Besides itchy skin, itchy and red eyes are one of the top allergy bothers. All different kinds of allergies can effect eyes, including food allergies that swell them, animals that irritate them and other environmental irritants like dust, pollen or even a lot of unknowns. Because the eyes don’t have the barriers that other systems in the body do, they are often the first part affected by allergies. But besides knowing what irritates them and trying to stay away, it is also important to know how to treat them.
• Take an antihistamine. As soon as you notice eye allergy onset, take an antihistamine, like Benadryl. Though it will take a few minutes for the medicine to kick in, it usually helps quite a bit.
• Wash your hands, face and eyes. Often you have touched something and then rubbed your eyes and the irritant is still there. It could be pet dander, pollen, even another allergen like peanut butter. Wash the face and eyes, and the hands with soap and water.
• Use a warm or cool compress, whichever you prefer. Cold water will reduce the puffiness, but warm water may be more relaxing, and will relaxing in and of itself may help reduce the trauma in the eyes. Many people like the gel packs you can keep in the freezer, or a bag of frozen peas will do. Tea bags soaked in water can also reduce the puffiness.
• Think about what you may have differently in the past 24 hours so you can stop it. It may be a new soap, shampoo, eye or skin cream, even new laundry detergent. Stop using it if you did. Did you get a new comforter or pillows that may contain something you’re allergic to? Maybe you ate something new, make note of it and try to stay away.
• Check to see if there are other symptoms in other parts of your body. Sometimes eyes are the only thing affected, other times there may be hives or swelling somewhere else. If there is swelling near the throat or tongue, or you have any trouble breathing, seek medical attention immediately; it could be the signs of anaphylaxis.
• Use artificial tears. These not only can wash some of the possible allergen away (unless it is due to something ingested), but can also build up a defense in the eyes and keep allergens from sticking to the eyes.
Make sure you see a doctor if this is an ongoing problem and make sure you seek medical assistance IMMEDIATELY if there is other swelling in the face, mouth or neck or have trouble breathing.