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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cholakova

Don't Cry Over Shampoo. Quick Fixes for When Shampoo Gets in Your Eyes!

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

What happens when shampoo gets into your eyes, and what should you do about it? We've all been there before. In the middle of a nice, warm shower, shampooing our hair, when suddenly, a drop of the soapy shampoo gets into our eyes. The burning, stinging sensation that follows can be unbearable and often lead to immediate concerns about our eye health.

Keep on reading to learn more and react fast.

How and why shampoo irritates the eyes?

When shampoo gets into your eyes, it immediately causes eye irritation, redness, stinging, watering, and burning. The reason is shampoo formulas contain various chemicals such as sulfates, fragrances, and preservatives. These can be extremely irritating to the delicate tissues of the eyes.

The eyes are very sensitive to pH and shampoos are typically designed to be slightly alkaline. That is to remove dirt and oils from the hair. So when shampoo gets into the eyes, it can disrupt the natural pH balance of the tears. Which further contributes to eye discomfort, redness, and irritation.

What to do when shampoo gets into your eyes?

shampoo in eyes irritation

If you do get shampoo in your eyes, the first thing to do is to try to flush it out with clean, cool water. This removes the shampoo from the surface of the eye and reduces the burning feeling. (As for the irritation and redness, these symptoms will also pass soon, once you flush your eyes.)

Avoid rubbing your eyes or applying pressure, as this can further irritate the tissues and potentially cause damage. Instead, try to keep your eyes open and let the water flow over them naturally.

Next, use a clean, damp washcloth to gently wipe away any excess shampoo from your eyelids and lashes.

In summary, this is what to do and not to do when shampoo gets into your eyes:

  • Flush your eyes with clean lukewarm water

  • Do NOT rub or apply pressure to the eyes

  • Wipe any excess shampoo around the eyes

Please note that in some severe cases, shampoo in the eyes can cause a corneal abrasion (a small wound on the corneal surface), or scratch on the surface of the eye, which can be very painful and require treatment from an eye care professional.

So if the burning and discomfort persist after several minutes of flushing with water, or if you experience vision changes or significant pain, seek medical attention right away.

Preventing shampoo from getting into your eyes

To prevent shampoo from getting into your eyes in the first place, tilt your head back slightly when washing your hair. This keeps the shampoo away from your eyes and reduces the risk of accidental exposure. Moreover, try using your hands or a towel to cover your eyes while washing the shampoo out of your hair.

While getting shampoo in the eyes is a painful and uncomfortable experience, it is generally not a cause for major concern. By flushing your eyes with water and avoiding rubbing or applying pressure, it's easy to reduce discomfort and prevent further irritation.

Getting shampoo in a kid's or baby's eyes

Baby having a bath

Babies, toddlers, and youngsters have extremely sensitive eyes but at the same time tend to be playful, active, overstimulated, and even reckless in the bathroom. Truth is, kids are hard to bathe. Getting shampoo in their eyes at one point is almost inevitable.

In case that happens, follow the steps and proceed with lukewarm water flushing (just like you would do if shampoo gets in your eyes). The good news is, kids' shampoo is way more gentle so the possibilities of complications are very low.

If you want to protect your baby or kids' eyes during bath time, there are protective shower hats and shower caps you can get. Those products are very effective in keeping shampoo away from the little one's face. There are also certain kids' shampoo brands with safe, mild, and gentle formulations that cause minimal or even no pain and irritation to the eyes.

If you or a family member still experience persistent pain or vision changes long after shampoo exposure and eye flushing, seek medical help as soon as possible.

Read more about eye health and eye care in our ophthalmology blog for patients.

All medical facts are checked by Atanas Bogoev M.D.

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