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Ask the Allergist

Ask the Allergist

What can I do to help treat swollen eyes after cat exposure?

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I have a cat. My boyfriend regularly has red, puffy eyes when he comes over to my house. This didn’t seem to happen a few months ago. He has tried every over-the-counter allergy medicine. We also vacuum our home regularly. The eye puffiness has not gone away. What medicine can help his symptoms?

This would depend on the cause of the eyelid swelling. It may be the cat, or a reaction to a different or additional trigger. I suggest he visit a board-certified allergist who can help with a diagnosis and identify his trigger(s). Once the trigger is officially diagnosed, a treatment plan can be developed.

If he is developing allergic conjunctivitis and red itchy eyes with swelling, it may be caused by an airborne allergen. Oral (by mouth) and ocular (in the eye) antihistamines may be helpful.

If the symptoms are only eyelid swelling with a rash on the eyelid, it may be contact dermatitis caused by a chemical.

Allergy, Eye Allergy, Pet Allergy
Answered by

Douglas T. Johnston, DO, FAAAAI, FACAAI, is an allergist/clinical immunologist at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Assistant Professor at Edward Via School of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). He has lectured at national and international medical conferences and has publications in several medical journals, including “Clinical Immunology,” “World Allergy Organization Journal,” “Journal of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology,” “The Journal of the American Medical Association,” and the “New England Journal of Medicine.”

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*I am not a doctor,*  I suffer from cat allergies also.  Gently wash your eyes, face with clean water & ivory soap, or gently use a baby wipe cloth.  Use Refresh eyedrops. If you lay down in your bed after touching, being with the cat, you will have to wash, clean your bedding before you go to sleep again.  Its not being "rude," if you want to be near cats, to wear a mask, gloves, eye covering/protective goggles.  Cat dander gives me asthma, along with other allergic reactions.  I can't be near big cats at the zoo, so glad I can watch them on TV, on internet, at a distance.  Before staying at a person's house, Bed & Breakfast, ask first if there are any roaming house hold cats? 


@Whippetartist's suggestions are great! I'd only add to her mask recommendation.

It's finally a lot easier to find a really good protective mask (specifically, N95s, P95s, N100s, P100s, and KN95s). These are definitely more effective (compared to cloth masks).

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