Rubbing Your Eyes Is More HARMFUL Than You Think

Waking up is not the same without lazily rubbing your watery eyes, even though you know deep down that it may not be such a good idea. This is an all-too-familiar struggle for so many people. You may even be tempted to think that rubbing your eyes is no big deal, but in reality, the truth is the opposite of that. 

Rubbing the delicate and thin skin of the eye area can have dire consequences for your eye health and skin appearance. This article will help you understand how frequent rubbing can harm the eye area and what you can do to stop rubbing your eyes too often.

The Consequences of Eye Rubbing

Rubbing Your Eyes Man Rubbing Eyes

Dermatologists point out that the eye area has the thinnest and most delicate skin in your entire body. That’s why rubbing the skin around the eyes more than merely twice a day can have a detrimental effect on your skin’s appearance and health.

Doctors encounter the following problems that result from frequent eye rubbing:

1. Dark circles
Rubbing your eyes can lead to dark undereye circles. Friction damages tiny blood vessels under the skin, causing them to break and bleed. As a result, you’ll observe dark circles under the eyes called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Fortunately, this is not permanent damage, but it can return if you get in the habit of eye rubbing again.

Rubbing Your Eyes Dark circles

2. Corneal damage
Chronic eye rubbing can cause damage beyond the skin too. Microscopic scratches to the cornea - the protective transparent layer that covers the iris and the pupil - and fairly common too. Gradually, scratches can lead to the thinning of the cornea, which, in turn, worsens your eyesight and causes blurry vision and astigmatism.

Related article: Warning! These Eye Health Myths Are Ruining Your Eyesight


3. Wrinkles around the eyes
Wrinkles develop when the skin loses elasticity. And the thinner the skin, the higher the risk of developing wrinkles early on. Since the skin around the eyes is very delicate, even seemingly minor mechanical damage like rubbing the eyes can stretch the skin and lead to premature wrinkles. Repeated rubbing can also make the skin appear dry, which accentuates wrinkles.

Rubbing Your Eyes Wrinkles around the eyes

4. Glaucoma gets worse
Glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve is damaged. Gradually, more and more patches of a person’s field of vision vanish, ultimately leading to blindness. In most cases, glaucoma treatment involves lowering intraocular pressure. Frequent eye rubbing can compromise the treatment and cause spikes in eye pressure, speeding up the progression of glaucoma.

5. Red and watery eyes
Do people often tell you that your eyes look red and tired? Rubbing can lead the tiny capillaries in the eyes to break and rupture, which gives that familiar bloodshot appearance to the eyes.

Rubbing Your Eyes man in a tend rubbing his eyes

6. Increased risk of eye infection
At this point, we’re all keenly aware that our hands need frequent washing and that germs are around us. So, why do we still think that it’s okay to rub our eyes with those dirty hands throughout the day? Realistically, it’s not, and each time you do so, you are potentially exposing the eyes to germs. Bacteria and viruses can enter the bloodstream through the eyes, and chronic eye rubbing is linked to an increased risk of pink eye and conjunctivitis.

Here’s some good news to keep in mind. While rubbing the eyes is harmful, wearing swimming goggles and light tugging on the eyelid, such as when you put on contacts or apply eye makeup, causes no negative health effects. Likewise, a light patting or dabbing motion when you apply skincare products around the eye area will not cause harm.

Why Do Eyes Get Itchy?

Rubbing Your Eyes eye examination
From dry eye disease to allergies, your eyes may get itchy for a variety of reasons. If the itchiness causes you to rub your eyes frequently, schedule an appointment with your physician to address the issue. A doctor can prescribe topical steroid drops, antihistamines, or hydrating drops to reduce itchiness.
For more information on the causes of eye irritation, read this helpful guide - No More Irritated Eyes: Read Our Full Guide!

Teach Yourself to Stop Rubbing Your Eyes

In many cases, rubbing your eyes is just a harmful habit. Although it may take some time to break the habit, most negative effects of chronic eye rubbing are reversible, so you’ll be sure to notice a positive difference quickly. 

Here are several useful tips that can teach you to stop rubbing your eyes:

  • Apply a cool compress by folding a damp clean cloth over your eyes when you get the urge to rub itchy eyes.
  • If you wear contacts, switch back to your glasses for a few weeks. The glasses will help you be more mindful of how often you feel the need to rub your eyes and give you the opportunity to prevent it.
Rubbing Your Eyes woman with eye patches looking in the mirror
  • When you wash your eyes, avoid using sponges or washcloths. Instead, gently massage the cleanser with your fingers and rinse well.
  • If your eyes feel swollen or irritated, use a face roller or eye patches to calm your eyelid skin and reduce puffiness.
  • Whenever you feel like something got stuck in your eyes, flush it out using artificial tear drops or an eye wash solution instead of rubbing the eye.
  • Treat the underlying cause of itchy eyes, be it allergies or dry eye disease.
  • Wear sunglasses or protective eyewear when you’re outside or engaged in activities like sports or repair work.

H/T: Huffington Post, Summiteyekc.com

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