Have you felt that irresistible urge to rub and rub your itching eyes till your eyes ache! Chances are high that you’ve experienced itchy eyes at some point in your life.
In fact, having an itchy sensation in and around the eyes is a very common problem and one that can be really frustrating and uncomfortable.
The symptoms associated with itchy eyes are: burning sensation in the eyes, watery eyes, inflamed eyelids, redness in the eyes, discharge from the eyes and increased sensitivity to light (1).
Itchy eyes or ocular pruritis as it is medically termed is mainly due to an allergic reaction or some kind of infection.
Yes, our eyes too are prone to allergies just like the other parts of the body. Eye allergies occur when the body overreacts to some factor.
The immune system produces antibodies that cause your eyes to release chemical substances like histamines. These substances are mainly responsible for all the symptoms mentioned above. Other causes include dry eyes, use of contact lenses, improper eye hygiene, use of expired eye cosmetics and some foreign substance in the eyes, such as dust or sand (2).
The problem can be recurring for those who frequently touch or rub their eyes. Also, the itching sensation worsens in a high-polluted environment or during the allergy season. It is also important to find the source of the trigger as in most allergies so as to avoid its recurrence. Eye allergies can be seasonal or perennial. The treatment options and self help remedies recommended for eye allergies are similar to nasal allergies.
It is important to treat itchy eyes quickly, as leaving your eye untreated can lead to further complications and increase your risk of eye damage.
For instant relief, you can try some easy natural treatments. Many of these remedies use readily available ingredients from your kitchen. Just make sure whatever you put in your eyes is hygienic and clean.
However, if the problem is severe, recurrent or caused by an underlying condition, consult your eye care professional. Health experts recommend determining the cause of itchy eyes before looking for the solution.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for itchy eyes.
1. Cold Compresses
A cool, moist clean washcloth is the best remedy for itchiness that is a result of some kind of allergy. It also helps alleviate dryness as well as irritation. Not only are cold compresses effective, but they are easy to do and very economical. You can alternate between warm and cold compresses also.
You can use either of the methods below 3 or 4 times a day.
- The simplest way to do this is to soak a cloth in ice cold water, wring it out and place it over your eyes. Remove after 5 minutes and repeat a few more times.
- Alternatively, wrap some ice cubes or a package of frozen food like peas in a clean cotton towel. Place it over your closed eyelids and remove it after 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat 2 or 3 times more.
- You can dip the compress in warm water, wring it and then apply it over your eyelids for 5 minutes. This can be alternated with cold compresses for 20 minutes. Do this 3 or 4 times throughout the day.
Chamomile has been used in traditional medicine for many therapeutic purposes including eye infections and eye disorders (4).
Due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic effects, chamomile tea can be used as a cold compress or as an eyewash to help relieve itchy eyes. It inhibits the release of histamine, which helps prevent an allergic reaction that can lead to itchiness in the eyes.
Chamomile also reinvigorates tired eyes and leaves them feeling fresh and sparkly.
- Steep 1 chamomile tea bag in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag, then allow the tea to cool. Use the cool tea as an effective eyewash, 2 or 3 times a day.
- Alternatively, put used chamomile tea bags in the refrigerator. Put the chilled tea bags over your closed eyelids for 10 minutes. Do this 3 or 4 times a day for fast recovery.
Cucumbers are real cool veggies as they have many medicinal properties and are also used as an active ingredient in many beauty products.
Cucumbers contain chemicals called cucurbitacins that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits (5). Cucumbers are also rich in phytosterols that have antioxidant and skin healing properties. They also have antibacterial activity (6). These help reduce swelling and irritation associated with itchy eyes.
Plus, its cooling nature is effective at reducing puffiness and dark circles under the eyes.
- Thoroughly wash a cucumber and cut it into thin slices.
- Refrigerate the slices for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Put the chilled cucumber slices over your closed eyes for at least 10 minutes.
- Repeat 4 or 5 times a day.
