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OUCH! That Stuff Got in My Eye! Suntan Lotion and Insect Repellant in the Eyes

The Bottom Line

Sunscreen and insect repellant can find their way into the eyes, causing pain and irritation. Immediate rinsing with running water is the best first aid.

The Full Story

You slather on the sunscreen. Ditto the insect repellent. But, did you ever splash them into your eyes? Here's how to treat those eyes right away:

  1. The most important thing to do is run plenty of water across your eye(s). DON'T WAIT! Get into the shower, trickle water from a hose, pour water from a faucet - the fastest way is the best way. Continue for 15-20 minutes; blink your eyes while the water is running. 
  2. After 15-20 minutes of running water, your eye will probably feel a bit irritated and look red. Rest quietly for 15-30 minutes; give your eye a chance to recover from the running water.
  3. Next, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or use the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool to find out if you can continue treating this at home or if you have to see the doctor.

Remember: if something gets into your eye that doesn't belong there, rinsing it out with running water IMMEDIATELY is the most important thing you can do. Follow these detailed irrigation instructions.

If someone swallows or gets a taste of sunscreen, use the webPOISONCONTROL online tool for guidance, or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

Rose Ann Gould Soloway, RN, BSN, MSEd, DABAT emerita
Clinical Toxicologist


Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

Rinsing with plenty of running water can help prevent problems if products are splashed into the eyes.

This Really Happened

Case 1: The grandmother of a 3-year-old girl reported that the child's older brother sprayed her in the eyes with an insect repellant. The little girl complained that her eyes hurt, and they looked irritated. Poison Control told the child's grandmother how to thoroughly irrigate the eyes. However, the 3-year-old wouldn't allow her grandmother or parents to rinse her eyes so they took her to the nearest emergency room. The emergency room physician called Poison Control for product information and treatment advice. In the emergency room the child's eyes were flushed with normal saline. The physician then examined her eyes and there was no injury. In a follow-up call from Poison Control the next day, the little girl's grandmother said she was doing fine.

Case 2: A 4-year-old boy put sunscreen with insect repellent on his face and got some in his eyes. His mom said his eyes looked red. Poison Control told his mom how to irrigate his eyes well in the shower. She reported that after his eyes were flushed as advised, he was fine.

Case 3: A 2-year-old boy rubbed his hands over his skin where his mom had applied sunblock, then touched his eye. He told his mom that his eye hurt. Poison Control told her the eye irrigation procedure. After she followed these instructions, the child was back to normal.