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How and When to Use Warm Eye Compress

It’s spring and there’s one prob­lem we know our patients will men­tion to us: dry, itchy eyes from all the pollen here in the Tri-State and Atlanta regions. We suf­fer from the pollen, too, and we’re eye­care pro­fes­sion­als!

Before you reach for eye­drops or aller­gy tabs, try a warm com­press for eyes. It could bring you some pret­ty fast relief!

Make a Warm Not Hot Eye Compress!

Don’t use water that’s too hot for your com­press — it can burn the sen­si­tive skin around your eyes. We’re talk­ing tepid to warm water, at a tem­per­a­ture you’d feel safe for bathing a baby or pet.

Wash your hands with soap. Don’t use hand san­i­tiz­er — it doesn’t clean as well as soap. Fill a bowl with warm water and dip a clean, dry wash­cloth in it. Don’t use one you’ve already show­ered or bathed with because it will have soap residue. You want a cloth that’s been laun­dered since it’s last use. Soak the wash­cloth and wring it out.

Impor­tant: If both your eyes are affect­ed, use two wash­cloths so that any poten­tial infec­tion doesn’t spread.

If you wear con­tact lens­es, take them out; in fact, it’s a good idea to wear glass­es until your eyes recov­er. Fold the cloth and close your eyes. Put it on your tired, puffy eye for sev­er­al min­utes. Lie down and enjoy a quick nap. When the cloth cools down, turn it inside out and use the warm side for a few more min­utes. Repeat the process with fresh warm water if you need more relief.

Keep wash­cloths used for eye com­pres­sions sep­a­rate from the rest of the laun­dry to avoid pass­ing along an infec­tion. Wash them in hot water.

Why Did the Warm Eye Compress Work?

A warm com­press for eyes adds mois­ture to relieve that grav­el­ly feel­ing you get from dust and pollen par­ti­cles. It also soaks up oils that your eye glands nat­u­ral­ly make but can get clogged up from pollen, pol­lu­tion, or even eye make­up that should be thrown out.

As you know, warm com­press­es also relieve pain. Eye pain is no dif­fer­ent. Heat, even low-heat com­press­es, relax­es mus­cles and relieves pain from infec­tions, some­thing eyes are prone to dur­ing aller­gy sea­son.

Warm Eye Compresses Can Relieve Irritations from Conjunctivitis and Styes

Aller­gies can trig­ger con­junc­tivi­tis (pink eye), a com­mon eye infec­tion. Warm com­press­es can relieve the itch­ing and pain it brings, includ­ing from swollen eye­lids.

Non-aller­genic con­junc­tivi­tis can also be spread by shar­ing tow­els, cloth­ing, make­up, pret­ty much any­thing that comes in con­tact with the eye area. Con­tact lens wear­ers are prone to get­ting it if they don’t prop­er­ly store and ster­il­ize their lens­es.

Con­junc­tivi­tis can clear up on its own, but any event caused by a chem­i­cal splash should be treat­ed by a physi­cian right away.

Sim­i­lar­ly, styes can be treat­ed with warm com­press­es. Styes are abscess­es or pim­ples that form near eye­lash­es on upper or low­er lids. Most of the time they will heal on their own, but a stye that grows inside the eye­lid must be treat­ed by a physi­cian. Styes often start as sore spots on the upper or low­er eye­lid. The heat from a warm com­press can drain the sore and pre­vent it from devel­op­ing into a stye.

Our blog has lots of infor­ma­tion on treat­ing com­mon eye irri­ta­tions. Use the links above to learn more about iden­ti­fy­ing and pre­vent­ing them.

May 20th, 2019|Comments Off on How and When to Use Warm Eye Compress

About the Author:

Born in Connecticut and raised in Upstate New York , Dr. Stetson graduated Cum Laude from Colgate University in New York, and then earned an MD degree with honors at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He distinguished himself again in residency at the Albany Medical Center, where he obtained the highest percentile in the Ophthalmology Knowledge Assessment Examinations. Dr. Stetson has performed more than 50,000 refractive surgeries and has been on staff at Diamond Vision since 2004, before becoming Medical Director in 2006.
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