You can also blend a cucumber and strain the juice. Soak a cotton ball into the juice and apply it over your eyelids for 15 minutes.
You can use raw potatoes (peeled and sliced) in the same manner to combat itchiness in the eyes.
4. Cold Milk
Milk is another popular home remedy for itchy eyes. Milk is reported to have many bioactive molecules that are responsible for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (7). Cold milk soothes the burning sensation and eases discomfort of itchiness in the eyes.
The fat in milk is very soothing and relaxing for tired eyes.
- Dab a clean cotton ball in cold milk. Rub it around your closed eyes. Do this twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
- You can also place a cotton ball soaked in cold milk over your eyes as a compress for 15 to 20 minutes for an instant cooling effect. Do it 3 or 4 times a day.
5. Rose Water
Pure rose water is one of the most effective home remedies for itchy eyes. According to skin specialists, rose water has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and irritation. Its antioxidant properties help in strengthening and regenerating the skin tissue.
It is soothing and cooling for the eyes and helps clear the itchiness.
Rose water even works as a natural relaxer for strained and tired eyes. Plus, it helps fade dark circles and under eye puffiness.
- Rinse your eyes with pure rose water at least twice a day.
- You can also use rose water as eye drops for instant relief. Put 2 or 3 drops of rose water into the inflamed eye, twice a day.
- Dip 2 cotton balls in rose water and place them over your closed eyes for 15 to 20 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day.
6. Green Tea
Green tea has many health benefits, including providing relief from itchy eyes. It soothes the eyes and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits (8).
This tea also helps fight viral and bacterial infections that may be causing the itchy sensation in the eyes.
- Boil 1 cup of water. Dunk 2 green tea bags in it and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, then let the tea cool completely. Flush your eyes twice a day with the solution until your symptoms subside.
- You can also put a moist and cool green tea bag over your closed eyelids for several minutes. Repeat several times a day.
7. Saline Solution
Flushing out your eyes is another effective remedy if you get an allergen, such as dust or pollen, in your eye that is causing the itchiness.
All you need is water and salt to make a saline solution that is helpful in treating painful and itchy eyes. When used as an eye rinse, the combination is good for irritated and inflamed eyes and helps wash away any debris in the eyes.
Plus, salt is an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent that helps get rid of microbial infections (9).
- Boil 1 pint of filtered water.
- Allow it to cool down, then add 2 to 3 teaspoon of salt to it.
- Mix thoroughly until the salt dissolves completely.
- Use it to flush your eyes of all the allergens. Or, you could dip a cotton pad or a clean tissue in this solution and wipe your eyes with it.
- Repeat several times a day for 2 or 3 days.
Note: Always make sure the water isn’t too hot, or else it may damage your eyes. Also, use separate cotton pads or tissues for each eye.
8. Aloe Vera
Owing to its soothing and moisturizing properties, aloe vera is another effective home remedy for dry, sore and itchy eyes. Aloe vera has well-researched anti-inflammatory properties (10).
Aloe vera’s medicinal properties also make it effective for reducing eye puffiness and inflammation.
- Rinse an aloe vera leaf thoroughly. Slit it open and extract the gel. Anoint the outside of your eyelids with this gel. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse it off. Do this 2 times a day or as needed.
- Another option is to soak a cotton pad in aloe vera juice and place it over your closed eyes. Rinse your eyes after 15 minutes. Do this twice daily for a couple of days.
9. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is also good for relieving the itching sensation in your eyes. It contains tannins that reduce swelling and has antibacterial properties (11). Its anti-inflammatory and astringent nature helps reduce swelling and irritation in the eyes.
- Dip a cotton swab in witch hazel and wipe it along the edge of your top eyelid. Repeat on the lower eyelid with the other end of the cotton swab dipped in witch hazel. Use another cotton swab for the other eye. Do this 2 times a day for a few days.
- Another option is to use any over-the-counter witch hazel wet tissues. Place them over your closed eyes for 15 minutes. Repeat 3 times a day to get effective results.
