Itching eyes can be irritating, but fortunately, there are several different causes of itchy eyes, and each one can be treated differently.
If you’re dealing with itchy eyes, it’s important to figure out what the cause of them is so that you can treat the right thing and prevent future episodes of itching and irritation.
If you have ever felt an uncomfortable prickling sensation in your eyes, you’re not alone. In fact, itching eyes are very common, and they can be caused by everything from colds to allergies to dry eyes.
Itching eyes may be the result of certain allergies, such as pollen, mold, pet dander, or dry eye syndrome. Although it can be mildly annoying, itching eyes typically aren’t dangerous and don’t require medical attention.
However, if the irritation becomes severe enough to interfere with your vision or your ability to sleep comfortably at night, you should contact your doctor immediately.
There are some things you can do to treat the symptoms of itching eyes until you can get in to see your doctor, however. Here are the most common causes of itching eyes and how to deal with them
What are itching eyes?
Itching eyes are often a symptom of conjunctivitis or pink eye. This is an infection that causes redness and swelling of your eyelids as well as a watery discharge from your eyes.
Pink eye is usually caused by bacterial or viral infections and it can be treated with antibiotics or antiviral medications.
You should see a doctor if you have any type of itching eyes because there could be an underlying medical cause for them, such as allergies.
Regardless of your age, you should also go to a doctor if itching in your eyes lasts longer than two weeks, comes back after previously being treated, or gets worse every day.
What causes itching eyes?
Lots of things. Most commonly, they’re related to allergies and come from an immune system response to things like pollen or pet dander. Or they could be caused by medications or contact lenses.
If you’ve got a mild allergy going on, it’s probably best just to reach for a few antihistamines, which should ease your symptoms enough that you can get back to enjoying your life as normal (and if you’re one of those people who is always allergic and has problems with runny eyes year-round, make sure to talk with your doctor about other options.)
Treatments vary from using antihistamines and steroid drops in cases of mild symptoms, prescription drops or oral medication for more severe cases, or even laser surgery if other treatments don’t help.
And, of course, if you start experiencing redness or discharge in addition to itching, see a doctor right away—that could be a sign of something serious.
If you’ve got seasonal allergies, you’ll probably notice that your symptoms are worse in spring and fall when pollen counts are high.
And if you’re allergic to grass or trees, you may have more issues in summer and winter.
If you live in a climate where pollen counts tend to be high year-round (like Florida), it’s possible that your eyes will itch all year long—but if they’re really bothering you, talk with your doctor about other options.
One of them might be allergy shots; they can help reduce symptoms over time by giving your body small doses of allergens so it learns not to react as strongly when exposed to them naturally.
For some people, allergies are a year-round problem. If you’ve got perennial allergies, you might notice that your symptoms tend to be worse in specific rooms of your house or at certain times of the day.
For example, if you’re allergic to dust mites, you may notice that your eyes are itchy and watery first thing in the morning when you wake up—that’s because dust mites prefer warm and humid environments like bedding.
You can try using air filters (like an air purifier) or dehumidifiers to help control humidity levels in your home, but they won’t completely eliminate allergens from your environment.
If you’ve got allergies, it’s possible that your eyes are also reacting to airborne irritants—things like smoke, smog, and perfume.
If you notice that your symptoms get worse when you’re in certain environments (like a smoky bar or an overly fragrant department store), try limiting your exposure to those places.
If you’ve got dry eyes, it’s possible that your eyes are watering to compensate for a lack of moisture.
You can try using artificial tears to moisturize your eyes, but if that doesn’t help, talk with your doctor about other options.
Infection: If you’ve got an infection, it’s possible that your eyes are itching because of a foreign substance (like bacteria or virus) in your body.
If you’re sick, see a doctor right away to make sure you don’t have something more serious going on.
And if you think your symptoms might be caused by an infection and they aren’t getting better after a few days, see a doctor—you could have something like pink eye or herpes simplex.
Contact lens use: If you wear contacts, it’s possible that your eyes are itching because of them. If you’ve got a new pair of contacts, make sure to give them time to adjust to your eyes before wearing them for long periods of time.
If you’re experiencing eye irritation while wearing your contacts, talk with your doctor about other options—you might need a different type of contact or a prescription drop to help soothe your eyes.
And if you’re still having problems after trying different solutions, see an eye doctor right away—it could be a sign of something more serious like keratitis or corneal abrasion.
How are itching eyes treated?
If your itching eyes are due to allergic rhinitis, you may benefit from over-the-counter antihistamines like Zyrtec.
If a food allergy is causing your itchy eyes, talk to a doctor or allergist about an elimination diet.
Your doctor may also prescribe stronger medications, including prescription nasal sprays and steroid eye drops.
At home, keep cool and use saline eye drops several times per day to relieve itching. In extreme cases where the infection has resulted in scarring of tissues around your eyelids, surgery may be necessary.
This can range from removing infected tissue to repairing damage caused by excessive rubbing of irritated eyelids. If itching occurs for no apparent reason, see a doctor to rule out other causes such as blepharitis or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye).
