Itchy Eyes? How to Reduce Eye Allergy Symptoms

Every year when allergy season hits you feel that familiar sensation coming on. The insatiable itch in your eyes. The redness and discomfort that make you want to tear your face off. The swelling that makes you look like you just got in a fist fight.


Anyone who’s ever experienced eye allergies knows how miserable they can be. Aside from dousing yourself in Benedryl, how can you get through allergy season in one piece? Read on for some tips on how to relieve your eyes and hold onto your sanity when pollen fills the air.

Avoid Touching Your Eyes
When your eyes feel itchy, it’s extremely difficult to resist the urge to rub them. You can’t scratch an itchy eye, but rubbing seems like a good alternative. However, be warned—if you do give in and rub your eyes, you’ll only have about 10 seconds of glorious relief before the real itching begins.

If you’ve had eye allergies for a while, you’ve probably already figured out that rubbing your eyes makes things worse. It feels great at first, but the second you stop, you’re going to be in more pain than when you started.

Rubbing your eyes makes your allergies worse because it releases more histamines. Histamines are the compounds that make your eyes itch in the first place. When you rub your eyes, you irritate and burst the cells that hold the histamines. More histamines equals more problems.

To avoid increasing histamines and making your eyes itch more, keep your hands away from your face.

Take Oral Allergy Medications
If you haven’t talked to your doctor about allergy medications, make an appointment. Even if you’ve tried over-the-counter varieties that haven’t worked, your doctor can recommend or prescribe something different.

Oral allergy medications counteract the histamines causing your symptoms. They’ll help your eyes, and the rest of you, feel better.

Keep in mind some allergy medications cause drowsiness. If you’ll need to take the medicine during times you’ll be driving, working, learning, or doing something else important, talk to your doctor about non-drowsy varieties.

Wash Your Face
If you still have some allergy symptoms, even with medication, try washing your face. Use a gentle cleanser and cool water to clean your skin and get any allergens away from your eyes. If you have skin allergies or sensitive skin, look for non-comedogenic products with no added fragrances.

Rinse Your Eyes
For a more thorough washing routine, rinse your eyes as well as your face. Use lukewarm or cool water and gently rinse your eyes from the inner corner out. You can stand under a soft shower spray, use a running faucet, or pour water from a cup.

As an eye wash, salt water will feel more comfortable than fresh. You can buy saline rinse made for eyes from any drugstore. Do not rinse your eyes with cleanser made for your face.

Apply Cold Packs
Since eye allergies often cause redness and swelling, cool washcloths or cold packs can help. Rinse a clean cloth in cool water and put it over your eyes for about 10 minutes. Don’t share your washcloth with other people, and wash it often to get rid of bacteria.

You can use the cool washcloth method on your eyes as often as you want. This will minimize swelling and even help with itching.

Use Allergy Eye Drops
For persistent eye allergies, talk to your eye doctor about eye drops. Your doctor can recommend or prescribe allergy drops to specifically target your eyes. These can replace or work along with your oral allergy medications.

Allergy eye drops will help reduce itching and redness. Since there are several different types, your doctor will assess your symptoms and determine which one will work best for you.

For extra-soothing eye drops, store the bottle in the refrigerator. The cold will give your eyes some instant relief even before the medicine kicks in.

Avoid Allergens
Allergens are any substances that trigger your allergies. If you have seasonal allergies, you probably have an allergy to things like pollen, hay, or possibly mould spores. Year-round allergies are usually caused by dust mites, down feathers, pet dander, and other indoor elements.

If you have seasonal allergies, find a reliable website that reports your local pollen count. Avoid going outdoors on days with high pollen counts. If you have year-round allergies, switch out your pillows and blankets for hypoallergenic versions.

If you want to know specifically what you’re allergic to, a doctor or allergist can tell you. The doctor will perform a “scratch test,” which involves exposing your skin to a variety of allergens and testing your reaction. After this test, you’ll know exactly what you need to avoid.

Eye allergies seem like a special kind of torture. However, you don’t have to suffer through the season. Use these tips to reduce your allergy symptoms and take back your eyes.

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