“There are about 50 million Americans who struggle with these allergies that are bothering their eyes each and every spring,” says Dr. Kunin, the founder of skin-care line DERMAdoctor. “People who are prone to allergies, first of all, tend to be more prone to having very sensitive skin in general. When you have a lot of irritation or inflammation in a general area, that whole region tends to be much more hyperreactive to products you may already be using and new products.” Plus, there can be an overgrowth of the normal bacteria that live on the lid and lash, which can make things worse.
In addition to using your eye drops, there are three skin-care rules for itchy eyes you want to follow this spring.
3 skin-care rules to follow for itchy eyes
1. Use ophthalmologist-approved skin care around the eyes
“If you are allergy-prone around the eye area, make sure that the skin-care products you’re using around the eyes are not just marked as dermatologist-tested and approved, but also ophthalmologists-tested and approved,” says Dr. Kunin. “This means that there’s been additional testing overseen by an ophthalmologist to make sure that product is hypoallergenic for that area and less likely to cause a bad rash or reaction.”
If you don’t want to sacrifice your eye cream routine for all of allergy season, these three ophthalmologist-approved formulas should be safe to use.
Twenty Twenty Beauty Visionary Eye Shadow Stick — $22.00
This makeup line was created by a board-certified ophthalmologist so those who have sensitive eyes can still have fun with beauty. These eye shadow sticks are made with gentle, eye-safe ingredients to add some color to your look without the irritation powder-based eyeshadows can sometimes cause.
2. Avoid fragrance
Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, says to avoid “anything with fragrance or ingredients you may be sensitive to.” According to Dr. Kunin, fragrances and dyes are the leading causes of contact dermatitis, an allergic skin reaction. She explains that because your eyes are already irritated due to seasonal allergies, they’ll be more reactive than usual to whatever skin-care ingredients you’re using, so you’ll want to take extra care this time of year to use sensitive-skin-friendly formulas.
3. Keep your lids and lashes clean
“It’s really important, not just during allergy season, but all year long, to have excellent lid and lash hygiene,” says Dr. Kunin, adding that this directive goes double for anyone who wears fake eyelashes or has lash extensions. Of course, this means keeping your lids nice and clean, and thoroughly removing eye makeup at the end of the day.
In addition to using your go-to fragrance-free cleansers, Dr. Kunin says you can use hypochlorous acid sprays to keep your lid and lashes free of harmful bacteria. She says that hypochlorous acid is an ingredient naturally produced by the body, and “it kills the normal bacteria and yeast that hang out on the lids and lashes and are just waiting to take advantage of the situation and cause irritation, styes, and worsening eyelid allergies during the allergy season.”
Avenova OTC Antimicrobial Spray Solution — $30.00
Dr. Kunin, who is chief product officer for NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Avenova, recommends the brand’s hypochlorous acid spray. “You’re not spraying it at your eyes,” says Dr. Kunin. “You’re applying it with whatever you like—a wipe or tissue or something.”
Get more tips for caring for your eye skin:
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