As with any type of eye irritation, see your ophthalmologist if you experience prolonged redness, swelling, or discharge that interferes with vision.
These symptoms could signal an underlying disease such as conjunctivitis (pink eye) or blepharitis (eyelid inflammation).
While these conditions often clear up on their own within two weeks, seeing a specialist right away will help determine whether additional treatment is needed.
How To Treat Allergies
If you’re bothered by allergies, itchy eyes can sometimes be a symptom. Irritants like pollen, mold, and pet dander are common culprits when it comes to your itchy eyes.
Exposure to allergens can aggravate your allergies and lead to an eye infection that could make your eyes water excessively or even feel swollen.
You should see a doctor if any part of your eye is red or has a discharge or if you experience blurred vision from your allergies.
Can itching eyes be prevented?
Although there are several conditions that cause eyes to itch, they can often be prevented. Wear sunglasses outside and when you are indoors, make sure that your air conditioning and heating unit are working properly.
If you live in a dry climate and use air conditioning, consider using a humidifier in your bedroom at night.
You should also wear sunglasses if you spend extended periods of time on a computer or reading.
For most people who experience eye itching as a symptom of an allergy or another underlying medical condition, however, treatment for itching eyes may include antihistamines to combat swelling in their eyelids or allergies; steroidal creams for inflammation; artificial tears for dryness; antibiotic drops for infections; and antibiotic eye ointments for yeast infections, among other treatments.
A good rule of thumb is that if you have experienced itching eyes for more than two weeks, it’s time to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
The sooner you start treatment, the better off your vision will be in the long run.
As always, remember to talk with your doctor before starting any new medication regimen.
How To Protect Your Eyes
Dust and dirt are major eye irritants and can cause itching, redness, burning, or scratchiness.
There are a few steps you can take to protect your eyes from these foreign objects: Every day, rinse with clean water and apply an over-the-counter eyedrop for dry eyes; when gardening or doing other outdoor activities, wear safety goggles; avoid rubbing your eyes, and inspect your eyelashes after washing your face because they often harbor dust.
Consider adding an allergen-proof mattress encasement to help block out particles in bed as well.
Allergy Season: How To Prevent Red Eyes From Pollen Your eyes naturally produce a lubricant called tears that protects them from infection and damage caused by things like dust or smoke.
However, if you’re experiencing itchy eyes more than usual during allergy season, it could be due to allergies.
When pollen is released into the air during the spring and summer months, many people suffer from hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, coughing, runny nose, and of course itchy eyes.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have been trying to get rid of your eye itch for more than a couple of weeks and are experiencing other symptoms, like pain or discharge, it’s time to seek help from your doctor.
If your itching is associated with redness, swelling, or vision changes, you should definitely seek medical attention immediately.
If your physician doesn’t figure out what’s causing it after a few visits, consider seeing an eye specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment will depend on what kind of eye condition is causing you to itch but might include antihistamines or steroid drops. If these don’t help, surgery may be an option.
What is a natural remedy for itchy eyes?
The natural remedy for itchy eyes is a few drops of colloidal silver in each eye.
Colloidal silver is a safe and effective anti-bacterial agent that will help kill any bacteria or viruses in your eye.
If you don’t have colloidal silver, then some drops of tea tree oil will work just as well.
However, I recommend using colloidal silver instead because tea tree oil can sting a little bit when applied to your eyes. Just make sure you use pure, undiluted colloidal silver that contains no additives or preservatives—otherwise, it won’t be as effective at fighting off infection.
How do you get rid of itchy eyes?
You can get rid of itchy eyes by using over-the-counter eye drops, but you should only use them if your doctor recommends them.
Your doctor may prescribe an antihistamine to help reduce itching and swelling. If your symptoms are severe, you may need prescription eye drops or oral medication.
In rare cases, itchy eyes could be a sign of an underlying condition that requires medical attention.
If you’re concerned about your symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
Why are my eyes itchy every day?
Your eyes may be itchy and watery if you suffer from allergies or hay fever. Exposure to pollen, pet dander, or mold spores can lead to a type of allergic reaction known as allergic conjunctivitis.
Pollen and pet dander are often found indoors, too, so keep your pets off furniture and vacuum regularly to reduce exposure.
You can also try wearing sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from airborne irritants that get trapped in your eyelashes.
If you don’t see an improvement after a few weeks of allergy treatment, it’s worth visiting an eye doctor who specializes in allergies.
There are a number of reasons why people experience itching eyes, including airborne allergens and infections.
Most of these problems respond well to over-the-counter remedies; however, if you’re experiencing severe or ongoing symptoms, see your eye doctor for a professional diagnosis.
You can also work with your doctor to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions that need treatment.
In most cases, itching eyes should improve within two weeks of initiating treatment and most people can find relief from symptoms with over-the-counter medications.
However, in some cases (such as allergies), long-term management may be required to keep symptoms at bay.