Maybe you’ve been using antihistamines, or your home’s heater is draining all the moisture from your eyes. Or, the aging process is starting to cause dry eyes – specifically menopause. The dryness is uncomfortable and can lead to eye infections if left untreated. Whatever the cause, consider using a warm compress to treat your condition.
Luckily, a warm compress can be an effective treatment for soothing dry, irritated eyes. Dry eye occurs when your eyes fail to produce enough tears, resulting in redness, eye fatigue, irritation, blurry vision, and a burning sensation.
Warm compresses help hydrate the eye and can reduce inflammation. They also help unclog oil glands responsible for secreting meibum, a fatty substance that slows down evaporation by coating the tear film. Likewise, they can reduce twitching due to eyelid spasms.
A compress is a cinch to make using common household items. For instance, you can soak a washcloth in warm water and apply it to the eyes. Also, store-bought compresses can do the trick, helping treat dry eye symptoms. On that note, consider checking out dry eyes warm compress recommended by the Dry Eye Directory – If you prefer to remain within the boundaries of conventional treatments.
When using warm compresses, it’s advisable to follow specific protocols, as improper use can worsen symptoms associated with dry eye. Here’re some dos and don’ts to bear in mind if you opt for this approach:
- Ensure the compress is not hot – Test it on your wrist or underarm before applying it to your eyes. This also implies using warm water to prepare the compress to avoid burning the sensitive skin surrounding your eyes. Ideally, 40C (or 104F) is the sweet spot, allowing the warmth to soothe and moisturize your eyes while melting thickened oils.
- Use gentle circles – Gently massage your eyes with the compress in slow circles or as recommended by your physician. This stimulates tear production and provides relief.
- Shoot for 15 minutes – Studies suggest you’re likely to get great results if you apply a warm compress for 5-15 minutes. In just five minutes, tear film oil layers revealed an impressive 80% increase in volume. After a quarter of an hour, the rate increased to 100%, drastically improving overall eye health.
- Use a clean washcloth – Always use a clean, damp washcloth. And if you’re applying the compress to both eyes, it’s advisable to use separate washcloths for each eye. By so doing, you can avoid the risk of cross-contamination or infection. Also, use a new cloth and fresh water for each session.
- Be consistent – Regularly applying a warm compress can beat the dryness and help you enjoy healthy eyes. A 12-week study to determine the efficacy of regular use of compresses established a reduced level of phospholipase (an enzyme associated with inflammation) in the tear film.
- Avoid eyeshadow – Don’t wear eye shadow when using a warm compress (even if you’re a makeup enthusiast). Powder or cream-based cosmetics can easily absorb moisture from your eyelids and worsen dryness. Plus, eyeshadow can clog the pores around your eyelids, further contributing to dryness.
- Don’t use a cold compress – A cold compress can worsen your condition by shrinking blood vessels and reducing circulation to the area. Plus, it may not do much to reduce inflammation.
- Stay away from chemicals – Avoid adding chemicals like Epsom salts to the water you use to prepare your compress, as they can cause irritation or burn the skin around your eyes. Likewise, a chemical hot pack may cause burning if it leaks or punctures. In short, good old plain water should do.
- Refrain from overuse – Too much of a good thing can be harmful. For instance, applying a warm compress too often can lead to dryness, especially if your eyes are parched. Use it sparingly and take breaks between applications. In this regard, twice a day would be ideal.
- Avoid multi-purpose washcloths – Don’t apply a towel or washcloth you use for other purposes, such as wiping surfaces. Doing so may cause an eye infection – due to bacteria or harmful chemicals.
These tips can help you get the most out of your warm compresses, letting you enjoy healthier and moist eyes. But if a compress doesn’t relieve eye dryness or your symptoms persist, it’s advisable to seek medical attention. Or, you may try alternative remedies to see if they work, as a warm compress is merely one of the ways to treat dry eye.
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