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What are some signs of eye allergies in children?

Eye allergies occur when the body's immune system reacts inappropriately to an otherwise harmless foreign substance, called an allergen. There are several kinds of eye allergies. Some are caused by airborne allergens such as dust, mold, pollen or animal dander. Others are caused by medications or an allergy to contact lenses.

Symptoms of eye allergies include irritation, redness, swelling, mucous secretion, itching (and frequent rubbing) and tearing. If you your child has been diagnosed with a mild allergy and you don't think he needs to be seen, you can treat him at home. Wash his face to get rid of any allergens that collected there and make sure to wash his hair daily. Rinse his eyes with warm water and apply a cold compress to the itchy eyes.

If your child has symptoms of the nose as well as the eyes, he probably has hay fever. You can give him oral antihistamines every six to eight hours until pollen season is over. (Each type of pollen generally has a season of about two months.) You can also use artificial tears or antihistamine eye drops. Try to keep your child away from the allergen if possible (e.g. if it's a particular kind of animal). Cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust and perfume can exacerbate allergy symptoms, so try to keep your child stay away from these. Your child may need to stop wearing his contact lenses temporarily, until the symptoms go away.

If your child's symptoms don't go away after two days of treatment or if his symptoms worsen, you should call his doctor. You should also make an appointment if your child's eyes are swollen shut or almost swollen shut, if he has blisters on the whites of his eyes or inner eyelids, or if you have any questions or concerns.