Things You Should Know About Herpes On The Eyelid

To fully understand why one might have herpes on the eyelid, it is important to know what herpes is and what can trigger it.  The herpes simplex virus infects the nerves, mucous membranes and the skin.

The first type of the herpes simplex virus is the most common, infecting primarily the face and causing those familiar fever blisters or cold sores.  The second type of virus is the sexually transmitted disease that infects the genitals.  Both types of the herpes simplex virus can spread to the face, resulting in herpes on the eyelid however, the first type is the most common cause.

Type one of the virus is extremely contagious and is easily transmitted by simply having skin contact with the infected person.  It is very common and at least 90 percent of the population has been exposed to this, usually during childhood.  Once you have had your initial infection, the virus remains in a dormant state, living in your eye or skin nerve cells.  From time to time, the virus is reactivated and new blisters or cold sores are created.

What Causes Reactivation?

Reactivation of herpes on the eyelid can be triggered by a few different reasons, including:

  • Sun exposure
  • Fever
  • Menstruation
  • Stress
  • Certain prescription and over the counter medications
  • Surgery
  • Injury


Once herpes on the eyelid is present, it infects not only the eyelids but also the cornea, which is the eye's clear front window and it then infects the conjunctiva which is the filmy type of mucous membrane that is found covering the whites of your eye and additionally found underneath the eyelid.  

Symptoms and signs include:

  • Pain and soreness of the eye
  • Red eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing
  • Blurred vision
  • Extreme irritation

The cornea is generally where the infection begins, causing your eye to become very sensitive to light and turning it red.  Eventually, if the problem is left untreated, it will spread much deeper into your cornea and can result in serious damage such as permanent scarring and blindness.  Often, chronic ulcers also develop which are extremely difficult to heal.


The treatment technique of herpes on the eyelid will vary greatly depending on how severe the infection is.  Antiviral and topical medications are typically used to treat mild infections and sometimes diseased cells may need to be scraped away off of the cornea.

If the symptoms have been left untreated and vision loss or severe scarring has occurred, then you may be required to have a corneal transplant.  Prior to using any type of eye drops or medication, you should consult with an ophthalmologist because some treatments could actually make the infection much worse.


Once your body has been exposed to the virus, you can never get rid of it because there is no cure for the herpes simplex virus.  Once you have had an outbreak of herpes of the eyelid, you have a 50 percent chance of the infection coming back either weeks or years later.

You can however take a few preventative measures to help control your outbreaks, such as:

  • Do not take over the counter eye drops that contain steroids as these can often cause a smaller virus to multiply.
  • If you suffer from recurrences, discontinue wearing contact lenses.
  • Do not touch your eyes if you have a blister or cold sore.
  • See an Ophthalmologist once symptoms of herpes on the eyelid begin to return before they get out of control and cause serious damage.

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