Itchy eyes: what helps against it?

Augen jucken: Was hilft dagegen?

Many are familiar with the problem: the eyes itch, burn and water. Mostly as allergy symptoms, especially in summer. Sometimes, however, completely different triggers are responsible. You are often aware of what can cause such a physical reaction in you, but unfortunately sometimes not.

In this article we show you the best tips, tricks & home remedies for itchy eyes. You will learn a lot about the causes and how you can bring about relief yourself with first aid or when you should go to the doctor. We present you with various tips to avoid itchy eyes beforehand and what you can do if you are affected.

the essentials in brief

  • Itchy eyes are usually an allergic reaction to pollen or animal dander. There are many allergies to which the body reacts with symptoms in the eye area.
  • Not every reaction can be traced back to an allergy, because sometimes serious diseases can also be the cause of itchy eyes.
  • There are a few tricks and home remedies for first aid for itchy eyes that work particularly well with allergies and are easy to use.

Background: What you should know about itchy eyes

Unfortunately, it is quite often the case that the body reacts primarily with the eyes and respiratory tract in the event of an allergic reaction, for example. In this section we look at the causes of itchy eyes.

What are triggers and causes of itchy eyes?

Itchy eyes, especially in connection with redness and tears, are quite common in allergy sufferers. For example, bee pollen and grasses are the culprits. However, there are many other triggers for itchy eyes, which we have listed for you here. (1)

  • intolerance to contact lenses
  • foreign body in the eye
  • stye
  • hailstone
  • drug intolerance
  • Irritation to eyes from UV exposure, draft/air conditioning, chemicals

In most cases, even small dust particles or an intolerance or allergy can be the trigger for itchy eyes. The cause can often be identified and remedied quickly. (2)

How are itchy eyes still normal?

There are many other symptoms that accompany itchy eyes. Most of the time, the eyes also tear or burn. Also not uncommon are dry, reddish and swollen eyes. Many have a feeling of pressure or a foreign body in their eye. In the worst case, however, secretion can also occur or adhesions to the eyelids. (3)

In these cases, you should definitely see a doctor. Symptoms that are less severe, such as burning, tearing, or dryness, can usually be treated at home or relieved with mild over-the-counter medicines.

Basically, however, you should go to the doctor immediately if your itchy eyes restrict you too much. This also applies to other side effects such as blurred vision , fever or eye pain. (2)

Which allergies cause itchy eyes?

Above all, a pollen allergy or hay fever is known for itchy and dry eyes. This is called seasonal conjunctivitis. It usually lasts from spring to summer, depending on which grasses and flowers are reacted to.

In the case of atopic conjunctivitis, the allergy sufferer is generally allergic, regardless of the season. Animal hair or house dust mites are the main triggers for this type of allergy. This causes permanent allergy-related conjunctivitis.

With both allergies or conjunctivitis, the eyes itch, water, become red and can also swell. In addition, there are usually other allergy symptoms such as sneezing and shortness of breath . Itchy eyes can also be an accompanying symptom of latex allergies or cross-allergies. (1.5)

Many allergies can be chronic and cause permanent itching and dryness in the eyes. As already explained above, this includes animal hair allergies or pollen allergies.

However, an allergic reaction related to the eyes can also be due to an intolerance to contact lenses. The eyes react less frequently with allergy symptoms in the case of food intolerance. (4)

What infections and diseases play a role in relation to itchy eyes?

Other diseases or infections are often the reason for itchy eyes. These include, for example, barley or hailstones. Foreign bodies of this kind that appear in the eye must be treated by a doctor. Another accompanying symptom is itchy eyes in contact dermatitis.

This indicates an intolerance to certain ingredients in lotions or creams. In addition, there is a skin rash. However, itchy eyes can also occur in connection with Sjögren's syndrome or reactive arthritis. (2)

Why do eyes itch in winter?

In winter, the humidity in living spaces is very low. The air is too dry, which is mainly promoted by the use of radiators. The surface of the eye becomes drier and the eye starts to itch. Quick help in the form of eye drops can reduce the dryness and stop the itching.

How does fatigue and screen time affect the eyes?

Eye strain can also quickly lead to itchy eyes. High screen times and delayed bedtime promote this. The eyes are usually less moisturized and dry out more easily. This can quickly cause itching. (7)

man is tired

Eye strain or excessive screen time can result in itchy eyes. This includes lack of sleep. (Image source: Christian Erfurt / Unsplash)

This can be avoided with sufficient screen-free times and relaxation exercises for the eyes. Getting enough sleep is also helpful. Eye strain, especially due to the aspects mentioned above, often leads to itchy or reddened eyes.

What else could itchy eyes indicate?

There are other triggers and causes of itchy eyes that indicate serious medical conditions. These include eye injuries such as corneal abrasions. In many cases, the itching has to do with conjunctivitis or age-related deterioration of the conjunctival tissue.

