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Why Do My Tears Burn My Eyes?

Have you ever experienced a burning sensation after crying? An intense, almost unbearable itch that feels like it’s radiating through your eyes? It’s a horrible feeling, and one I experience myself, but why do my tears burn my eyes?

I’m going to share the reasons your eyes sting or burn, and what we can do to minimize this burning sensation. So, keep on reading to find out more…

Why Do My Tears Burn My Eyes?

What Happens To The Eyes When We Cry?

Tear production occurs in the lacrimal glands located above your eyes. These glands produce three different types of tears: basal, reflex, and emotional tears.

Basal tears are always present to nourish and protect your corneas. When your eyes produce reflex tears, the reflex tears wash away harmful substances that may have entered your eyes while emotional tears are tied to feelings such as happiness or sadness.

When you feel strong emotions, your nervous system triggers these oil glands to produce more than the usual amount of water-based moisture – this creates what we know as emotional tears.

Unlike basal or reflex tears which primarily consist of water, emotional tears contain hormones thought to assist in easing stress levels.

The severe burning sensation you often experience when shedding emotionally charged droplets isn’t a figment of your imagination but rather a physiological response linked with specific contents found within these unique teardrops such as proteins and oils that maintain eye lubrication.

However, if produced in excess during an intense crying episode, they can irritate the sensitive skin around your eyes, resulting in that fiery sting.

What Are Tears Made Of?

You might find it surprising, but your tears are a mixture of water, oils, mucus, antibodies and proteins that help to protect and moisturize your eyes. This concoction is called the tear film.

Shedding tears, they originate from the lacrimal glands situated above each of your eyes. When you blink, it spreads this protective layer across the surface of your eye.

Tears also serve as a defense mechanism against infection by helping to remove dust and debris.

Here’s an interesting breakdown of some key components found in tears:

Component Function Quantity
Water Hydrates and cleanses the eye ~98%
Mucus Helps spread tears evenly across the eye Small amount
Oils (lipids) Prevents evaporation, keeping the eye moist longer Varies
Antibodies & Proteins Provides immune defense against pathogens Trace amounts

What Factors Can Cause Burning Eyes?

What Factors Can Cause Burning Eyes?

You may be wondering why your eyes sometimes feel like they’re on fire. This uncomfortable sensation can be caused by several factors, including eye allergies, eye irritation from dust or smoke, environmental irritants such as pollution, an eye condition known as blepharitis, or other eye health issues.

Even dry eyes can contribute to this painful symptom. Understanding these causes is a crucial step in managing it and ensuring the overall health of your eyes.


Experiencing a sudden flare-up of allergies can turn those precious droplets of emotion into stinging reminders of your sensitivity, causing unbearable discomfort. Allergy symptoms such as itchiness and redness are often followed by burning tears.

This happens because allergens irritate your eyes, triggering an overreaction from your immune system that results in inflammation. Here’s what you might experience:

  • The allergy triggers a release of histamine in your body.
  • Then, this causes swelling and itching around your eyes, and a stuffy nose.
  • Finally, when you cry, these antihistamines mix with your tears, causing them to sting or burn, and give you pink eyes.

To minimize pain and manage this reaction better, consider taking over-the-counter antihistamines or using prescribed eye drops. 

Eye Irritation

When your eyes are dry, they produce more tears to compensate. However, these aren’t the typical lubricating tears but rather stress-induced ones that can cause a burning sensation.

Secondly, particles of dust or makeup could irritate your eye surface, causing inflammation and discomfort.

To minimize the pain associated with irritated eyes and burning tears, use artificial tear drops to maintain moisture balance. 

Environmental Irritants

Pollutants and allergens lurk in every corner, ready to cause discomfort and irritation. These environmental irritants can trigger an unwelcome burning sensation in your eyes.

Smoke, dust particles, strong winds, or chemical fumes are just a few examples of these external factors.

When these irritants come into contact with your eyes, they can upset the natural balance of your tear film. This protective layer is supposed to keep your eyes moist and comfortable, but it can only do so much.

To help minimize pain from these irritants, make sure you regularly wash away any potential threats using clean water or specially formulated eye drops if necessary. 

Blepharitis Or Other Eye Health Conditions

You might not realize it, but suffering from conditions like Blepharitis can also cause a burning sensation in your eyes. This eye health condition causes inflammation of the eyelid, leading to irritation and discomfort when you cry.

