Have you ever wondered why your tears burn like acid? Why do your tears feel hot? It’s a question that has been asked for centuries, but now we finally have an answer.
If this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry, we have the solution! Read our blog post if you want to get rid of that burning sensation!
Why do tears burn when I cry?
Your eyes may burn because your tears aren’t enough in quantity or quality to provide adequate lubrication and nutrition. As a result, it can develop into a painful sensation that feels like a foreign body or burning.
Why do my tears burn my face when I cry?
When you cry, the saltwater from your tears hits your face, and it makes it sting (even more on delicate skin.) The tears burning your face happen because tears are salty and salt is drying. So when we cry, our tears can dry out our skin which causes the burning feeling on our faces.
Why do tears leave red marks?
Porphyrin is a red compound found in many biological processes, including blood, muscles, and tears.
Whenever someone cries, their eyes secrete more tears laden with porphyrin, which can stain the skin around the eyes producing those tell-tale “raccoon eye” circles.
Some people use red or pink eyeliner to help hide raccoon eyes. Note that your eyes might dry out and feel irritated if you use too much eye makeup.
Why do tears make my face itch?
Your face itches because your tears have a salt content, and salt makes your skin dry. The dehydration in your tears can also strip away the natural oils from your skin, leaving it dry and vulnerable to the irritations of the environment.
Do tears irritate skin? Yes, that is why we recommend using a moisturizer after you’ve cried to restore moisture balance to your skin.
Also, drinking water throughout the day will help maintain optimum hydration levels needed for healthy-looking skin.
Do tears cause pimples?
Yes, because rubbing from crying can clog the pores. Pimples and acne are often caused by skin oil and bacteria getting trapped in pores and triggering an inflammatory reaction.
If you wear makeup to cover up the redness of your eyes, be sure to use oil-free products so as not to worsen the situation.
Causes of burning eyes
Contact lens wear
If you wear contact lenses, your eyes are likely irritated by the lens material or solutions.
If you experience eye irritation when wearing contact lenses, remove them immediately to protect your eyes from further damage.
Environmental factors like air humidity, airborne chemicals, and pollution can irritate your eyes.
If you live in a particularly dusty area or spend long hours commuting, make sure to carry wet wipes for face cleansing.
And if the environment is particularly polluted, consider wearing protective eyewear.
Dryness can cause your eyes to burn, regardless of environmental factors.
If you are exposed to dry air in the winter or live in an area with low humidity, it’s essential to moisturize your skin daily because it will help keep irritation at bay.
Acid forming food
If your eyes burn after eating certain foods, you are likely at risk of indigestion.
Fruits like oranges and lemons can cause burning in the eyes because they contain high amounts of acid. The acid enters the bloodstream and travels to the tear glands, producing acidic tears that irritate your eyes.
Uveitis is an inflammation in the eye. Some causes are blood vessels or the immune system, infection, or injury.
Inflammation can cause severe irritation, blurred vision, discomfort, and stinging pain in the eyes.
If you experience burning or severe redness in your eyes, consult your optometrist to rule out uveitis as a possible cause.
Chemicals commonly found in the workplace, household products, and medications can also trigger eye discomfort.
If your eyes burn after using new cleaning chemicals or perfumes, you’re likely sensitive to one of the ingredients.
In cases where irritation lasts for an extended period due to continued exposure, consult a medical professional to determine if your condition results from chemicals.
Sometimes, burning eyes are a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, can cause oozing and crusting in the eyelid corners. Other symptoms include a mucus discharge from the eyes and painful sensitivity to light.
If your symptoms persist for more than a few days, it’s essential to seek medical attention.
Tear glands secrete saline-based tears to protect the eyes from irritants and foreign objects.
However, when your tears contain a high amount of acidic compounds like phosphoric acid, you may experience eye irritation and discomfort.
Phosphorus is an essential component in many foods our body needs for survival. But it can also be poisonous in high doses.
When your body absorbs too much phosphorus, you excrete it through the tears and sweat glands. That’s why some people experience eye irritation after consuming foods rich in phosphorus like eggs, meat, and fish.
In rare cases of excess intake, you may need to visit the hospital for intravenous hydration.
People with allergies tend to have hypersensitive immune systems that produce more histamine molecules responsible for allergic reactions.
