How to Stop Itchy Eyes From Allergies: What You Need to Know
If you’ve ever suffered from itchy eyes due to allergies, you know how uncomfortable and distracting it can be.
The main question for most people with eye allergies is how to stop itchy eyes from allergies. Fortunately, you can do a few things to reduce irritation and prevent future flare-ups. It all starts with understanding the triggers for your allergies.
Read on to learn more about itchy eyes from allergies and how to get rid of them.
Itchy Eye Allergies
Itchy eye allergies are a category of eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis that causes a tingling or uneasy irritation in the eye. It’s easy to confuse itchy eye allergies with an eye infection.
If your eyes are itchy around the same time each year, you most likely have a seasonal allergy, and itchiness is an allergic reaction to pollen and ragweed. You can also tell that you’re dealing with an allergy rather than an eye infection if you experience itchy eyes along with other common allergic reactions like nasal congestion and sneezing.
How Do Allergies Cause Itchy Eyes?
Your immune system is designed to fight off harmful invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. With allergies, your body mistakenly identifies something harmless as an invader, triggering an exaggerated response in the form of itchy eyes. The release of histamine causes itchiness around the eyes and other symptoms.
It also causes the small blood vessels in your eyes to swell. The dilation of the vessels irritates the nerve endings, which further contributes to red and itchy eyes.
This immune system response will most likely occur due to hay fever or perennial allergies. Hay fever occurs at a particular time of the year, usually between spring and early fall. During this time, there is a high concentration of outdoor allergens due to a high pollen count from weeds, trees, grasses, and mold spores.
On the other hand, perennial allergies can occur throughout the year. The leading causes are indoor allergens like pet dander and dust mites.
What Else Causes Itchy Eyes?
Besides eye allergies, there are other potential causes of itchy eyes. The common ones include:
Irritants like smoke, certain perfumes, and diesel exhaust can cause itchy eyes. These irritants contain particles that are small enough to enter the eyes. When these particles come into contact with the sensitive membranes in your eyes, they can cause inflammation, leading to irritation and itching.
You can have irritated eyes due to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is one of the most common and contagious infections that cause itchy eyes. Uveitis, which causes iris inflammation, can cause itchy eyes and pain, and increased light sensitivity.
Use of Contact Lenses
Wearing contact lenses for too long or failing to get new ones can make your eyes itchy. The use of certain lens solutions can also cause an allergic reaction. If you're susceptible to eye allergies, it may be better for you to switch to daily disposable lenses or opt for glasses instead.
Tears play a significant role in keeping your eyes refreshed and moist. If you don't have enough tears to lubricate your eyes, then it's likely that your eyes will become dry and scratchy. Chronic dry eyes result from various factors such as old age, excessive computer use, certain medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, and medications like antidepressants.
Continuously focusing on a specific object without blinking can cause eyestrain and lead to itchy eyes. It's common among people who spend long hours using computers or phones. Eyestrain can also occur if you read in an area without enough light or take long drives at night or during sunny days.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that happens when the oil glands at the base of your eyelashes are clogged. It's caused by bacterial infection or irritation from contact lenses, skin conditions, and allergies.
Itchy Eye Allergy Symptoms
Itchy eyes are a common sign of eye allergies. When you have itchy eyes, you might experience symptoms such as:
- A burning sensation
- Eye redness
- Watery discharge
- Runny nose
- Green or yellow pus
- Swollen eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Temporary blurry vision
The itching might be more intense in one eye than the other. While most of the symptoms of itchy eye allergies are mild, the discomfort can be quite severe in some cases. If you experience these symptoms for more than a week, you should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent further complications, such as infections.
How to Treat Itchy Eyes
You can treat itchy eyes either with or without medicine. For the no-medicine option, you can place cold compresses on your eyes. For example, you can place a well-wrapped ice pack over your closed eyes for a few minutes.
Another option is to use artificial tear eye drops to treat itchy eyes caused by dryness. You can buy eye drops over the counter to lubricate the eyes. Artificial tears can also wash away any allergens stuck in the eyes, such as animal dander or pollen.
You can also use medication to treat itchy eyes, such as medicated eye drops. These eye drops contain antihistamines to block histamine and relieve itchy eyes. Some eye drops, like alcaftadine and ketotifen, act as mast cell stabilizers to stop the release of additional histamine in the eye.
How to Prevent Itchy Eyes
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent itchy eyes, including the following:
Keeping the eye area clean: Substances like dirt and makeup can irritate the eyes and cause itching. That's why you should clean the area around your eyes using mild soap and warm water. Ensure you remove makeup before washing your face to prevent it from getting into your eyes.
Use a humidifier: A humidifier can help to keep your eyes from drying out and becoming itchy. It's especially beneficial during cold days, in cold climates, or when you spend long hours in air-conditioned rooms.
