- Allergic reactions are a common cause of puffy eyes
- Triggers include pollen, pet dander, dust mites and mold
- Cosmetics, include perfume and makeup, may also cause allergic reactions
- Some people may be allergic to their contact lenses
- In some cases, eye allergies may result in allergic conjunctivitis
Typical signs of allergies include swollen eyes, watery eyes, redness, and itching. A variety of treatments exist, including home remedies such as cold compresses designed to reduce swelling in the eye area as quickly as possible, eye drops applied directly to the affected area, and prescription and over-the-counter oral preparations that target the root cause of the condition.
Why Do Allergies Cause Puffy Eyes?
Allergies are triggered by exposure to certain proteins that are harmless to most people’s systems but are treated as foreign bodies by the tissues of those with specific allergies. When bodily tissues experience an allergic reaction, the immune system releases a nitrogenous compound known as histamine into the bloodstream as well as antibodies for the purpose of fighting the allergens.
Airborne allergens such as mold spores, pollen, pet dander and dust mites typically cause itching, redness, watering and swelling of the eyes. This is usually accompanied by sneezing and itchy and runny noses. Other types of allergic reactions, including those specific to cosmetics and contact lenses, generally don’t affect the nose. These cases cause itching, pain, swollen blood vessels, watering and redness. Some people also experience dry eye as a result of allergies and may gain relief from using artificial tears.
It isn’t always easy to tell between puffy eyes allergies cause and their counterparts created by illness, lack of sleep, aging or eating a diet heavy in salt—however, some degree of itching is usually a part of the picture when allergies are the culprit. For immediate—but temporary—relief from puffiness, swollen eyelids and itchy eyes, make a cool compress using a washcloth and cold water.
You can also fold an ice cube in the washcloth and hold it to the eye area to bring down swelling caused by fluid retention. Chilled spoons also work.
Which Allergies Cause Puffy Eyes?
Common allergens that result in puffy eyes include pollen, pet dander, mold spores and dust mites. Some people may experience reactions to ingredients in makeup or cosmetic products, while others react to contact lenses or the cleaning agents used in their care.
Although anecdotal evidence suggests that foods in the nightshade family, such as eggplants and tomatoes, may cause swelling in the eye area, science has yet to back up those claims.
However, those who suffer from lactose intolerance may experience puffy eyes as a side effect of overall bloating caused by this condition. Shellfish allergies also cause inflammation of bodily tissues, including those in the eye area.
How to Treat Puffy Eyes Caused by Allergies
Many people find relief by using over-the-counter products designed to alleviate the symptoms of allergies in the eye area. Antihistamine drops are a popular option for those suffering from puffy eyes allergies cause. Studies suggest that liposomal sprays may be as effective as antihistamine eye drops when it comes to alleviating allergy symptoms.
Cold compresses provide short term relief from itching and swelling caused by exposure to allergens. Oral antihistamines may also provide some temporary benefits for those seeking relief from allergy symptoms. In some cases, allergy shots may help.
When to See a Doctor
Those experiencing prolonged symptoms or symptoms that routinely interfere with their overall quality of life should discuss the situation with their ophthalmologist. Your eye doctor can work with you to devise a customized strategy designed to keep incidents of swelling, redness, watering and itching to a minimum after identifying the primary irritant. You may be referred to an allergist to pin down the exact cause of your puffy eyes.
Seasonal allergies, as well as permanent allergies, cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms affecting the eyes, including watering, itching, redness and swelling. Remedies range from cold compresses for a quick fix to treatment by an allergy specialist. Eye drops, oral antihistamines and artificial tears offer other ways to combat puffy eyes caused by allergies. It often takes a combination of trial and error to identify which strategies work best for each individual.