My Child Has Itchy Eyes

Itchy eyes

Itchy, watery eyes can be due to an allergic reaction to pollen or other environmental irritants.

Having itchy eyes is not pleasant.

It can get in the way of your child’s school progress and daily activities.

Children may not complain of itchy eyes, but carry on rubbing their eyes throughout the day. Sometimes their eyes can even start appearing red and puffy.

There are many causes of itchy eyes. This page will help you learn more about itchy eyes and how to find the right treatment for your child.

Itchy eyes can be a symptom of multiple conditions, ranging from allergies, dry eye, anterior blepharitis to viral/bacterial conjunctivitis.

The key to understanding why your child’s eyes are itchy is to  make note of other associated factors and discuss them with your optometrist.

It is a good idea to think about the following:

  • When does my child complain of itchy eyes?
  • Is there any associated watering or discharge?
  • When does the itchy feeling get the worst?
  • What do I do to alleviate the itchiness?

Pollen is one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergy.

Common Causes of Itchy Eyes

Allergic conjunctivitis is the most common cause of itchy eyes in children. Allergies have long been associated with adverse skin reactions such as rashes and hives. However, the eyes are as commonly affected by allergies, and can be either seasonal or all year round.

If you’re child comes in contact with an allergen, it can cause red, watery, itchy and sometimes even puffy eyes.


Angioedema is swelling that is similar to hives, but the swelling is under the skin, while for hives the swelling is on the surface. Angioedema may be caused by an allergic reaction. The body releases histamine when the immune system detects a foreign substance called an allergen.

There is often an appearance of marked red papillae on the inside of the lids that our optometrists can check for. It is more common in boys than girls and often seen after children have been playing outdoors or been in contact with an allergen.

In severe cases of allergies, a discharge in the form of mucus can be seen from the eyes. It is important to distinguish between mucus and pus discharge associated with a bacterial infection. See your optometrist if your child has any type of discharge.

Children with keratoconus need to be particularly careful around allergy season, as rubbing the eyes can make both the keratoconus and allergies worse.

Anterior blepharitis

Anterior blepharitis is commonly caused by bacteria or dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows, as in this photo of an eye with seborrheic blepharitis.

Dry eyes can often create a gritty, itchy feeling. The lack of moisture leads to a feeling of sand in the eye. This can often result in a your child constantly blinking or rubbing the eye in an attempt to lubricate the eyes with tears.

Anterior blepharitis is a condition that is commonly found in children. It causes stickiness, clumping and crusting of the eyelashes. It can also cause inflammation of the eyelids, giving rise to red eyelids.

Seeing your optometrist will help identify whether your child has anterior blepharitis and the treatment required.

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are serious conditions. Click for more information about these conditions.

Treatment Options Depend on the Cause of Itchy Eyes

Swollen and pus-filled eye

Swollen and pus-filled eye is associated with bacterial infection.

Treatment of itchy eyes depends on what caused the itchiness. Constant rubbing of the eyes can have detrimental effects on the eyes of your child such as causing abrasions to the surface of the eyes, vision distortion by changing the shape of the front of the eyes, exacerbation of allergies, poor eyelid function, and even droopy eyelids.

  • If it is an allergy-related itchy eye, then identifying the allergen by keeping an allergy diary and avoiding it is the first step. Anti-allergy eye drops can be prescribed by your optometrist in moderate to severe cases, along with cold compresses.
  • If it is a case of dry eye, treatment options available can range from lubricants to changing environmental conditions (increasing blinking or the humidity of a room).

Seeing that there are many causes for itchy eyes, with some being very serious conditions, it is important that it is examined and professional advice is sought for both you and your child by your optometrist.