Even though you tell your child not to itch their eyes, mosquito bites, or rashes, you know it’s going to be hard for them to listen to you. After all, you know it’s hard for you not to scratch and itch.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t warn them, however. If their eyes itch, it could be allergic conjunctivitis, which is a common eye allergy. Take a moment as the highly skilled ophthalmologists and optometrists at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists PC explain what you need to know about this condition.
What is allergic conjunctivitis?
Allergic conjunctivitis develops when the conjunctiva becomes inflamed. The conjunctiva is a membrane that covers the inside of your eyelids and your eyeball. It is susceptible to irritation from the environment and allergens because it’s so exposed and sensitive.
Common allergens that can affect the conjunctiva are the same allergens that commonly cause seasonal allergies, such as pollen, dust, pet dander, mold spores, and chemical substances.
When your eyes come into contact with an allergen, histamines and other chemicals are released to fend off the offending substance. These histamines cause inflammation and other symptoms.
Common allergic conjunctivitis symptoms include:
- Swollen eyelids
- Burning sensation
- Watery eyes
- Gritty feeling like there is dirt in your eyes
Allergies affect people of all ages, but mostly children. They often run in families.
What allergic conjunctivitis is not
In addition to allergic conjunctivitis, other things can make your eyes itchy, watery, and red. If dirt, smoke, or chlorine from a pool gets into your eye, you can develop symptoms that are similar to allergies, but aren’t allergies.
Pink eye is often caused by allergic conjunctivitis, but it’s not the same condition. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. Pink eye, also called infectious conjunctivitis, is a viral or bacterial infection of the eye tissue that is often contagious.
Additionally, makeup or certain medications can irritate your eye and produce similar symptoms as allergic conjunctivitis. However, some treatment options to reduce symptoms are the same regardless of what your condition is called. Warm or cool compresses, eye drops, and lubricating eye drops may help relieve many symptoms.
How to prevent and treat allergic conjunctivitis symptoms
If the treatments mentioned above fail to provide relief from irritating allergic conjunctivitis symptoms, others can help relieve your allergies. Some of these treatments include:
- Antihistamine pills
- Prescription eye drops
- Allergy shots/immunotherapy
The best way to prevent symptoms is to determine your allergy trigger and do your best to avoid it. For example, if your child is allergic to pollen, keep track of daily pollen counts in your area, and have your child stay indoors and keep your windows closed when the count is high.
If your child is allergic to pet dander, don’t keep a pet in the house, and have your child wash their hands every time they come in contact with a pet. Vacuum and dust often to keep your household dust-free.
If your child’s eyes are itchy, red and watery, call ABC Children’s Eye Specialists PC with offices in Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona, for an appointment, or request one online.