Blepharitis isn’t the only culprit, though. Other underlying eye conditions could be at play too. Issues such as dry eye syndrome or ocular rosacea can similarly create a burning feeling.

If your tears are consistently causing you pain, it’s crucial that you don’t ignore this symptom. It may be an indicator of a more serious problem with your eye health. 

Dry Eyes

Having dry eyes can certainly add to your discomfort, often giving you a stinging or scratchy sensation.

This condition, known as dry eye syndrome, results from inadequate tear production or poor quality tears that fail to lubricate the eye properly. It’s no surprise that when you cry with dry eyes, the salt in your tears could intensify this burning feeling.

Artificial tears are one solution you may consider. They’re designed to mimic real tears and can help lubricate your eyes, alleviating the burn you feel when crying.  

Contact Lenses

Moving on from dry eyes, another common culprit that may cause your tears to sting or burn your eyes is improper use or care of contact lenses.

Eyewear plays a crucial role in maintaining eye health, and it’s critical to handle your contacts responsibly. Contact lenses can often be a source of irritation if they’re not cleaned correctly or worn for extended periods.

Tiny deposits of dirt or makeup can stick onto them, causing discomfort when you blink. Moreover, an ill-fitted lens could scratch your cornea, leading to painful tear production.

Why Do My Tears Burn My Eyes?

Why Do My Tears Burn My Eyes?

Tears are designed to keep your eyes lubricated and protected from foreign objects like dust, dirt, and bacteria.

They’re a complex blend of water for moisture, oils for lubrication, mucus for even distribution across the surface of the eye, and antibodies that fight infection.

When something is off with this balance – such as when your body produces too many tears due to allergies or irritation or if they lack certain elements – they may cause a burning sensation.

A common reason why your tears burn could stem from dry eye syndrome. This occurs when you don’t produce enough quality tears to sufficiently moisturize and protect the eyes’ surface.

The result? A stinging or burning sensation that makes you feel like something is stuck in your eye.

Another possible culprit might be blepharitis – inflammation of the eyelid margins often caused by bacterial infections or skin conditions which disrupts tear production causing them to burn.

To minimize the pain caused by burning tears, try using over-the-counter artificial tear drops that mimic real tears’ composition.

These can provide temporary relief by replenishing what’s missing in your natural tear film. Taking breaks from screen time and ensuring good eyelid hygiene are also helpful measures against dryness and inflammation.

Why Does My Tears Burn My Face When I Cry?

Tears are composed of water, salts, proteins, and oils. They serve as lubricants for our eyes and act as a protective barrier against foreign particles and microbes.

However, when you cry excessively—especially during periods of strong emotion—the higher volume and salt concentration can overwhelm the delicate skin on your face.

1. Tears contain sodium, an ingredient that can be drying or irritating when left on sensitive facial skin for too long.

2. Emotional crying tends to be more intense and produces more tears than regular eye watering – which simply means there’s more salty moisture coming into contact with your skin.

3. If your tears run down your cheeks over pre-existing minor cuts or abrasions—or even just dry areas—the salt can cause a burning sensation.

4. Rubbing away your tears can irritate your already-delicate skin further, causing it to sting or burn even more.

Why Do My Tears Burn Like Acid?

Having learned why your tears burn your face, you might now be wondering, “Why do my tears burn like acid?”

This sensation can be quite distressing and uncomfortable, but understanding the causes could help minimize the pain.

Your tears may burn like acid due to several factors. The main culprits are often environmental irritants, allergies, dry eyes syndrome, or even infections. Let’s delve into these in a bit more detail:

Cause Symptoms Treatment
Environmental Irritants (e.g., smoke, wind) Redness, itching Limit exposure, use eye drops
Allergies (e.g., pollen) Itching, swelling around the eyes Antihistamines
Dry Eyes Syndrome Stinging or burning sensation Artificial tear drops
Infections (e.g., conjunctivitis) Discharge from eyes; Painful red eyes with a burning sensation. Antibiotics

If your tears burn severely enough to feel acidic on your skin and result in persistent discomfort or pain, it is advisable to see an eye doctor. They’ll conduct an examination to determine the root cause of this issue.

Remember that maintaining good overall health also plays a significant role in ensuring healthy tear production and minimizing discomfort.

Drinking plenty of water keeps you hydrated while avoiding triggers such as allergens helps prevent allergic reactions that often lead to this ‘acidic’ burning sensation.

