You probably do it unconsciously at least a dozen times a day: rub your eyes because they itch. Much like blinking, it’s a bodily function that goes mostly unnoticed. When your eyes persistently itch, however, you’ll likely be more aware of how much you’re rubbing them. Itchy eyes usually are a temporary problem, especially if it’s due to an irritant that’s trapped somewhere in the eye.
However, some cases of itchy eyes will last longer in duration. Here are a few causes of itchy eyes:
What is conjunctivitis and what causes it?
One of the most common causes of itchy eyes is ‘pink eye,’ which also goes by the clinical name of conjunctivitis, which is caused by inflammation of the membranes covering the whites of the eyes.
The common cold can, caused by a virus, can produce itchy eyes. Conjunctivitis can be contracted if you have a cold. Itchy eyes can also stem from a bacterial source of conjunctivitis. Ever get strep throat? The streptococcus bacteria can also manifest as pink eye.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis
Clear discharge from the corner of the eye is a major symptom of conjunctivitis, as are swollen eyelids [link to swollen eye lids article]. In the case of bacterial conjunctivitis, eye discharge may be different than its viral counterpart, as it has a green or yellow color.
Treatments for conjunctivitis
Bacterial causes of conjunctivitis need to be treated with antibiotic drops.
Home remedies for conjunctivitis
For temporary treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis, a warm compress against your eyes will provide relief. You can also purchase an over-the-counter eye-drop decongestant for temporary relief. Viral conjunctivitis doesn’t require antibiotics for treatment unlike bacterial conjunctivitis. Also, homeopathic remedies are available, such as pulsatilla, especially if the cause is viral and symptomatic of the common cold, according to TrueStarHealth.com.
Bilberry, according to NativeRemedies.com, is also a highly-effective homeopathic herb for ocular health.
What are allergic reactions and what causes them?
There are several environmental factors that can cause uncomfortable, persistent itchy eyes. But don’t try to stop the itch by rubbing the eyes as this will make the condition much worse. The body sometimes creates an immune response if a particular environmental irritant or food is recognized as a pathogen. The body will create histamines to counter the foreign invader.
Some of the allergens that can produce itchy eyes include:
· pet dander
· dry air
· food allergies
What causes food allergies?
Sulfites that are produced in the wine-making process can sometimes cause itchy eyes.
Those allergic to the protein in wheat—gluten (and its components, called gliadin)—may sometimes experience itchy eyes after eating baked goods, for example, that contain gluten. This is especially true with people who have an extreme allergic reaction to gluten, called Celiac Disease, which, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, affects 1 in 133 people. Although those with Celiac Disease often experience more serious problems than itchy eyes if they consume gluten, nonetheless, it’s worth noting that even those with a less severe reaction to gluten can experience itchy, watery eyes.
What causes environmental allergies and what treatments are available?
Environmental irritants of all kinds can lead to itchy eyes as they rob the body’s cells of oxygen. Eyewebhealth.com recommends oral antihistamines or eye drops such as Visine before visiting a doctor, because symptoms usually clear up in a reasonable time.
What are home remedies for itchy eyes caused by allergies?
A home remedy for itchy eyes is an all-natural eye wash. It’s best to use distilled water, says HomeRemedyCentral.com. Cold solutions will alleviate swollen and itchy eyes better than warm compresses. But first, you’ll want to boil a cup of distilled water with one teaspoon of salt. Boiling two green tea bags in a cup of distilled water and letting it cool also makes for an effective home-remedy eye wash.
What is blepharitis and what causes it?
Blepharitis can cause itchy eyes and can be more of a serious condition than conjunctivitis or allergen-induced causes of itchy eyes, though blepharitis is non-contagious. Caused by bacteria, blepharitis is a common eye disorder. The underlying cause of blepharitis may be a bit more challenging to discern than other causes of itchy eyes than, say, drinking a couple glasses of wine that contains sulfites.
Symptoms of blepharitis
Inflammation of the eyelash follicles, caused by the bacteria, is the main symptom of blepharitis, in addition to red eye. Dandruff-like flakes on the eyelashes may also accompany blepharitis. In some cases, the condition may actually cause one to lose their eyelashes. Other traits of blepahritis may include blurred vision, itching and burning.
Treatments for blepharitis
Blepharitis can be treated with antibiotics, if a medical professional deems it necessary. If not, anti-dandruff shampoo and discontinued use of clogging eye makeup may be effective.
Though there are several causes of itchy eyes, most are highly treatable, with several home remedies available, from the homeopathic route to eye drops. If eye pain or compromised vision accompanies your itchy eyes, consult a medical professional immediately.