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Why do my tears burn my face?

by Claire

Tears are the body’s way of responding to an emotional stimulus. Emotions, like sadness and happiness, make us feel things deeply. When we experience something that makes us sad or happy, tears appear as a natural response.

A question that most people wish to seek an answer to is-

Why do my tears burn my face?

While it might seem strange that they should burn down the face when they come out of your eye sockets, this is actually because tears contain both salt water from our eyes and oil which comes from glands in our eyelids. The salty water evaporates quickly once it enters the air and leaves behind the oil which has a lower boiling point than water so it remains on our skin for longer periods of time causing a burning sensation in some people. It is also because of the chemical irritant- lysozyme present in the tears that create a burning sensation.

 

Properties of tears that cause a burning sensation

Salt water is evaporated by the air leaving behind oil that has a lower boiling point.
Oil from glands in eyelids remains on the face longer than salt water does, causing a burning sensation.

The eye can also burn down your nose, especially when you are feeling really sad or angry and have been crying for some time which causes increased production of tears.

Tears can also burn down the face because they have high levels of salt content which makes them more acidic than other bodily fluids.

This is why we sometimes see people crying with red cheeks – the chemicals in their tear ducts are so strong that it starts to affect their skin colour too!

The fact that some people find this a sensation that burns is possibly due to some people having a lower tolerance for salt.
We all know that tears are salty, but new research has found that they also contain a chemical irritant.

This is the reason why your eyes feel like they’re on fire when you cry. But what causes this burning sensation?

The tears that we produce contain a chemical irritant. When this is exposed to moisture in the air, it starts to break down and causes your eyes’ surface cells to become inflamed.

The result is feelings of burning or stinging sensations in our eyes, making them water excessively — which might be why people say things like “my eyes are burning”.

This chemical irritant is called lysozyme. It’s an enzyme that we produce to fight off bacteria and other microorganisms so our eyes stay healthy.

The irritation happens when tears come into contact with the air, where it starts to break down rapidly in order for your eyes to maintain a healthy balance of moisture levels on their surface.

You might not notice the burning sensation until you cry, but your eyes will start to feel better when they’re-wet themselves with tears again.

This is because lysozyme doesn’t break down as quickly in water and therefore won’t cause the same irritation it did before.

Your eyes are also less likely to become dry later on because the water has already broken down lysozyme.

This chemical irritant is key to keeping your eyes healthy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable when you cry and don’t have a tissue handy!

While tears are salty due to their levels of sodium chloride, they also contain this irritating chemical as well.

 

The composition of tears

Tears are composed of a watery solution with dissolved salt, urea and other substances.

The composition varies depending on what we eat or drink as well as the time of day.

There is also an oil that comes from glands in our eyelids which helps to lubricate the eye and maintain its moisture.

 

How do we produce tears?

Crying is one of the body’s natural responses to an emotional stimulus.

When you experience something that makes you sad or happy, your brain sends a signal through nerves in the tear ducts which causes salty water and oil from our eyes to be mixed together.

When these liquids mix they create tears.The quantity of tear production will vary depending on the type and intensity of emotion you are experiencing.

 

Why do people feel pain from crying?

There is a nerve in your eye that sends signals to the brain when it touches salt water, causing pain. This is because our eyes have more nerves than any other part of the body.

The salt water from your eyes also causes a burning sensation on the skin around where tears have fallen because it is leaving behind oil that has a lower boiling point than water and remains in contact with your skin for longer periods of time.

The act of crying and producing tears

When someone cries, emotional tension builds up and eventually the body releases it in a natural way. It feels really good to let out our emotions, even if that means crying or screaming.

Crying is usually a response to happy events as well as sad ones and it can help you feel relieved after experiencing something difficult.

How does crying and producing tears affect your health?

The act of crying can produce a feeling of relief and release for the individual.

When someone cries, hormonal changes occur that help to reduce stress hormones in your body like cortisol which is what causes chronic illnesses such as heart disease.

“Uplifting” tearful moments may be associated with lower risks for cardiovascular diseases, and those who have a strong sense of social cohesion may be less likely to experience stress-related cardiac events.

Crying can also help improve your immune system by reducing the number of colds you get if it is done at regular intervals, as well as making people feel more connected with their friends or family members.

“Crying” can release endorphins which improve mood and make you feel better.

Crying helps to keep your airways clear by removing the mucus that builds up in those areas when we are sick or have allergies.

“Sobbing”, heavy crying, can cause a person’s lungs to shrink making it more difficult for them to breathe and causing the mucus in their lungs to build up.

Crying can also be a sign of physical or emotional distress that needs attention so it is important not to ignore this if you are experiencing these symptoms often.

It’s common for people who have had traumatic experiences, such as rape or abuse, to cry with burning tears.

 

Video – Why does eye burn?

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