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Eye Allergies: Brief Version

What are eye allergies?

Eye allergies are an allergic reaction to an allergic substance on the eye. Eye allergies can cause your child's eyes to:

  • Itch (no pain)
  • Tear more
  • Turn red or pink (no pus)
  • Swell (the eyelids)

Eye allergies that happen around the same time every year are caused by pollens from plants in the air. Allergies caused by pollen last about 4 to 6 weeks. Other kinds of allergies can be caused by pets (like cats), feathers, perfumes, or eye makeup.

How can I take care of my child?

Here are some things you can do to help:

  • Wash your child's face. Use a clean washcloth and cool water. This will clean any pollen off the eyelids.
  • Tell your child not to touch his eyes.
  • Your child should shower, shampoo, and change clothes after playing outside.
  • Use air conditioning or an air purifier if you can. This helps clean the pollen out of the air.
  • Use eye drops prescribed by your doctor, if needed. Antihistamine eye drops that you can buy without a prescription may help too.
  • If your child has hay fever, he also needs an oral antihistamine. You can buy Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin without a prescription. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which one to use.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • Using a washcloth and an antihistamine do not make your child better in 2 or 3 days.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2009-06-22
Last reviewed: 2018-07-13
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2018 Barton D. Schmitt, MD FAAP. All rights reserved.
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