Histamine increases the permeability of membranes and therefore increases tear production. That explains why you might feel the urge to cry when you have allergies.
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Treatments for burning eyes
Artificial tears with lubricants, non-preserved saline solution eye drops, and ointment with glycerine sulfate to rehydrate the cornea.
If you wear contact lenses, consider using preservative-free or daily disposable lenses to reduce the risk of infection. Also, invest in a good quality brand that won’t irritate your eyes.
Eat less acidic food.
Low acid foods include green leafy vegetables, bananas, milk, pears, and cucumber.
If you’re sensitive to acidic food, consider using rice milk or soy milk instead of regular dairy products.
You have to limit oranges, lemons, and other acidic fruits to no more than one serving per day.
Drink more water
Drinking plenty of water ensures that your tear glands are well-hydrated and produce less acidic tears. It also helps prevent eye infections.
Use a humidifier
Use a humidifier in the home or office to increase moisture levels in the air, reducing the chances of developing allergies and dry, itchy eyes.
Tips for good eye health to avoid burning tears
Choose Better Personal Care Products
Choose Personal Care products that are less likely to irritate your eyes.
Avoid aerosol sprays and scented beauty products if sensitive skin or easily irritated eyes. Just because a product is marketed for babies doesn’t mean it won’t harm adults with hypersensitivity.
Wear sunglasses outdoors
With wraparound sunglasses, protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays, wind, and dust. Avoid cheap lenses with coatings that scratch easily.
Get an eye checkup
Regularly visit the optometrist to ensure your eyesight is sharp and healthy. Check for presbyopia, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and other conditions that could cause burning eyes in the future.
Use allergy eye drops.
If you have allergies, consider using over-the-counter eye drops that work to reduce symptoms.
Reduce screen time
Looking at screens for long periods can cause digital eye strain, which leads to dry eyes like burning, itchiness, and redness.
Take frequent breaks when using computers, TVs, or smartphones. Use a blue light filter.
Get natural sleep
Tired eyes lead to increased stress hormones which can increase tear production and irritate your eyes. In addition, you’ll wake up with dry, burning, or itchy eyes if you don’t get enough quality sleep every night.
Ensure the room is cool and well-ventilated so that moisture levels are higher.
Remove all lights when you go to sleep. If insomnia keeps you awake, avoid caffeine in the afternoon or evening which can disturb your sleep cycle even if it makes you feel more alert.
Wash your face at night
If you wear eye makeup, remove it with a gentle cleanser and water before bed.
Take a shower at night, or use a steamy washcloth on your face to open up the pores and drain them of dirt, bacteria, and allergens.
Remove and clean contact lenses before going to bed
Sleeping in your contacts makes it hard for the oxygen and water to reach your eyes. The result is that your eyes are drier, and you are less able to fight bacteria. Sleeping in contacts can cause a stinging feeling, or worse, an infection.
Keep your eyes moisturized.
Moisturize your eyelids and the skin around the eyes to keep the area hydrated and reduce the chances of dry, itchy eyes from developing in the future.
Make a DIY eye mask by soaking cotton pads in lavender oil or tea tree oil before placing them over your eyes. Use a warm compress.
Keep damp tea bags or slices of cucumber in your fridge and place them over your eyes for 5-10 minutes several times a day to reduce puffiness and increase blood flow to the lower eyelids. Try green tea bags or cucumber slices as an alternative.
Cucumbers are high in silica which aids in collagen production.
Clean your eyelids
Wipe your eyelids clean at night with a soft cloth and mix water or castile soap with an equal part of apple cider vinegar. Dip the material into the solution and then wipe over both eyelids for 1-2 minutes to remove dirt, oil, and makeup buildup.
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When to call a doctor
If your eye has a thick, greenish, or purulent discharge, you should see a doctor. (The cause can be bacterial conjunctivitis).
You also have to see an eye doctor if you have eye pain, if your eyes are sensitive to light, decreased vision, or increased swelling in your eyelids.
Tears are a complex and unique part of our human experience. They serve as an emotional response to difficult situations, can be used to communicate empathy for others, and may even have some medicinal properties that we don’t yet fully understand.
DISCLAIMER: buildyourbody.org does not provide medical advice, examination, or diagnosis.
Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M D.