Cures for When Your Eyes Burn in a Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool Experts Salt Lake Utah

Have you ever spent a day in the pool only to come home with red, itchy eyes that burn? It is not that uncommon. In fact, most people believe that if their eyes are burning while swimming in a pool, it is due to the chlorine in the pool. Red, irritated eyes usually go hand in hand with dry, itchy skin. But don’t blame chlorine for these discomforts. Even in pools with concentrations above five parts per million, chlorine does not burn eyes, dry out skin, or damaged hair. Actually, super chlorination is one of the most effective treatments for burning eyes and skin discomfort. So, if chlorine is not the culprit, what is? Let’s look at the three main factors behind eye burn.


pH Imbalances

The primary cause of burning eyes is an improper pH balance in your swimming pool. If your pH is lower than 7.4, you must raise the levels for comfort. If your pH is higher than 7.8, than you need to lower it. An ideal pH prevents algae growth and sits at a steady 7.8. The reason why pH is usually the culprit is that the human body has such a narrow comfort range for pH. That range is 7.4 to 7.8. Anything higher or lower will cause burning, red eyes, and itchy skin.

If you keep your pH at the same level as that in your eyes, the side-effects of burning red eyes are kept to a minimum. The ability of chlorine to disinfect at this level is also optimum.



If you notice a particular aroma in your pool along with having red, burning eyes, chances are you have chloramines. Sometimes, the chlorine you add into your pool can bond with ammonia and nitrogen in the water to form chloramines, which is also called Combined Chlorine. By combining with ammonia and nitrogen, a chloramine loses most of its sanitizing power and can irritate the skin and eyes of swimmers. Chloramines are 60 to 80 times less effective than an uncombined free chlorine molecule, and they also give off a strong chlorine odor.

You can test your pool for chloramines by running a simple DPD test kit that checks for all both Free and Total chlorine levels.



According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the chemical that causes eye irritation while swimming is the urine. When the chlorine in your pool binds with urine, it can cause chemicals that are bad for swimmer health. But peeing in the pool is not uncommon in one survey, one in five respondents admitted to “peeing in the pool.”

If you have ever done the deed in the pool, you should definitely think twice before you let it go. The truth is that peeing in the pool is bad for swimmer health because chlorine reacts with urine and other chemicals in your pool to form a chemical irritant that causes red, burning, and itchy eyes.


The Solution

At the end of the day, the problem behind your pool water all comes down to the water chemistry. Here are some solutions that should help with all chemical irritants.

  1. Check pH levels—make sure that they are stable at a 7.8. Adjust accordingly.
  2. Remove all chloramines from the swimming pool. You can do this by adding a high dose of chlorine, adding a non-chlorine shock, adding ozone to the water, or zeolite sand.
  3. Switch to saltwater. Saltwater is a more natural approach and safer on your skin, hair, and eyes. Eye irritation may reduce when using saltwater as the main component in your pool rather than chlorine.
  4. Don’t pee in the swimming pool. Also, make sure that you take children on frequent bathroom breaks and frequently express to them that they should not use the pool as a restroom.
  5. Check swim diapers of young children regularly and change diapers in the bathroom and not poolside.
  6. Shower before swimming in the pool and help young children shower. Unshowered swimmers and hot tub users unwittingly contribute small amounts of dirt, body oils, makeup, sweat and feces to the water, which add up in a crowded pool or spa.
  7. Wear goggles. If you are one of the many who have felt your eyes burning after swimming, it might be time that you invest in a good pair of UV protective goggles to avoid all chemical irritants.


If you need further assistance with your swimming pool, contact the experts at Intermountain Aquatech. We are here to help you balance your pool chemicals and answer all of your pool-related questions.

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