October 9, 2023

Many people experience itchy, bloodshot eyes once in a while in their lifetime. Red, itchy eyes can indicate irritation, stye (sty), lack of sleep, or contact lenses. That itchy or burning sensation can make it challenging to get through your day. If you notice an uptick in your eye symptoms, here is what you should understand about what causes itchy bloodshot eyes and what treatments will help you relieve red, itchy eyes.

What Causes Itchy, Bloodshot Eyes?

The redness occurs when tiny blood vessels under your eye’s surface become more prominent or inflamed. Several reasons can make your eyes red and itchy, including:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Corneal injuries
  • Dry eye disease
  • Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
  • Contact lens irritation
  • Blepharitis
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stye (sty) is a red, painful lump near the edge of your eyelid that looks like a pimple or a boil.
  • Keratitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Pink eye (Conjunctivitis)

Knowing the cause of your itchy and bloodshot eyes can help you choose the best treatment method. Here are some questions below that will help you make an informed decision.

  • Do you wear contact lenses? If the answer is yes, your contact lens solution or your contact lenses may be causing your symptoms
  • Do you always face itching and burning eyes, or only if you are around triggers? Things like perfumes, pollen, or smoke can irritate your eyes. This can be a symptom of an allergic reaction.
  • Do you notice a tearing, gritty, or burning sensation? If so, this can be a sign of dry eye syndrome.
  • Did you start using new skincare or cosmetic products? If yes, this can be a sign of a new contact allergy. Maybe your bloodshot, itchy eyes started after using new eye creams, makeup, or other products that go near your eyes.
  • Do you have eye discharge? This may be a sign of pink eye.

If your answer is “yes” to more than one question, it can be possible that more than one thing is causing your red, itchy eyes condition.

5 Ways to Fix Itchy, Bloodshot Eyes

No matter the reason for red and itchy eyes, hundreds of home remedies can relieve eye burning, redness, itching, and grittiness. Here are the top five things to try at home:

  1. Cool Compress
    The cool temperature does double duty; it soothes itchiness and irritated skin and helps tighten blood vessels. This helps relieve eyelid puffiness and also reduces inflammation and redness.
    To make and apply a cool compress:

    • Soak a clean and soft towel/cloth in cool water.
    • Lay it gently over your eyelids.
    • Please keep it in place for approx 3 to 5 minutes.
    • Repeat this procedure as needed. Just make sure to use a clean cloth every time.
    • You can also use cucumber slices as they are packed with the added benefit of antioxidants. But remember to don’t freeze them as frozen items can damage the delicate skin around your eyes.
  2. Warm Compress
    If you have a stye or an ingrown eyelash (if the eyelash grows inward instead of outward), try a warm compress instead of a cold one. The warmth allows the opening of the area and provides drainage. This will relieve and soothe eye redness and itchiness.
    For a warm compress:

    • Fill a sock with dry white rice.
    • Microwave it for 10 to 15 seconds.
    • Check to make sure the sock is not too hot.
    • Lay it gently over your eyelids for about 5 minutes.
    • Repeat this process throughout the day.
    • You can also use reusable warm packs made especially for the eyes.
  3. Lubricating Eye Drops
    Lubricating eye drops work like extra tears. They soothe itchiness and moisten your eyes, dehydrated ones. They are also available as ointments and gel for extra moisture. Furthermore, these options are better for use before bedtime, as they can lead to blurry vision.
    Some of the best over-the-counter brands include: 

    • Clear Eyes
    • Refresh
    • Systane
    • TheraTears
  4. New Contact Lens Care Routine
    Maintaining hygiene is key to healthy eyes if you depend on contact lenses. Ensure you take the best care of your contact lenses by removing them at night and replacing them as directed.Here are a few tips for good contact lens use:

    • Make sure only to use sterile saline for contact lens storage.
    • Use hydrogen peroxide-based solution to clean your contact lenses or your case.
    • Leave your case open to let the lens dry out completely.
    • Replace your case every three months.
  5. Saline Eye Flushes
    Saline eye flushes help to flush out allergens like pet dander, mold spores, and pollen–even particles from perfume and smoke. Try a saline flush if you have allergies.To use saline eye flush:

    • Wash your hands properly.
    • Take out your contact lenses (if you’re wearing them).
    • Gently pour some sterile saline into your eyes, letting it out the other side.

    Always remember to use sterile saline that is made for eye care. Don’t use tap water or homemade saline to wash your eyes.

The Bottom Line

Itchy, bloodshot eyes are not a severe condition. You can try several treatments at home, like warm and cool compress, saline eye flush, lubricating eye drops, etc., but if your symptoms don’t get better within 2 or 3 days, it is important to seek help from an eye doctor.

Furthermore, suppose you notice any vision changes, such as sudden sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or eye pain. In that case, these are the signs of more severe eye problems that require immediate medical help.

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