Other inflammations can be eyelid inflammation, sclera inflammation or corneal inflammation. Rash can also be the cause. All of these triggers cannot be treated independently and must be treated by a doctor. (6)

Itchy Eyes: The Best Tips & Tricks to Avoid Itchy Eyes

Since itchy eyes are one of the most common allergy symptoms, there are a few tricks and home remedies to counteract the itching. Especially with slight itching, you can usually relieve it quickly and easily at home.

At this point we have summarized and explained all the important home remedies and tips for you. So you can take care of itchy eyes yourself. If the itching becomes extreme or occurs for unexplained reasons, a doctor should be consulted.

First aid for itchy eyes

Water is always helpful for itchy eyes. Especially with a pollen allergy, the itching should not be pursued. It is much better to wash the eye carefully with water first. Foreign bodies are also flushed out in this way.

A wet cloth on the eyes can cool and soothe. Anyone who has itchy eyes due to allergies can also take an appropriate allergy tablet, unless otherwise prescribed by the doctor. (Prescribed) medicines can also be eye drops. (5)

If the itch is obviously from excessive screen time, there is a simple exercise you can do. You consciously look at objects that are further away. You can always do this alternately with the moments when you look at the screen. If the cause is tiredness, a little sleep break usually helps.

Closing your eyes and briefly covering them with your hand can have a relaxing effect and relieve or even prevent symptoms such as itching.

Sometimes contact lenses can also be responsible for the itching. In this case, you should remove them and switch to wearing glasses for a certain period of time (can only be determined individually, usually around one or two days). If the contact lenses are brand new, the itching can also be an indication of a general intolerance to contact lenses.

From time to time cosmetic products are actually triggers for itchy eyes. If you experience such a reaction, remove the product from your face or eyes and wait to see if the symptoms subside. Water is also helpful here for subsequent cooling. (2)

Home remedies to counteract itchy eyes

Since many people are familiar with the problem of itchy eyes, there are quite a few tips on how to alleviate and prevent them. Consequently, we have put together a brief overview of these home remedies. (8th)

chamomile

Chamomile has an anti-inflammatory and soothing effect on itchy eyes. Cold chamomile tea can be spread on a wet cloth and then placed over the eyes. This helps especially with swollen eyes. If you are allergic to daisy family plants, which include chamomile, you should not use chamomile.

cucumber slices

Cold cucumber slices have a cooling effect and can be used quickly and easily. Simply take a cucumber out of the fridge and cut off slices.

Cucumber slices next to cucumber

Cucumber slices help with hydration, thus relieving itching. (Image source: Markus Winkler / Unsplash)

Then one slice per eye, which can be replaced with a new cucumber slice at will. In addition, the cucumber provides intensive moisture supply due to its high water content.

saline solutions

If you have a dust mite or dust mite allergy, saline solutions can be a good remedy for itchy eyes. The salt acts as an antidote for allergic reactions. For a salt solution, boil salt in water (one teaspoon of salt for one cup of water) and let the liquid cool.

You can then rinse your eyes with the solution. This method will relieve itching and also speed up the healing process if your skin around the eye is already irritated or slightly damaged. Please note that caution should always be exercised with saline solutions.

Next home remedies

In the following table we have listed further tips for you:

Tip / home remedies Effect
screen breaks Avoid eyestrain and blink adequately to moisten
Green tea Place wipes on eye to soothe or wash eye
Cold water wraps Place over eyes to soothe and cool, also helps with swelling

Conclusion

Many people suffer from itchy eyes, especially in spring or summer, some also in winter due to the low humidity in closed rooms. Itchy eyes are usually an allergy symptom, which can be quickly alleviated with the right home remedies. Eye strain, which can also lead to itchy eyes, can be avoided with enough sleep and breaks.

If none of the home remedies mentioned, such as cold towels or chamomile tea, are working, you should see a doctor immediately. Itchy eyes can also indicate serious diseases or infections.

References

  1. barmer.de: Allergies, Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), April 1, 2021 Source
  2. netdoktor.de: Itchy eyes, Lisa Vogel, December 15, 2020 Source
  3. GĂŒngör D, Nadaud P, LaPergola CC, Dreibelbis C, Wong YP, Terry N et al. Infant milk-feeding practices and food allergies, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and asthma throughout the life span: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr 2019; 109 (Suppl 7): 772S-799S. Page 27-33 Source
  4. augeninfo.de: Professional Association of German Ophthalmologists (BVA): "What to do with red, itchy eyes?", February 17, 2016 Source
  5. msdmanuals.com: Melvin I. Roat: Allergic conjunctivitis (atopic conjunctivitis; atopic keratoconjunctivitis; hay fever conjunctivitis; seasonal allergic conjunctivitis; vernal keratoconjunctivitis) MD, FACS, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, April 2018 Source
  6. altmeyers.org: Altmayer's Encyclopedia: "Liddermatitis" Source
  7. gesundheit.gv.at: Austria's public health portal: "Work on the screen: eyes need relaxation" Source
  8. utopia.de: Itchy eyes - causes and home remedies, Sophie Singer, 01.08.2018 Source
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