Soap in your eyes- A cause for concern? | Eye Health

Soap in your eyes- A cause for concern?

You might be wary about protecting your eyes from external irritants such as soap and shampoo. Yet, sometimes these substances could inadvertently enter your eyes, causing discomfort and pain. You might even fear you have done long-lasting harm to your eyes. In this article, we discuss if having soap in your eyes is a cause for concern.

What happens when you get soap in your eyes?

Indeed, the presence of soap in the eyes can make you feel extremely uncomfortable as soap tampers with the pH of your eyes (indicator of the acidity of an environment or surface). Your eyes typically have a pH around 7, which is neutral. Acidic substances have a pH under 7 whereas alkaline substances have a pH over 7. A great variety of soaps contain a pH range of 9-10 as they are mostly alkaline. Your eyes have a low tolerance for alkaline substances. Thus, when soap gets into them, the pH difference results in a burning sensation.

soap in your eyes

Many soaps are alkaline and contain pH values above 7.

Bear in mind that the front surface of your eyes is very reactive to stimuli. Any contact with external substances, scratches or bumps can cause a great deal of pain. If left untreated, this presence of soap could damage the conjunctiva (mucous membranes in your eyes) leading to eye infection and swelling such as conjunctivitis.

Eye irritation and discomfort as a result of the presence of alkaline soap in them leads to a reflex production of tears to get rid of the soap. However, you should not just rely on your tears to get rid of the soap and relieve the discomfort. Rather, quickly use clean pure water with a pH value of 7 to flush your eyes. If possible avoid using tap water to flush your eyes as it might contain contaminants from the surroundings. A better method would be to use an over-the-counter eyewash. Cleansing your eyes as soon as you can to get rid of the soap would allow a quicker recovery.

What should you do if I get soap in my eye?

Avoid rubbing your eyes once they have been exposed to soap. This is because rubbing spreads the soap around the surfaces of your eyes, worsening your discomfort and pain. Should soap get into contact with your cornea (the transparent layer of your eye that enables light to enter the inside), an abrasion could occur.

avoid rubbing your eyes

Avoid rubbing your eyes when soap is in them.

Here are some tips on what to do when soap gets into our eyes

Use running water to cleanse your hands, then your eyes from soap residue.

  1. Cleanse your hands with soap and water.
  2. Remove contact lenses if you are wearing them.
  3. Use clean water to flush soap out your eye, or if possible, use over-the-counter eye drops to do so until you stop feeling a burning sensation.
  4. Be patient as the burning sensation might take several minutes or even hours to subside.
  5. Use eye drops or artificial lubricants to mitigate any lingering sensations after you have cleansed your eyes thoroughly.

If your eyes still feel irritated, consult your doctor to examine for possible abrasions. At your doctor’s clinic, your doctor may cleanse your eyes and examine their pH value for the presence of soap residue.

References

American Academy of Ophthalmology. 2022. Should I Worry About Getting Soap in My Eyes?. [online] Available at: <https://www.aao.org/eye-health/ask-ophthalmologist-q/soap-in-eyes> [Accessed 26 January 2022].

Americasbest.com. 2022. Is Soap Hurting My Eyes?. [online] Available at: <https://www.americasbest.com/patient-education/vision-problems/soap-hurting-eyes> [Accessed 26 January 2022].

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