Why do my eyes get itchy in summer?
Summer is the perfect time for a break away from work, exam stress, or even just the stuffy confines of the indoors. However, it can be difficult to relax and enjoy yourself if you’re suffering from itchy, irritated eyes! There are a few culprits behind itchy eyes in summer, which I’ll explore below.
Good old fashioned hayfever, or allergic rhinitis, can be a pain in the neck (or eyes!), especially between late March and September, when pollen counts are at their peak. Your immune system is responsible for fighting off harmful foreign bodies, but sometimes it can over-react to harmless allergens such as pollen, dust and animal dander.
Your immune system will then release a chemical called histamine, which increases swelling and inflammation. If you’ve suffered from hayfever before, you’ll recognise common symptoms such as sneezing, a runny or blocked nose and itchy or watery eyes. Any combination of these symptoms can present themselves when your body comes into contact with pollen during the summertime.
So, if your itchy eyes are caused by high pollen counts and hayfever, what can you do? The most effective way to avoid hayfever symptoms, such as itchy eyes, is to avoid pollen completely. However, if the last thing you want to do on your summer holiday is lock yourself away indoors, don’t fret! Here are some tips to avoid your allergies acting up when you’re outside during the summer months:
- Try Pollinosan. Alfred Vogel devised this herbal remedy to treat symptoms of hayfever, by calming the enthusiasm of your immune system to make sure it doesn’t try to trap and kill harmless particles, like pollen.
- Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from airborne allergens – this will shield them from harmful UV rays while you’re at it!
- Wash your hands and clothes as soon as you come indoors after being outside to make sure the allergens don’t become trapped in your house too!
- Avoid using harsh products around your eyes, opting for light creams for sensitive skin rather than a heavy, perfumed face wash or moisturiser.
- If you can, choose to wear your glasses rather than contact lenses, as these could irritate your eyes even further by trapping those nasty allergens.
- Don’t rub your eyes! This could make things even worse, so try holding a (clean!) cold compress over your eyes for a few minutes at a time to relieve swelling and itching.
Another culprit that could be responsible for your itchy eyes during summertime is over-the-top air-con. Whether you’re working in the office or travelling on a long-haul flight, too much exposure to air-conditioning can dry out your eyes, leaving them itchy and irritated. Although air-conditioning can be very necessary during the warmer months, it can dry out the air as well as your eyes!
If you have the option, open a window to allow fresh air to circulate instead of recycling old, dry air with air-con. However, if you’re prone to hayfever, make sure to take precautions to avoid pollen irritating your eyes! Or, if the air-con unit in your office is the only source of cool air, try not to sit too close.
When preparing for a long-haul flight, pack an eye mask which can help to protect your eyes from recycled air, and might even help you to get 40 winks in the process! Plus, make sure to pack eye drops in your briefcase or carry-on luggage. This will help to keep your eyes lubricated and avoid irritation. Our Extra Moisturising Eye Drops are great for this!
Swimming is the perfect way to cool off when on holiday, and can be a fun way to exercise with the whole family at your local pool. However, if you are experiencing itchy eyes, swimming could be to blame!
It’s very important to look after your eyes while swimming, whether it’s in a chlorine pool or in the sea. If you swim without goggles you risk exposing the conjunctiva (that thin, transparent layer which covers and protects your eye) to chemicals such as chlorine. This can cause the protective layer to become inflamed and may lead to symptoms like itching and burning. Even if you’re swimming in the sea or a salt-water pool, forgoing your goggles could mean that bacteria from the water can find their way into your eyes and cause similar symptoms.
Plus, no matter where you’re swimming – a chlorine pool, the sea, freshwater rivers or lakes – make sure to leave your contact lenses back in the hotel! If you swim with contacts in, they can become a breeding ground for bacteria, even after just one swim. The last thing you want is for that bacteria to sit in the tiny gap between your contacts and your eyes for hours on end and cause a nasty eye infection. If you struggle with your eyesight, you can get fitted for prescription goggles - these will allow you to swim underwater safely, without resulting in itchy eyes, or bumping into other holiday-goers!
So, if you have been swimming minus the goggles and your eyes are suffering, remember:
- Wash them gently with diluted, soapy water
- Don’t rub them
- Use a cold compress to get rid of itching
- Try our soothing Eye Drops.
Finally, it’s important to always drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated, especially during the summertime or while away on a tropical holiday. If your body becomes dehydrated, it will conserve water, meaning that it won’t be able to produce the tears required for lubricating your eyes and keeping them clean.
So, that means dry eye syndrome could be responsible for your itchy eyes in summer! You should be drinking at least 1.5-2 litres of water every day to keep your body healthy but, if you’re sweating a lot in the summer heat, you need to drink even more than this.
Dehydration can be at the root of many nasty health problems - drinking water can help to alleviate all sorts of conditions, from constipation to poor skin. So, try to up your water intake and feel the benefit all over your body, not just your eyes!
Click here to read more about dry eyes and what can be done to prevent them. If you suffer from dry eyes as a result of menopause or other conditions, our Extra Moisturising Eye Drops can help to lubricate and soothe chronically irritated eyes.
When are itchy eyes a cause for concern?
If you suffer from itchy eyes which aren’t soothed by eye drops or a cold compress after a few days, talk to your doctor to make sure there isn’t a more serious cause behind your symptoms. Similarly, if you experience discharge or vision changes, make sure you get them examined by a doctor or optician.