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J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2010 Mar;8(3):159-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1610-0387.2009.07216.x. Epub 2009 Sep 14.

Periorbital dermatitis: causes, differential diagnoses and therapy.

[Article in English, German]

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-N├╝rnberg, Germany.


Periorbital dermatitis is common and frequently difficult to treat. Patients with periorbital dermatitis often suffer severely because their disease is in such a visible location. Because of the variety of clinical appearance, the differential diagnostic considerations are often difficult. We examined the causes of periorbital dermatitis and compared the data of 88 patients from the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Erlangen to those of the German IVDK (Information Network of the Departments of Dermatology). Between 1999 and 2004, predominant causes of periorbital dermatitis were allergic contact dermatitis (Erlangen 44%, IVDK 32%), atopic eczema (Erlangen 25%, IVDK 14%), airborne contact dermatitis (Erlangen 10%, IVDK 2%) and irritant contact dermatitis (Erlangen 9%, IVDK 8%). Less frequent causes for secondary eczematous periocular skin lesions were periorbital rosacea, allergic conjunctivitis or psoriasis vulgaris. Female gender, atopic skin diathesis and age of 40 years and older were identified as risk factors for periocular dermatitis. Common elicitors of periorbital allergic contact dermatitis were leave-on cosmetic products (face cream, eye shadow) and eye drops with the usual allergens being fragrances, preservatives and drugs. Exact identification of relevant contact allergens and allergen elimination are essential for successful treatment. Calcineurin inhibitors are the first-line therapy for facial atopic eczema. They may be also effective in periocular eczematous lesions of other origins although they are not approved for such use.

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