You didn’t see this one coming, but one thing led to another and somehow you ended up with semen in your eye. Beyond the irritation, you might understandably be worried about STIs and other complications.
Don’t stress just yet. Here’s what to do.
Resist the urge to rub!
This is an itchy, sticky situation, and your first instinct will likely be to rub your eye. Don’t 👏 do 👏 it! It’s going to be tough, but resist the urge and instead, head straight to the sink.
Touching or rubbing your eye could spread the fluid to other areas or push the semen deeper into your eye (yikes).
Rinse and repeat
The World Health Organization has some tips for getting bodily fluids out of the eye. Here’s what they recommend:
- Contact lens wearer? Leave them in for now. Your lenses can help protect the eye until you rinse.
- Rinse out your eye with water or a saline solution (like contact solution or eye drops) ASAP.
- Keep your eyes open and splash your eye with water or saline solution over the sink. If someone is with you, ask them to gently pour water or normal saline into your eye area and move eyelids up and down to wash. You can also hop in the shower to flush it out.
- Rinse again with your eyelid pulled shut.
- Contact lens wearers: After a thorough rinse, remove your contacts and rinse again. Clean your contacts as you would normally to disinfect. This will remove any remnants.
FYI: Don’t use soap!
It’s tempting, but it won’t help — and may actually cause more stinging and irritation.
Even after an initial rinse, your eyeballs might still be on fire. If this happens, keep flushing out your eyes with water or eye drops.
Applying a hot or cool compress, like a damp washcloth, can also lend some relief.
If you’re still feelin’ the burn, try an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
And remember: hands off those peepers!
Everything’s a blur
You will likely experience some blurry vision and stinging — this is totally normal (and why you’ll want to keep your hot or cool compress within arm’s reach).
The acids, zinc, chlorine, enzymes, and sugar in semen can all irritate the eyes.
Your eyes might remain red for up to 24 hours. While looking like a vampire’s never ideal, a little inflammation is your body’s natural response to irritation — whether it be dust or cum.
Still not getting any better?
It’s normal for the eyes to remain a little irritated for up to a day or so. But if they start to cause you more pain, get redder, or water continuously, call your doc. You might have an eye infection that requires treatment.
Likewise, if you’re still showing symptoms after 24 hours, talk to a professional.
Most of the time, semen in the eye will only cause temporary discomfort. In rare cases, it may turn into something more serious. Here’s what to know:
Another eye sore: Will you get a stye?
A stye is a type of inflammation that looks like a red bump and often forms on the upper or lower eyelids. It may be painful.
Most of the time, styes onset due to the presence of Staphylococcus bacteria, which usually is spread through skin-to-skin contact.
Itching and rubbing your eye could potentially cause you to be more vulnerable to a staph infection. But, since staph doesn’t transmit through semen, getting an eyeful of cum shouldn’t directly cause a staph infection.
What about pink eye?
It’s possible to get pink eye (aka conjunctivitis) from semen bacteria, including STI bacteria like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis which can cause pink eye.
In the U.S. pink eye affects about 6 million people each year. And common symptoms of the condition, which can be spread virally or through bacteria, include:
- eyelid puffiness
- sensation of “grit” in the eye
- pink or reddish hue
- sensitivity to light
If you have any of these symptoms for longer than 24 hours, talk to your doctor. The issue can usually be remedied with antibiotic eye drops.
The risk is low, but it’s possible to get an STI from semen in your eye. Here’s what to know.
Don’t panic just yet — it’s very unlikely you’ll contract HIV through semen in your eye, according to info from the CDC. Along with oral sex, the risk of contracting it through the eyes is considered “negligible.”
There’s a case of someone getting HIV through the eyes, but it was via HIV-infected blood in the eye. Additionally, the person infected blinked rapidly and didn’t wash out the eye (which would have helped reduce infection risk).
While the data is a little dated due to lack of research, researchers estimate the risk of getting HIV through the eyes is less than substantially smaller.
Still, it’s important to play it safe. If your partner is HIV positive, you can take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to lower your risk. This antiretroviral medication helps fight the virus before it multiplies. You need to take it within 72 hours of potential HIV exposure, so talk to your doctor about a prescription ASAP.
If your partner had an active herpes outbreak at the time of ejaculation, it’s possible (though unlikely!) you’ll contract ocular herpes.
- puffiness and inflammation
- light sensitivity
If your partner has herpes or you experience any of these symptoms for over 24 hours, head to the doctor.
Without treatment, ocular herpes can lead to a serious infection that affects the cornea and your vision.
The CDC doesn’t provide data on chlamydial eye infections, and it’s a rare transmission source. Still, it’s possible.
- ongoing irritation
- pus-like discharge
If you experience these symptoms, talk to a professional. A chlamydial eye infection can be treated with antibiotic eye drops.
It’s very rare for gonorrhea to spread to the eyes, but it has happened. While the exact stats are unknown, it’s important to head to a medical professional right away if you think you might have this STI.
Since gonorrhea of the eyes can cause vision loss, it’s a medical emergency that should be treated right away.
- light sensitivity
- eye pain
- pus-like discharge
Your doc will prescribe you oral or eye drop antibiotics to treat it.
This is another uncommon eye STI, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry — especially since untreated syphilis can cause blindness.
- vision changes
It can be treated with oral or eyedrop antibiotics.
Hepatitis B and C
Hepatitis B and C are typically transmitted through the blood. While unlikely, transmission through semen is possible. Both types can be dangerous if left untreated and hurt your liver function.
- eye ulcers
Your doc can give you oral or injectable antibiotics to help treat it.
Pubic lice chill outside the bod, so it’s not likely they’ll be in semen. But sometimes they can get in eyelashes if you get too close. When it happens, symptoms include:
- gray, white, or tan specks in the lashes
It never hurts to get tested for an STI. Unless your partner was tested very recently, make an appointment if you have any doubts. Since many STIs can be treated with antibiotic or antiviral meds, being proactive is a definite win for your health.
You should get tested about 14 days after the semen got in your eye. If you test earlier, the risk of a false positive or negative is higher. (Note: Always get treatment for HIV ASAP if your partner is positive.)
Play it safe by getting tested for the following:
- hepatitis B and C
The doctor may also examine your eye with a microscope. They might also put drops in your eye to check out your cornea or take a small tissue sample.
If your eyes don’t have any symptoms, the provider will likely take a saliva, blood, or tissue sample as usual.
- If you get cum in your eye, flush with water or saline solution until the irritation subsides. Avoid touching or itching your eyes.
- Don’t fret — the vast majority of the time, the burn’s the worst part of getting semen in your eye.
- Still, since you technically can get an STI or develop pink eye, it’s important to talk to your doctor if pain or symptoms persist.
- When in doubt, get tested for STIs.