Itchy, bloodshot eyes that beg for some vigorous rubbing – sounds familiar? From seasonal allergens like pollen to non-seasonal ones like animal dander, mold, or dust, eye allergies can be set off by many triggers and make you miserable. But how do these allergens irritate your eyes? When your eyes come in touch with something that raises a red flag in your immune system, your body releases a substance known as histamine. This causes the common symptoms of an eye allergy – tearing, red eyes, itching or burning sensation, and stringy eye discharge. You may also find that your eyelids get puffy and swollen.
To deal with an eye allergy, your doctor may recommend oral antihistamines, lubricating eye drops, or eyes drops with antihistamines. But many common foods also have antihistamine properties. So if you’re looking for something natural, there are many simple remedies you can try at home to handle this sticky problem.1
1. Apply A Cool Compress To Soothe Your Eyes
Soak a clean washcloth in cool water, wring out the excess water, and apply it over your closed eyes. This can soothe itchy eyes and help relieve puffiness.
2. Amp Up The Compress With Calendula Or Chamomile For Swollen Red Eyes
Both calendula and chamomile have inflammatory properties which can soothe irritated eyes. Up the power of your eye compress with these. Boil a cup of distilled water and steep 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile or calendula flowers in it. Strain the solution and allow it to cool. Now soak a clean washcloth in it, wring out the excess water, and apply it over closed eyelids for about 20 minutes.2 However, do keep in mind that some people are allergic to chamomile or calendula, so do a patch test before using this remedy.
3. Flush Irritants Away With Saline Drops Or Artificial Tears
Normal saline drops or artificial tears can be used to flush away irritants that can cause inflammation. While there are many DIYs to make saline drops at home, it’s critical that you do this in a sterile environment and ensure all utensils and ingredients are uncontaminated. You could also use simple store-bought ones instead. Also, clean your eyelids and the area around your eyes with a wet washcloth to remove any allergens if you’ve been outside.3
4. Use An External Eyewash With Turmeric
Curcumin, a compound present in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory effects and can inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells.4 Animal studies have found that this compound can suppress eye allergies.5
Try this simple ayurvedic remedy for your eye allergy: Mix in ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder into ¼ cup of distilled clean warm water and use the solution to clean eyelid and your outer eye. Add this flavorsome spice to soups and curries or have a cup of turmeric tea to fight inflammation from within.6
5. Drink Lemon Juice To Tackle Allergic Reactions
Lemon contains the flavonoid hesperetin and vitamin C. Both these compounds have antihistamine properties and can help prevent an allergic reaction. One case study found that a woman who was sensitive to a variety of substances – from detergents, dust, and pollen to perfumes – experienced relief from symptoms when she had lemon juice. Interestingly, the lemon juice worked in half an hour and cleared symptoms of not only eye allergy but also nasal allergy.7 8
6. Have Mandarin Orange Yogurt To Control The Allergy
Combine the power of mandarin orange and yogurt to rid yourself of an eye allergy. A study looked at the effect of this delicious treat on people who suffered seasonal allergic conjunctivitis due to cedar pollen. It was found that itching, redness, and swelling of eyelid was significantly lower in those who had mandarin orange yogurt than in the control group which had plain yogurt. Researchers concluded that the combined effect of protein β-lactoglobulin from yogurt and flavonoid nobiletin in mandarin oranges helped suppress the allergic reaction.9
7. Drink Oolong Tea To Ease Allergy Symptoms
Oolong tea, which is essentially tea that’s been partially fermented, has been found to help relieve the symptoms of eye and nasal allergies. A Japanese study found that it reduced allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and tears even during a period when pollen count was high.10 Oolong tea can add to the effects of anti-allergy agents and even help you cut the use of these medicines. So sip on a cup of soothing tea to deal with that irritating allergy.