10. Castor Oil
Castor oil works as a great moisturizing agent. Hence, it is good for treating dry and itchy eyes. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help fight eye infections.
Interestingly, castor oil also nourishes your eyelashes and helps them grow thicker and longer.
- Using a sterile dropper, put a drop of cold-pressed castor oil in each eye at night before going to sleep. If you have dry eyes, you can use it daily to lubricate your eyes.
- When suffering from conditions like blepharitis, dip a cotton swab in the oil and wipe it along the outside of your eyelid to help clear up the infection. You can also place a warm towel over your closed eyelid for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this a couple of times a day for a few days.
Note: Make sure the oil you use is organic and hexane-free castor oil. Do not put castor oil in your eyes if it causes a lot of burning and redness in the eyes.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes, as it can worsen the symptoms.
- Do not wear contact lenses for an extended period of time. Also, clean them regularly.
- Never use expired eye drops.
- Do not share contact lenses or eye makeup with another person.
- To control eye itching, avoid visiting areas where there are known allergens.
- Include carrots and spinach juice in your diet to improve your eye health.
- Consider taking vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements for overall eye health. Consult your doctor first.
- Wear eyeglasses or sunglasses to protect your eyes when going out in the sun.
- Use artificial tears to refresh your eyes when they feel dry.
- Take breaks during long tasks to let your eyes rest. Follow the 20-20-20 rule of gazing at a distance of 20 feet for 20 seconds every 20 minutes of eye straining work.
- Avoid blowing air into your eyes while using hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners or fans.
- Try to remain indoors when the pollen count in the environment is high. Close the windows and use the air conditioner instead of the fan as there are more chances of pollen and spores being drawn inside.
- Keep dust mites at bay by using fresh clean pillow covers. Also, expose mattresses, pillows, and other bedding to the sun to kill microbes. Replace very old bedding materials with new ones.
- If you don’t get relief, consult an eye specialist immediately.
- Itchy, Red Eyes? How to Tell If It’s Allergy or Infection – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/itchy-red-eyes-how-to-tell-if-its-allergy-or-infection/.
- The Itchy Eye: Diagnosis, Management of Ocular Pruritis – American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eyenet/article/itchy-eye-diagnosis-management-of-ocular-pruritis.
- Holly. Diagnosis and Management of Red Eye in Primary Care. 2010;81(2). www.aafp.org/afp.
- Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future (review). Mol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901. doi:10.3892/mmr.2010.377.
- Kaushik U, Aeri V, Mir SR. Cucurbitacins – An insight into medicinal leads from nature. Pharmacogn Rev. 2015;9(17):12-18. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.156314.
- Uzodike E, Onuoha I. The Effect Of Cucumber (<i>Cucumbis Savitus</i>) Extract On Acid Induced Corneal Burn In Guinea Pigs. J Niger Optom Assoc. 2010;15(1). doi:10.4314/jnoa.v15i1.55592.
- Visioli F, Strata A. Milk, dairy products, and their functional effects in humans: a narrative review of recent evidence. Adv Nutr. 2014;5(2):131-143. doi:10.3945/an.113.005025.
- Tipoe G, Leung T-M, Hung M-W, Fung M-L. Green Tea Polyphenols as an Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Agent for Cardiovascular Protection. Cardiovasc Hematol Disord Targets. 2007;7(2):135-144. doi:10.2174/187152907780830905.
- Wijnker JJ, Koop G, Lipman LJA. Antimicrobial properties of salt (NaCl) used for the preservation of natural casings. Food Microbiol. 2006;23(7):657-662. doi:10.1016/J.FM.2005.11.004.
- Reynolds T, Dweck A. Aloe vera leaf gel: a review update. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;68(1-3):3-37. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(99)00085-9.
- HMPC. Community herbal monograph on Hamamelis virginiana L., cortex. 2011. http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Herbal_-_Community_herbal_monograph/2010/04/WC500089244.pdf.