Last Friday, I spent the late afternoon washing Orlando’s eye out with water. It was quite traumatic for both of us — I had to hold him down and hold his eye open AND pour water on his eye, which ended up going all over his face.


So I thought I would share what I learned, should your child spray perfume (it is the ethyl alcohol that is the irritant) in her or his eye.

Please note…. I am not a doctor or health care provider. Please seek medical advice from your physician.

Here is what I did

  • I kept my child from rubbing his eye.
  • I (tried to) rinse the eye for *five minutes* with warm (body-temp) water, so the water flowed from the bridge of the nose to the outer eye.

The poison control guy told me that the ethyl alcohol in perfume is an irritant that needs to be rinsed out. The alcohol causes the eye to become red, but the main concern is that it would cause a “hazing” affect on the cornea and/or a corneal scratch.

If, after the rinsing, and resting for an hour or so, my child complained of a scratchy feeling in his eye or of affected vision, the poison control person told me to take him to the doctor or hospital for evaluation. If he did have a corneal scratch, it could be healed with the proper care.

So, actual severe or reversible damage seemed unlikely, but the poison control guy was insistent that my son’s eye be washed (I even called back to say it wasn’t going well and I wasn’t getting much water in his eye). I swear, those people don’t have kids!

Here is what I learned for next time

First – have the Poison Control Number handy, and give them a donation if you can!


I called them right away and they told me what to do.

Second – have some sort of thing that makes it easy to get the water *in the eye* rather than all over your child’s face. They make “eye-cups” but I am not sure how this would work if your child wouldn’t willingly open his or her eye. The other idea I had is one of those measuring cups with a spout (which we don’t currently own). I also thought of using a funnel, but you would definitely need two people.

Another option is an eye-wash bottle which you can buy online or maybe at the pharmacy.

Third — have someone you can call to help you who can come RIGHT AWAY. Rom wasn’t home yet and I didn’t know when he would arrive (though I knew he was likely on his way). I ended up calling a neighbor to help me, since Orlando was in an utter panic and I was freaking that he would get permanent eye damage, and Mica was starting to cry (after lying on the bathroom floor and getting wet from the water I was pouring on Orlando…). Our neighbor Iona came over and held Mica, and changed his clothes (and tried to bribe Orlando with oranges if he “let” me clean his eye). I could have used another person, since the water-pouring itself seemed like a two-person job. I needed to have a lot of water nearby, or a person to hand me water container after water container, or something, since the hardest part was getting Orlando to lie down. Once I started pouring the water, he was better, but I only had a two-cup thing and only about 1/8 of the water ended up in his eye and then it would be gone and he would be up running away saying “I DON’T WANT TO DO IT AGAIN! I DON’T WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!!”

Fourth — maybe avoid the whole thing by not having perfume? LOL! I don’t even wear perfume and haven’t for years, but I have a really old thing of honeysuckle fragrance that Orlando got out of the cabinet in the bathroom. Orlando has never gotten into the cabinets before, but has lately been wanting to climb up onto the changing pad we have for Mica on the bathroom counter. Voila! He discovered that there were things behind those mirrors.

Orlando and I did a lot of talking and connecting afterward, and I also “sleep-talked” to him after he fell asleep, apologizing for taking away his autonomy, telling him that I love him and want him to be healthy and whole, reminding him that water is healing and he can learn not to fear it (this is a kid who won’t get his head wet in the bathtub and here I am holding him down and pouring water on his face)….

Anyway, his eye seems fine. We did some reading, finding certain things on the page, etc. to make sure he could see normally, and watched for the next 24 hours to make sure his eye wasn’t irritating him.

Here’s looking at you, kid!

12 responses to “Eyes”

  1. oh my kid!

    thanks so much…my son just had sprayed perfume on his eyes… i googled to see what should be done (all eye clinics are closed at this hour in Malaysia) saw your page too and want to say it was very helpful, thank you. I’m having the same problem unable to wash his eyes for five muinutes trying though but he slept… my husband is now trying to wak ehim and wash but he says he is sleepy and sleeping off… praying he should be fine…

  2. Stacy

    I am glad this was helpful. I hope your son is completely well by now.


  3. ally

    My 3 yr old sprayed perfume in his eye– I turned to the computer and your post came up. Thanks for the suggestions, they worked great! I layed my son on the kitchen counter with his head laying right next to the sink. I rolled up some kitchen towels for under his neck and had him slide down so his neck was right over the sink’s edge. I used the gravy separator measuring cup (has a spout) and slowly poured WARM water over his eye. Warm worked much better than cold and because it wasn’t going all over his face he wasn’t panicking. When I called my pediatrician he told me to use a mild salt/water solution to rinse out all of the alcohol- I didn’t get to that point. But helpful to know for future cases! Thanks!!

  4. Sunday's child

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write up this treatment. My 12 year old didn't notice the spray was pointing at her face and just did the same thing.. scary red eye and pain/blurred vision now fading away

  5. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this post. my 15 month just got some perfume in hid eyes, then i check online what to do then i saw this, it help alot.

    Claudia :)

  6. Anonymous

    I am 11 and i was going to spray the perfume in the air to smell it but it was facing my face and now my eye hurts!

  7. Delta

    Thank you so much for your post…it was very helpful with my own 3 ye old daughter.

  8. Anonymous

    Great post and very helpful in the time of panic. Thank you and God bless you.

  9. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for your post. It really comforted us to know this is not a permanent situation for our three year old. She was really in pain, and it made me feel better seeing that the warm water worked better than the cold.
    Thanks again


    Thank you for posting your story. I have called poison control center and following their instructions. My son sprayed countertop cleaner in his eyes. I am very worried at the moment.
    You saved us as I began to panic. Thank you again and again. I googled you.



    Link to my article that talked about similar experience.
    Stacy, I will email you soon. I got your message and keep looking for a moment to spare. I have few questions. Thank you.

  12. Renae

    so my best friend just poured half a bottle of after shave in my eye because i poured juice on him but anyways my eye is all swolen and i am only 12 i feel like i am going blind i cant see properly my eye is red and it really burns so i looked for what to do and this came up and hopefully it works

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