Do I have an allergy in my eye?

Q. I am a woman in my 30s. Recently, my eyes were red and itchy, although it did clear after a few days. 

The same thing happened this time last year, could this be an allergy?

A. This must have been very uncomfortable for you. It is possible that the symptoms you describe may be caused by an allergy particularly if you have noticed that it is seasonal. Allergic conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva that is the thin skin covering the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. It can be caused by an allergy to pollen from grass or trees during the hay fever season. It tends to occur at the same time each year, usually for a few weeks. An allergy to dust mites or cosmetics is also a possibility. Eye drops are sometimes prescribed but it will usually resolve without treatment.

Pollen is a physical dust, and while it cannot be completely avoided, here are some general steps that you can take to try to minimise the effects: ” Avoid the allergen if known.

* Avoid rubbing your eyes.

* Wash your hands regularly.

* Steep a face cloth in cold water for a few minutes, then wring it out and place over the eyes.

* Wear wrap around sunglass when outdoors.

* Keep car windows closed and use pollen filters.

* Keep windows closed in the house at night so that pollen cannot get in.

* Avoid freshly cut grass and grass-cutting.

It might help to avoid wearing eye make up for a time, check how long any eye products have been open and if necessary, throw them out. Wash make up brushes once or twice a month.

As you have experienced this more than once, I would suggest that you make an appointment to visit your GP. He / she can examine your eyes and find the cause of the inflammation and advise on appropriate management. However, if the symptoms return before your appointment and you are in any way concerned or your vision is affected, then you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Q. I think I may have athlete’s foot. Can I self-treat this at home with over-the-counter remedies? 

A. Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is the most common fungal infection of the skin on the feet where an itchy red rash develops in the spaces between the toes, usually found in adolescents and young adults. Flakes of the infected skin can fall off and this helps the spread of the infection to other toes or along the sole of the foot. Fungi live on the skin but if these organisms multiply in the right conditions the skin can become infected. The feet and the warm, moist space between the toes, provide ideal conditions for this to happen. Injury to foot, tight footwear and regular use of public showers and pools act as predisposing factors for developing the disease.. Treatment is usually with an antifungal medication — cream, powder, spray or liquid.

I think that it is important to get a diagnosis before starting to use over-the-counter remedies. I would advise you to make an appointment with your GP, who will examine your foot and make a diagnosis. If it is athlete’s foot, your GP will advise on the most appropriate treatment for you.

To treat athlete’s foot and help to prevent further infections, here are some general suggestions for you:

Wash your feet regularly and thoroughly.

Dry your feet thoroughly, particularly between your toes before you put on socks or tights.

Don’t share towels.

If you use swimming pools or communal changing rooms, wear flip-flops rather than going bare foot.

Avoid tight fitting footwear and don’t wear the same shoes every day.

Avoid wearing damp shoes e.g. wet running shoes.

As we are heading into summer and warmer weather, when you are at home try going about bare feet or wear open toe sandals as much as possible. This will let the air circulate around your feet.

I am sure that your GP will be able to reassure you.


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