8. Apply Damp Tea Bags To Soothe Swollen Eyes
Once you’re done drinking your tea, don’t throw away the used tea bags. Tea contains tannins which have an astringent quality. Place cool, damp tea bags on your closed eyelids for 2–5 minutes to relieve puffy eyes.11
9. Nosh On Berries To Fight Histamine Release
A flavonoid called quercetin which is present in blueberries, bilberries, and blackberries – and which gives them their trademark color – can stop your body from producing and releasing histamine. One study even found that when people took a quercetin glycoside 4 weeks before pollen counts became high in the atmosphere, they experienced relief from symptoms such as itching and watering of the eyes caused by cedar pollen.12 So start snacking on yummy berries before pollen season gets here to beat your eye allergy.13
10. Apply Cucumber Slices To Soothe Swollen Eyes
Cucumber slices are a favored remedy for swollen eyes. Leave a cucumber in the fridge and slice up two cold, thin slices. Place a slice each over your closed eyelids and let it sit for a few minutes. Cucumber has caffeic acid and vitamin C, which ease water retention and soothe irritated skin.14
11. Avoid Allergens
This might seem obvious but has to be said! The best way to get rid of an allergic reaction or prevent it from getting worse is to avoid substances that trigger it. Dust, pollen, and mold are common offenders. Here are a few steps that can help you avoid these triggers:
- Pollen levels tend to be high on dry, hot, and windy days. During the day, they’re likely to be highest in the early evening and midmorning. Try to avoid going outdoors during these times if possible.
- When you’re outdoors, use sunglasses to minimize the amount of pollen that gets into your eyes.
- Wash your bedding, particularly pillow covers, in hot water to minimize dust mites.
- Use a damp mop on your floors and a damp cloth for dusting so that dust doesn’t fly around.15
|↑1||Allergic conjunctivitis. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑2||Candee, Andrea, and David Andrusia. Gentle Healing for Baby and Child: A Parent’s Guide to Child-friendly Herbs and Other Natural Remedies for Common Ailments and Injuries. Pocket, 2003.|
|↑3||Conjunctivitis. American Academy of Ophthalmology.|
|↑4||Kurup, Viswanath P., and Christy S. Barrios. “Immunomodulatory effects of curcumin in allergy.” Molecular nutrition & food research 52, no. 9 (2008): 1031-1039.|
|↑5||Chung, So-Hyang, Seong Hyun Choi, Jin A. Choi, Roy S. Chuck, and Choun-Ki Joo. “Curcumin suppresses ovalbumin-induced allergic conjunctivitis.” Molecular vision 18 (2012): 1966.|
|↑6||McIntyre, Anne. Herbal treatment of children: Western and Ayurvedic perspectives. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2005.|
|↑7||Allergic rhinitis. University of Maryland.|
|↑8||Vazouras, Konstantinos GI, Jota Partheniou, and Ioannis DK Dimoliatis. “Alleviation and prevention of severe allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis following long-term lemon juice use: a case report.” Cases journal 2, no. 1 (2009): 8971.|
|↑9||Hara, Yuko, Atsushi Shiraishi, Yuri Sakane, Yuki Takezawa, Tomoyuki Kamao, Yuichi Ohashi, Sho Yasunaga, and Takuya Sugahara. “Effect of Mandarin Orange Yogurt on Allergic Conjunctivitis Induced by Conjunctival Allergen ChallengeEffect of Orange Yogurt on Allergic Conjunctivitis.” Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 58, no. 7 (2017): 2922-2929.|
|↑10||NIINO, Hitoshi, Kengo OBARA, Yuko SAGESAKA, Megumi SUZUKI, Nanae IIGAYA, Koji OGAWA, Masahiko HAYASHI, and Jong-Chol CYONG. “Clinical effect and safety of oolong tea” ogonkei” for seasonal allergic rhino-conjunctivitis caused by pollen.” Journal of Traditional Medicines 25, no. 1 (2008): 10-17.|
|↑11||Green, Wendy. 50 Things You Can Do Today to Manage Hay Fever. Summersdale Publishers LTD-ROW, 2010.|
|↑12||Hirano, Toru, Mari Kawai, Junsuke Arimitsu, Masako Ogawa, Yusuke Kuwahara, Keisuke Hagihara, Yoshihito Shima et al. “Preventative effect of a flavonoid, enzymatically modified isoquercitrin on ocular symptoms of Japanese cedar pollinosis.” Allergology International 58, no. 3 (2009): 373-382.|
|↑13||Quercetin. University of Maryland.|
|↑14||Goswami, Priyanka Kantivan, Mayuri Samant, and Rashmi Srivastava. “Natural Sunscreen Agents: A Review.” Sch. Acad. J. Pharm 2, no. 6 (2013): 458-463.|
|↑15||Allergic Conjunctivitis. University of Rochester Medical Center.|