To minimize the pain caused by burning tears effectively: cleanse your eyelids regularly using warm water and cotton pads; avoid rubbing your eyes as this could further irritate them; use lubricating eye drops as recommended by ophthalmologists in your treatment plan; and don’t forget those sunglasses when stepping out on sunny days.

How To Soothe The Sting From Tears

Importance Of Eye Hygiene

Maintaining good eye hygiene is essential to avoid issues like burning eyes and other discomforts. The importance of eye hygiene can’t be overstated as your eyes are a critical organ that needs special attention.

Eye hygiene involves keeping your eyes clean and free from irritants such as dust or allergens, which can cause inflammation or infection leading to burning or stinging sensations.

It also includes using clean makeup tools if you wear cosmetics around the eye area.

Also, avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands as this can transfer bacteria, causing infections.

If you’re experiencing burning eyes, it might be due to dryness. Ensuring proper hydration for your eyes through artificial tears or humidifiers can play an integral role in maintaining their health and comfort.

Regular check-ups with an optometrist ensure early detection of any potential issues that could negatively affect eye health.

This proactive approach is part of a comprehensive eye care routine and contributes significantly to overall optical health.

Keep in mind that protecting your sight goes beyond wearing glasses or contact lenses; it involves daily practices aimed at preserving and enhancing the natural function of your eyes.

How To Soothe The Sting From Tears

The ‘burn’ feeling is primarily due to the salt content in tears, which can irritate your eyes, especially if they’re dry or sensitive.

There are several methods you can try. Firstly, consider using artificial tears or eye drops. These products mimic natural tears and provide much-needed moisture for your irritated eyes.

Another option is using a warm compress on your closed eyes. Take a clean cloth, soak it in warm water, wring out any excess liquid, and place it over your eyes for about 10 minutes.

This method helps increase blood circulation around your eyes and reduces inflammation caused by salty tears. You can also try an ointment, to relieve the sting of the skin.

You may also want to hydrate yourself more adequately. Drinking plenty of water not only benefits overall health but also keeps your body hydrated enough to produce fewer salty tears – reducing the burn sensation after crying.

Avoid rubbing your eyes too often as doing so might worsen the irritation and lead to other issues such as corneal abrasion or infection.

Regularly cleaning eyelids with a mild soap solution and refraining from touching them with dirty hands will go a long way in keeping them healthy.

Are There Any Specific Medical Conditions Associated with Burning Tears?

Certain medical conditions can cause your tears to burn. Dry eye syndrome, where your eyes don’t produce enough tears, can lead to burning and irritation.

Conjunctivitis or ‘pink eye’ inflammation could also result in a similar sensation. Blepharitis, an eyelid condition, may cause this as well. 

Are There Any Specific Medical Conditions Associated with Burning Tears?

Can Diet or Lifestyle Changes Reduce the Burning Sensation of Tears?

Diet and lifestyle changes can reduce the burning sensation in the eyes. Consuming a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or flaxseeds, can improve tear production.

Staying hydrated also helps maintain healthy tear composition, and reduce stinging eyes.

Plus, limiting screen time and practicing good eye hygiene by avoiding touching your eyes with dirty hands may minimize irritation that can exacerbate the burning sensation. 

Are There Any Home Remedies to Alleviate the Pain Caused by Burning Tears?

There are several home remedies you can use to soothe your burning eyes. If you fancy trying home remedies as a treatment for burning eyes, here are some suggestions to try:

  1. Try applying a warm compress over closed eyes for relief.
  2. Hydrating well and increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids may also help reduce dryness and inflammation.
  3. Over-the-counter artificial tears can provide immediate comfort too.

However, if the problem persists, it’s best to consult an ophthalmologist or eye specialist, for professional advice as it could be a symptom of an underlying eye condition.



Burning tears can be uncomfortable and a sign of an underlying problem. Understanding why your eyes burn when you cry is the first step to managing this symptom.

Environmental factors, allergies, dry eyes syndrome, blepharitis, or other eye health conditions are common causes for this problem.

To minimize pain and manage discomfort more effectively, use over-the-counter antihistamines or prescribed eye drops; artificial tear drops that imitate natural tears; take breaks from screen time; and practice good hygiene by regularly washing away potential threats with clean water.

You may also want to see your optometrist if the burning persists as it could indicate a severe issue with your vision. Remember that healthy eyes start with good habits like using protective eyewear outdoors and drinking enough water.

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