Allergies can cause a variety of symptoms including puffiness around your eyes. While puffy eyes are a common symptom of allergies, other conditions can also cause discomfort and irritation in and around your eyes. Determining the source of your discomfort can help you lessen or prevent allergic reactions in the future.
Allergic reactions occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance. Even though allergens, such as pollen and pet dander, aren’t harmful, your immune system mistakenly identifies them as invaders and threatening substances. Allergic reactions can involve several areas of your body, including your digestive system, sinuses, airways, skin and the mucous membranes surrounding your eyes.
During an allergy attack, you may experience a variety of eye conditions including itching, watering and swelling. The redness and puffiness may come on suddenly whenever the allergen is present. The medical terms for allergies that affect your eyes are ocular allergies and allergic conjunctivitis.
Pollen is the most common allergen. In addition to causing puffiness and irritation around your eyes, seasonal allergies to pollen, known as allergic rhinitis, may include a runny nose and sinus congestion. Topical solutions, such as lotions, soaps, eye creams and eye makeup, can also cause localized irritation and inflammation to the mucous membranes and skin surrounding your eyes.
Avoiding the allergens responsible for your discomfort is the best way to prevent puffiness and swelling. However, you may not be able to avoid all types of allergens such as dust mites, molds and fumes. The All About Vision website recommends using a cold wet compress on the outside of your closed eyelids to provide temporary relief. Over-the-counter antihistamines and eye drops may also help reduce eye irritation and puffiness.
Rubbing your eyes can increase the itching and irritation. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology warns that the prolonged use of some types of eye drops can make your symptoms worse. Talk to your doctor if you haven’t received a medical diagnosis regarding your eye condition. Other conditions may mimic the symptoms of eye allergies. Viral and bacterial infections can cause a condition known as pinkeye. Pinkeye is often contagious and may require medical treatment.