A woman applies sunscreen to a man's face. She avoids sunscreen in his eyes

Applying sunscreen is a great way of protecting yourself from cancer-causing ultraviolet light. But getting sunscreen in your eyes can be painful. Today we’re going to talk about what to do if this does happen.

What does sunscreen do to my eyes?

If you get sunscreen in your eyes, the chemicals can irritate the surface. Sunscreen in your eyes can cause a burning, stinging sensation. However, it won’t cause any permanent eye damage.

How do I prevent sunscreen in my eyes?

Rachel Sabo, MD discusses what happens if you get sunscreen in eyes

The best way to keep your eyes sunscreen-free is through careful application. Apply lotion sunscreen carefully and slowly to your face, taking care to avoid your eyes and eyelids. Mineral based sunscreens, such as ones with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, are best since they stick to your skin better and are less likely to run into your eyes, CEENTA Ophthalmologist Rachel Sabo, MD, said. Avoid using spray-on sunscreens on your face. If you use spray-on sunscreen on your body, be sure to avoid directing the spray in the direction of your face. Also, be aware of your surroundings and the direction of the wind to avoid accidentally spraying someone else in the face.

Keep sunblock containers away from children and be sure to apply their sunscreen for them. Don’t let your child apply sunscreen themselves, since they might rub their eyes without fully cleaning their hands.

To protect the delicate skin of the eyelids, wear UVA/UVB blocking sunglasses.

How do I get the sunscreen out of my eye?

The best thing you can do for you or your child’s eyes is to immediately flush them with water. A shower is ideal, but any steady stream of water is good. Flush your eyes for 15-20 minutes, blinking your eyes regularly while you do. If you wear contacts, make sure to remove them first.

Your eye may still be a bit irritated and red once you’ve completed the flushing process. However, this is likely just because your eye is still irritated from when you had sunscreen in it. It may also be reacting to the constant flushing. Give it another 15 minutes or half an hour to see if your eye completely recovers. A cold compress can also help soothe the pain. Use preservative-free artificial tears frequently for the next few days. Avoid using eye drops with preservatives, since the chemicals could cause further irritation.

In many cases, you’ll be fine, with the irritation disappearing completely after a few days. However, if your eye is still irritated, make an appointment with an eye doctor for a complete examination.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Dr. Sabo practices in our Statesville office. To make an appointment with an eye doctor near you, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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February 03, 2021

this was very very helpful thank you
- jennot

June 26, 2019

This information was very helpful! Thank you so much.
- Ann Scism

June 26, 2019

Thank you very much.
Reply From: CEENTA

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