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Everyone experiences itchiness in the eyes at least once in their lifetime. This ocular discomfort is often a symptom of an underlying problem, rather than a condition itself.
Itchiness in the eyes often creates an urge to continuously rub the eyes and is a constant source of irritation and discomfort.
However, excessive rubbing can damage the cornea and make your problem worse. Thus, it is imperative that you seek timely treatment for this condition before you incur any additional harm.
The most commonly used medications for itchy eyes are antihistamines, saline eye drops, corticosteroids, mast-cell stabilizers, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), some of which have been associated with adverse side effects. Thus, you must use them as prescribed and go for regular follow-up checkups to prevent complications.
In addition to medical treatment, a few non-medicinal interventions can help relieve and prevent itchy eyes
Home Remedies and Self-Care to Manage Itchy Eyes
Here are a few measures that can help minimize eye itchiness.
1. Apply a cold compress
Applying a cold compress over your eyes for quick relief is a common home remedy and is often suggested by doctors as well. You can use a cold, moist washcloth over your eyes to control the itch caused by allergies.
Additionally, a cold compress hydrates the eyes, thus reducing any irritation caused by dryness. Cold compresses are also economical and easy to use.
You may also try a warm compress. Just ensure that it is not too hot.
2. Avoid allergens
Allergic reactions are the most common cause of itchy eyes. Therefore, it is important to identify the factors that trigger your allergies and avoid contact with them.
Eye irritants include pollen, wind, cigarette smoke, dry air, chemicals, dust, strong odors, and prolonged screen time. Blinking often can help lubricate your eyes and remove any allergens or irritants.
You can also take the following steps to limit exposure to allergens:
- Avoid going outside during periods with a high pollen count (generally mid-morning or early evening).
- Use an air purifier indoors.
- Shut the windows of your car and home to prevent the entry of allergens. Use air conditioners.
- Utilize allergen-impermeable covers for your comforters, pillows, seat cushions, and mattresses to help avoid dust mites.
- Occasionally expose your bedding to sunlight and replace old bedding with new ones to control dust mites.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to prevent pollen from entering your eyes.
3. Refrain from rubbing your eyes
Rubbing your eyes can aggravate the eye itchiness, regardless of the cause, and can even lead to damage.
For example, rubbing an itchy eye caused by a foreign particle in the eye, such as makeup debris or an eyelash, can result in a scratched cornea.
4. Maintain proper hygiene when using contact lenses
When using contact lenses, it is vital to rinse them properly before using or storing to remove any allergens or irritants from the surface.
Avoid prolonged use of contact lenses, and clean them daily. Replace the solution in the container frequently.
Refrain from sharing your lenses or eye makeup with other people. Occasionally, switch to using your glasses for a few days to give rest to your eyes.
How to Prevent Itchy Eyes
The following lifestyle changes can help prevent the development of itchy eyes:
- Avoid long stretches of work. Give rest to your eyes by following the 20-20-20 rule, which suggests looking at a distance of 20 feet for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes of eye-straining work.
- Wash your pillowcases and bedsheets using hot water and detergent to remove the allergens.
- Protect your eyes from air coming out of hairdryers, air conditioners, fans, or car heaters.
- Mop your floors instead of sweeping to prevent stirring up allergens and other particles.
- Restrict your pets from entering the bedroom to avoid pet dander.
- Avoid exposure to allergens.
- Refrain from burning candles as they emit soot and irritants in the air. Scented candles can irritate the eyes.
- Do not smoke cigarettes or tobacco. Additionally, avoid exposure to any kind of smoke.
- Use hypoallergenic products near the eyes.
- Consider vitamin A and omega-3 supplements as they can help improve eye health. A deficiency of vitamin A can cause dryness, (1) and omega-3 is known to aid tear production. (2) However, consult a doctor before using them.
- Take your medications regularly during allergy season.
- Refrain from touching your eyes and face.
- Wash and clean your hands frequently.
- Consult an ophthalmologist if the problem is persistent.
Multiple factors can cause itchy eyes, allergic reactions being the most common. Itchy eyes can also be the result of irritation on the eyelids or sometimes in the clear membrane of the eye.
The doctor will prescribe the necessary treatment after determining the root cause of the itchiness.
Eye care measures and home therapies can not only enhance the effectiveness of your standard medication but can also promote quick recovery and prevent future episodes.