Avoid rubbing the eyes: Rubbing your eyes can stimulate histamine production, making your eyes itchier. Avoid rubbing them, and keep your hands away from your face when outdoors.
Avoid contact lenses: If you wear contact lenses, remove them before bed and replace them with glasses. You can also change the type of contact lenses and go for disposable ones to give your eyes some rest.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule: If you spend long hours looking at a computer screen, take breaks often and follow the 20-20-20 rule. This means that every twenty minutes, look away from the screen for twenty seconds and focus on something about twenty feet away. This will help to reduce eyestrain and prevent itchy eyes.
Avoid allergens: You can take various measures to avoid the allergens that trigger your eye allergies. For instance, stay away from animals, keep your windows closed, and use an air purifier to remove indoor allergens. You should also change the air filters of your air conditioning regularly to keep the air clean.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, itchy eyes symptoms will go away on their own, especially after using some home remedies like artificial tears and cold compresses. However, you should seek medical attention if:
- Itchy eyes are interfering with your day-to-day activities, such as reading and driving
- Your eyes become more sensitive to light than usual
- You're experiencing eyestrain and headaches when using screens
- You start seeing spots, light flashes, and floaters
- You have eye pain
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are ineffective
Your eye doctor will assess your condition and recommend the best treatment for itchy eyes.
How Are Itchy Eyes From Allergies Diagnosed?
Your eye doctor will diagnose itchy eyes from allergies through a comprehensive eye exam. During the exam, they'll ask about your medical history and symptoms before performing tests such as a slit lamp examination to look for signs of inflammation and other abnormalities in and around your eyes.
If the diagnosis shows you have itchy eyes from allergies, the doctor will likely recommend taking an allergy test to diagnose the specific allergens triggering the reactions. The most common allergy test is the skin prick test. A convenient and reliable testing option is the at-home allergy test from Wyndly.
The Skin Prick Test
The skin prick test is the old-fashioned method of diagnosing allergies. It involves pricking your skin with small amounts of the allergen and observing if it causes a reaction, such as swelling or redness.
The reactions will provide an indication of which allergens are causing your symptoms. The major drawback of the skin prick test is that it can be uncomfortable and time-consuming since you have to make a physical appearance at the doctor's office.
The At-Home Allergy Test
The at-home allergy test from Wyndly is a convenient alternative to the skin prick test. You can complete the test at home by following these simple steps:
- Place an online request for the test kit. Wyndly will send one of our CLIA-certified tests to your home.
- Take the allergy test and send it back via mail. Once you get the test kit, complete a quick finger-prick test and mail us the sample enclosed in the given envelope.
- Get your allergy profile. Our allergy doctors will review the test results, create your allergy profile, and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you get long-term relief from your symptoms.
You can manage itchy eye allergies using various treatment options. Below is an overview of the most effective treatments and remedies for itchy eyes from allergies:
The simplest remedy for itchy eyes from allergies is to limit exposure to the allergen. If you’re allergic to pollen, for example, stay indoors when pollen counts are high and shower before bedtime to eliminate any allergens on your body.
Depending on what you’re allergic to, other ways of limiting exposure include:
- Keeping windows closed during the allergy season and running the air conditioner instead of window fans
- Wearing eyeglasses when you’re outdoors
- Using air filters in your home
- Using special pillow covers to avoid exposure to dust mites
- Disposing of carpets and rugs that can trap allergens
- Frequently washing bedding in hot water
- Cleaning floors with a damp rag instead of sweeping
- Keeping pets out of your bedroom
- Avoiding rubbing your eyes
You can consider medications, especially if limiting exposure to the allergens fails to bring relief. You can use either OTC remedies or prescription medications to relieve itching in your eyes caused by allergies.
Some of the most common OTC options include:
- Oral antihistamines: Oral antihistamines such as loratadine and cetirizine can temporarily reduce inflammation and itching in the eyes by blocking the action of histamines.
- Eyedrops: Many OTC eye drops contain antihistamines and effectively reduce itching in the eyes caused by allergies for short-term relief. However, you can buy saline eye drops to rinse irritants from your eyes and increase lubrication. There is also the decongestant eye drops option to constrict your eye's blood vessels and minimize irritation.
If you don't find relief after trying these OTC options, sublingual immunotherapy might be right for you.
Sublingual immunotherapy is the best treatment option if you're looking for long-term relief from your allergy symptoms. The treatment involves placing drops or tablets containing extracts of what you are allergic to under your tongue. It works by gradually exposing your body to increasing levels of an allergen, which helps your immune system build resistance and reduce sensitivity to allergens. After repeated exposure, the body becomes desensitized to your allergies and stops reacting when exposed.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If itchy eyes from allergies affect your life, it's time to get long-term treatment from Wyndly. Our doctors will create a personalized treatment plan using sublingual immunotherapy to retrain your body until you are allergy-free.
Take our online assessment today to start fixing your allergies from the comfort of your home!