A young woman sneezing

Avoid itchy eyes during hayfever season

  • Hayfever is a common allergic condition that affects one in five people at some point in their life.
  • Symptoms of hayfever can include itchy, red or watery eyes, a runny nose and sneezing.

Affected people may experience hayfever symptoms if they have an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen is fine powder released by plants and when these tiny particles come into contact with your eyes, nose, mouth and throat, they can trigger an immune response causing the body to react with swelling, irritation and inflammation

Some people’s eyes can be particularly sensitive to pollen. Our body’s natural response is to wash the pollen out, which is why some people end up with watery eyes. They can also become red, itchy, and sticky as the immune system reacts.

There is no cure for hayfever, but many people find their symptoms improve as they get older. Symptom relief treatment is available to use during the pollen season.

You can treat your hayfever symptoms with over-the-counter medications from your local pharmacist. Anti-histamine nasal sprays and/or tablets are one of the best ways to relieve symptoms and should be taken before the hayfever season starts for the best results.

Eye drops containing antihistamine are also available from your pharmacy. These should reduce the inflammation in your eyes and relieve the itching. Sometimes, allergic reactions may need review by an eye specialist and treatment with medication that dampens down the immune reaction such as steroids.

The following can help to reduce the hayfever symptoms:

  • Wear wraparound sunglasses to help reduce pollen contact with the eyes.
  • Shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after spending time outdoors to remove any pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Dry washed clothes indoors during the peak pollen season.
  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is high – different types of pollen can affect different people, although there can be a crossover. A pollen forecast can be viewed at the Met Office.
  • Alcohol may increase allergy symptoms and should be avoided when your hayfever is at its worst.
Hussain, Badrul

Written in association with

Mr Badrul Hussain

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

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