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Causes of an Itch Around the Eyes

by
author image Debby Mayne
Debby Mayne started writing professionally in 1992. Her work has appeared in regional parenting magazines and she has been managing editor of the magazine, "Coping with Cancer." She was also fashion product information writer for HSN. During college, Mayne worked as an instructor at a fitness center. She holds a Bachelor of Science in health, PE and recreation from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Causes of an Itch Around the Eyes
Itchy eyes may be caused by several conditions. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Overview

The eyes are one of the most easily affected parts of the body because they are open most of your waking hours, they are moist and the tissue around them is tender. Pet hair, pollen and other particles that float through the air may drift into the eyes, irritating them and causing an itching sensation. Other conditions may cause itching eyes, and in some cases you'll need medical treatment to heal.

Allergies

Itching, burning and tearing of the eyes may be an indication that you are suffering from allergies. Some of the elements that may cause eye allergies are pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold, cigarette smoke, perfumes and automobile exhaust. As uncomfortable as eye allergies may be, they hardly ever cause permanent damage or serious harm to your eyes, according to an article on the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website.
To avoid allergens that affect the eyes, stay indoors when the pollen count in your area is high. When you go outdoors, wear glasses and sunglasses to create a shield from airborne particles. Change air conditioner filters monthly and wash bedding in hot water to eliminate dust mites. Try to avoid rubbing or scratching your eye area to avoid further irritation and possible infection. Clean all moist areas, such as the kitchen and bathroom, frequently to avoid mold. After handling pets, wash your hands before touching your face.

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Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is caused by bacteria, a virus or allergies, according to the Mayo Clinic. In some cases, it may be contagious, and it may spread from one eye to the other. Conjunctivitis inflames the membrane lining your eye lid and causes the blood vessels in that area to redden. In some cases, you may have a discharge from the eye area. If you suspect you have conjunctivitis, see your doctor for treatment as soon as possible.

Dry Eye

If your eyes don't produce the right amount of tears to stay lubricated, you may have dry eye, which can be irritating and cause itching. William Dupps, M.D., PhD, an ophthalmologist at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute, explains that there are three layers of tears—water, oil and protein. Dry eye may be caused by an imbalance of these elements.
There are several treatment options for dry eye. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription artificial tears. Increase omega 3 fatty acid foods if your condition is caused by insufficient oil. Salmon, tuna, flaxseed and walnuts are excellent sources of omega 3. Avoid air blowing direction into your eyes from air conditioning vents in your home and car. If your dry eye is causing inflammation in the eye lid, oral antibiotics may help. A last resort may be surgery to plug the drain that removes tears from the eye surface.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis, an eye lid inflammation, is caused by bacteria or allergies. This common condition may create an itchiness and swelling around the eyes and a scaly texture at the eyelash base. As this condition progresses, the eyes become more irritated, and a crust may form. It may give you the sensation of always having something in your eye.
An article on the Cleveland Clinic website claims that blepharitis isn't curable, but it is treatable. The first step is to apply a warm, wet washcloth over your closed eyes for about five minutes to loosen the crust and oils. Next, apply baby shampoo or mild soap diluted with half water to the area with a warm washcloth, keeping the eye closed as you gently rub the cleansing solution over the area. Rinse with a clean, wet washcloth and pat dry.

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References

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