Pink itchy eyes have you worrying? Well, you’re not alone. Bacteria, viruses, allergens, and irritants are the 4 main agents that cause pink eye. When it comes to allergens and irritants, knowing where you were or what you touched can give you pretty good clues. As for the viral and bacterial causes, it’s always contagious and spreads from child to parent or vice versa.
Bright Side gathered 8 home remedies for conjunctivitis that will save you money and time. If you’re concerned about your health or the state of your eyes, however, it’s very important to seek medical advice in the first place. Always play it safe.
Herbal tea poultices
Green and herbal teas are replete with bioflavonoids (the phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables) that can help improve heart health and more. You can make use of them to help you combat bacterial and viral infections and also reduce inflammation.
Calendula, chamomile and fennel teas are all great options for warm compresses. Soak a couple of tea bags in warm water. Wring tea bags out and apply them to your closed eyes. A 10-minute compress would be enough for the tannins in the tea bags to help reduce the swelling. You can also use the tea solution as an eyewash.
Do not use herbal tea poultices during pregnancy or if you’re allergic to ragweed.
A saltwater solution
Many drugstores offer different kinds of saline water drops but there’s an easy way you can make the solution at home. Here’s what you have to do: boil a cup of distilled water with 1/2 tbsp of salt and let the liquid cool completely before using. Get a clean dropper. 1-2 drops in each eye should be enough. The salt helps to wash away the debris that has collected in the eye and it has antibacterial agents that kill bacteria.
If you don’t like drops, you can also spray the surface of each eye with a saltwater solution. Make sure to use a clean towel to wipe the remains of water from your eyes and prevent the infection from spreading. You should discard the solution after 2 days and make a new one to avoid bacterial contamination. It’s even better to make a new batch each day.
Since it is densely packed with nutrients, honey’s health benefits are not up for debate. The antibacterial properties of honey can help you quickly battle the infection and its symptoms. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that can be explored in several corneal inflammatory and infectious conditions. To make the solution, you need 1/4 tsp of raw honey and 1/4 cup of distilled water or milk.
Using a clean dropper, squeeze 2 drops of the solution into each eye. You can also use a washcloth to clean the affected tissue. The antibacterial properties in the honey and the soothing effects of the milk will start to work immediately and within 24 hours, your pink eye should be cleared up.
Colloidal silver drops
Colloidal silver drops can be used for prompt action against irritating and highly infectious viruses and bacteria. When applied on the infected tissue, the silver colloids grab the infected cells by attracting them electromagnetically and send them into the bloodstream to be eliminated from your body. This remedy is ideal to clean up whatever underlying infection is causing your pink eye.
However, it is advisable to use colloidal silver under the supervision of a medical practitioner who knows its properties. Do not use it for more than one week.
Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel is great against eye infections. Its components such as amodin and aloin have antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
To treat unpleasant symptoms of the pink eye, apply aloe vera gel on the eyelid and under the eye. Make sure you wash your hands before applying the gel. You can also use gauze pads or disposable eye makeup pads. Cotton wool balls are not ideal because they can unravel, leaving cotton in your eye. But, if only one eye is affected, make sure you don’t use the same cloth on both eyes so that the infection doesn’t spread.
Tulsi, or saint basil, is proven to have a beneficial pharmacological effect on eye health. It can fight against conjunctivitis and boils. It can also protect your eyes from bacteria and free radicals. The leaves also prevent several eye issues including ophthalmia, vision defects, and cataracts.
To use this remedy, all you need to do is:
- Boil some water;
- Soak tulsi leaves in it for 10 minutes;
- Remove the leaves and use the water to wash the eyes.
You can alternatively soak a cloth in the solution and use it as a compress. Wash your eyes daily with a few leaves of tulsi boiled in water and you will be free from annoying pink eye symptoms.
Cold and warm eye compress
Fortunately, the symptoms of pink eye can be relieved at home with the proper use of cold and warm eye compresses. It’s an easy yet effective way to reduce the pain caused by a dry and irritated mucous membrane. To soothe the painful pink eye, you may prefer to use a warm, moist heat compress to help your eye naturally rehydrate and reduce redness and swelling. Make sure you use a new piece of cloth each time to prevent the infection from the development.
Essential oils, such as neem oil, have been found to provide great relief from the symptoms of pink eye. In case of conjunctivitis caused by viruses or an infection, there are also some natural remedies to alleviate itching and redness. Neem oil contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help fight bacteria and soothe inflammation. For a combined antiviral effect, neem oil can be used in combination with tea tree oil.
Apply a drop or 2 of the oil (or a mix of tea tree oil and neem oil) around the infected eye, preferably before going to bed. Make sure you don’t get too close to the eyeball. Slightly massage the area. You can leave it overnight or just for 15-20 minutes before going to bed.
It’s better to buy pure essential oils without any additional chemicals in their contents. It’s important that you do not put the oil directly into your eye as it may cause burning and irritation.
How to prevent the infection from spreading
According to the Centers for Disease Control an Prevention, there’re several preventive measures that can be taken to prevent pink eye from spreading from person to person. Here are several things you can do to stop the infection from spreading:
- Wash your hands before and whenever you touch your eyes;
- Avoid wearing contact lenses for a while;
- Avoid sharing your makeup tools and mascara with anyone if you don’t want to risk getting an infection;
- Wash towels, pillowcases, and clothes that come in contact with your eyes;
- Don’t use common towels to wipe your eyes, make sure you have a separate one;
- If you have to make an eye compress, use different compresses for each eye.
Although there are a lot of home remedies, the main cause of pink eye may be something that a doctor needs to check. If you noticed these symptoms, visit an eye doctor. Only then is it safe to use these home remedies as a complementary treatment after discussing your options with a doctor. Don’t try to treat babies or infants yourself as this infection can result in vision loss or permanent damage.
Do you know any tried and tested remedies that can help hasten the healing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Illustrated by Elena Sorokina