    Hi, I had commented that I had the same skin problem under my eyes awhile ago and thought I’d update yall.. I ended up having a punch biopsy and it was determined to just be atopic dermatitis, so am trying almond oil, as was suggested by someone else..

  12. Sarah

    I have the same thing on my eye and its starting to spread to my other! Im not allergic to anything that I know of and Im not using any new products. I have no idea what is causing it but its be going on for about a month. Im going to try the cream and see if it helps!

  13. Megan

    This is currently happening to me! I don’t know what to do 🙁 hydrocortisone and Vaseline both don’t work. What seems to work for me so far is face wash with salicylic acid and my mostirizer.

  14. Angel

    Thank you so much for documenting this! The same thing is happening to me. Even the pictures look the same, except on my right eye the puffiness moved down my cheek. I thought I had scratched the skin under my eye as well, until it showed up on the other eye. My under eyes have become wrinkly with flaky skin (like I haven’t slept in days lol). I’m going to try hydrocortisone and see if it helps! Thanks again!

    1. admin

      oh sorry to hear that you are going through the same thing! Do you live in a dry climate too? (LA’s humidity is 39% where I am)

      1. Angel

        Hello, I live in MN and it is very dry in the winter. I tried the hydrocortisone and it worked! It burned pretty badly at first but now my under eyes no longer itch and are almost completely healed! Thanks again!

  15. Angelica

    Thank you for posting with pictures! This is the second time I have had this and still not sure why. Just like yours under one eye and won’t go away. Trying the cream today. I do have several food allergies however but usually they cause migraines, the rash is a new one.

  16. Nakita

    Hello and thank you so much for posting this ! I’ve been battling the same issue for about 4 months now off and on. Every time it heals it comes back a week or so later. It gets super red sometimes blue and red , itchy and burns like heck! When it starts healing it flakes and peels. I can’t win! I hadn’t changed any products before this happened either. Thought I was allergic to the latex in my eye lash glue so I switched that. Switched my face wipes to Sensitive hypoallergenic . I’ve tried Vaseline(which helps me) the dryness is unbearable , neosporin, Zyrtec, the .01% hydrocortisone, prescription allergy pills (hydroxyzine), and erythromycin ointment prescribed by a doc. I have dry eye so I also use Thera tears. Nothing is working ! I’ve had the regular outdoor allergy test done. That was no help. I do have some food allergies so a food allergy test is my next try. This was the only thing I could find online that was even close to what my problem is.

    1. Heidi

      Your symptoms sound exactly like mine. I have had doctors tell me it’s eczema and put me on steroids. Then a dermatologist say it’s contact dermatitis and had me change everything from laundry soap to shampoos and pillows. Then they thought lupus and had me tested. Now with COVID it’s on a pause sending me anywhere else. I just want to be better. No history of eczema or psoriasis or allergies. I did have a basic allergy test but they didn’t think allergies were causing it.

  17. Amanda

    Thanks for posting! I haven’t been able to find anything else online that comes close to what I have until finally stumbling on this article! My first flare up was in September 2019 and I also thought I have scratched my eye. I reached out to my friend who is a dermatologist and she recommended hydrocortisone cream. It was the only thing that helped! Now it just flared up again today (March 2020) so I’m using the cream again. I came online trying to figure out WHY it’s flaring up. I wonder what we are all allergic to!

        1. admin

          Never heard of it! I wonder if some of the ingredients were close to something I have used…

        2. Hilda

          Yes, this cream cause the same reaction on my skin.

        3. Brianne

          I do use that cream as well!!! The banana cream from Olehenrikson. But I had been using it for months before my reaction happened.. Why would it cause a reaction out of the sudden? That is so strange. Maybe it would be a mix of when I started using mascara and castor oil on my lashes.. Sometimes I react to the cream, and some other times I don’t. Yesterday, my eyes reacted like crazy – but I don’t know if it’s because of the sun, my dog or the cream. Maybe a combination of all?
          Would anyone know why?

  18. Hilda

    Thanks so much for posting this. Wow! I did use the Olehenrikson Banana Bright Eye Cream also. There must be an ingredient in that cream that causes my skin to react.

  19. Edna

    I had the same issue under one eye and had been using vaseline at night, thinking it was just dry skin. I was waking up with redness and puffiness. As soon as I read your blog I ran to buy hydrocortisone and two days later, my eye is pretty much back to normal. Thank you!

    1. admin

      So so happy to read your comment!
      I also tried Vaseline one night (before trying hydrocortisone) and…let’s just say makeup could not cover my situation the next morning, ugh.

  20. Aditi

    omg, thank you. My daughter had something similar since few weeks now, it did not bother her much but it was getting very flaky and she even ended up scratching it one day while sleeping and bruised it . Swelling got definitely more after vaseline. I tried the 1% hydrocortisone and it cleared up completely in 2 days. I still can’t figure out how it started. She did try in some Claire’s makeup on her and we did recent start using in wash purex crystals for fragrance boost. I was going crazy trying all sort of fixes and moisturizing every day. You are a blessing and this mom is so thankful. I will keep following to see if anyone can figure out the reason for this allergy

    1. admin

      So glad that this helped! <3 & keep me posted!

      1. Aditi

        It helped and definitely cleared up. But a week later after stopping hydrocortisone, its back again 🙁 After reading comments, I knew it can come back but was not hoping so frequently 🙁
        My daughter only ate one new stuff yet, was that lunchables taco chips kit. Its definitely sunny and warm. She has always been bad at drinking water.
        I started hydrocortisone cream again today. Will try to keep food log this time

  21. Aditi

    It helped and definitely cleared up. But a week later after stopping hydrocortisone, its back again 🙁 After reading comments, I knew it can come back but was not hoping so frequently 🙁
    My daughter only ate one new stuff yet, was that lunchables taco chips kit. Its definitely sunny and warm. She has always been bad at drinking water.
    I started hydrocortisone cream again today. Will try to keep food log this time

    1. Aditi

      She had kiwis, corn, lunchables taco chips kit, walked around garden area. Also adding some out of regular stuff she did before allergy started, so if other people had similar stuff before allergy started we can narrow down.

  22. Pinu

    I’ve also had this since March. Woke up with a weird rash on my bottom left lid and then spread to my top lid and now swollen. Was put on steroid drops which did help but after stopping it’s come back. Really fed up not being able to wear make up as my skin feels like it’s burning and swollen. Haven’t found a cure 🙁 really affecting self esteem.

  23. Lauren

    I’ve had this problem for 2 YEARS maybe slightly more than that, but it’s on and off when it appears…then goes and then appears again!
    Docs prescribed moisturiser and hydrocortisone 1%, been using hydrocortisone since January and that did clear it, stopped using it I think for abit and it’s now back again!
    Seems to be worse in the winter months than summer, but can flare up all year round. I’ve never had allergies or been allergic to anything. Thought it might be diet as I’m vegetarian but I’m leaning towards probably not.
    Docs first said it was stress related, now dust related…
    still no answers!

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