Pink eye, medically known as conjunctivitis, is an eye condition which is characterized by the inflammation of the outer layer of the eye (the conjunctiva) and the interior of the eyelid.
Common symptoms of conjunctivitis include; swelling of the eye, itching of the eye, burning sensation of the eye, sensitivity to light, gritty sensation in the eye, crust around the eyelid that forms overnight, eye pain, blurred vision, redness of the eye, and discharge from the eye.
Causes of pink eye or conjunctivitis include; allergies, bacterial or viral infection, substances that irritate the eye (such as smoke, contact lenses, and chemicals),
Pink eye caused by bacterial or viral infection tend to be very contagious.
Allergic conjunctivitis, i.e conjunctivitis due to allergies, could be trigger by allergens such as dust mite, air pollution, pollens, eye drops, and makeup. This type of conjunctivitis is common amongst people with seasonal allergies and other allergic diseases.
Here are some tips and good practices, to consider, when dealing with pink eyes (conjunctivitis);
- Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke as they could irritate your eyes.
- Avoid direct wind.
- You could use a humidifier, especially during winter.
- Clean your eyelashes often. You could use warm and cold compresses.
- Endeavor to wash your hands often especially after returning from a public event.
- Endeavor to utilize hand sanitizers.
- Adhere to your contact lens care and replacement procedures.
- Ensure you utilize contact lens solutions properly. You could even opt for disposable contact lenses.
- Avoid sharing your personal wares, such as washcloth and hand towels, with other people.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
- Endeavor to protect your eyes from irritants such as smoke and chemicals.
Below are various natural remedies and treatments for treating pink eyes (conjunctivitis);
1. Human Breast Milk
Breast milk contains special antibodies (immunoglobulin) that prevent bacteria from attacking the eye. It also has well-documented anti-inflammatory properties that help to fight pathogens. For quick relief, pour two to three drops of breast milk on the affected eye using a dropper.
2. Boric Acid
Boric acid has mild antifungal and antibacterial properties. It can be used to treat many eye problems like burning sensation, tearing, redness, dryness, among others. To use the acid, you should prepare some eyewash. Boil the white powder in a cup of water and then apply to the affected eye using a cotton ball. Use this treatment up to two times a day.
3. Black Tea
Black tea contains bioflavonoids which help to relieve pink eye symptoms. Moreover, black tea is rich in caffeine which inhibits the growth of bacteria and reduces inflammation. To treat conjunctivitis with black tea, soak an ordinary tea bag in water for five minutes, then, place the moist tea bag on the affected eye. You may also want to use the black tea liquid as an eyewash. Follow this remedy every four hours.
4. Cold Or Warm Compress
A cold compress helps to fight allergic conjunctivitis while a warm compress helps to soothe the eyes. Furthermore, the two methods are effective in relieving pain and reducing the swelling on the affected eye. For this remedy, soak your bathing cloth in water and then place it on the eyelid. Repeat every three to four hours until you get some relief. It’s crucial that you do not use the same cloth for both eyes especially if it is only an eye that is infected.
5. Saline Solution (Salt Water Wash)
Salt water works as a disinfectant. To alleviate the pink eye symptoms, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in boiled water and let it cool. Then, pour a few drops on the eyes using a dropper. While you can buy the saline solution, it’s advisable that you create your mixture at home. Since tap water may contain some impurities and chemicals, make sure you use distilled water. Discard the solution after 2-3 days to avoid bacterial contamination.
Calendula has antibacterial and antiviral properties that help to fight pink eye infection. It alleviates symptoms like redness and relieves the irritation. For this remedy, put a handful of flowers in hot water and allow it to steep for 15 minutes. Filter the solution and use it to clean your eyes. Wash the affected area with the solution several times a day. Alternatively, you can use the herbal mixture as a hot compress.
7. Eyebright Tincture
Eyebright herb is praised for its excellent antibacterial and astringent properties. It’s a cure for numerous eye problems like weeping eyes, bloodshot, pink eyes, and sties. Boil the herb in a pot of hot water, strain off and allow it to cool. Use the tincture as an eyewash. Alternatively, you can add equal parts of chamomile and eyebright in boiling water, allow it to cool and then clean the eyes with the mixture. You can also take the herb in tablet and capsule form.
8. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has proven antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Aloe vera contains aloin and amodin compounds which make it an effective treatment for pink eye. To relieve the eye inflammation, cut a fresh succulent leaf, squeeze out the gel and put a drop on each eye. Another way is to soak fresh aloe leaves in a pot of water and boil until they turn pale green. After that, apply the concoction to the affected area. While most eye drops contain aloe vera, a fresh gel gives the best results. Don’t use this treatment in children.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is packed with malic acid which helps to fight conjunctivitis. For this remedy, mix two tablespoons of filtered ACV in a cup of water, dip a cotton ball and then clean the affected eye. With this treatment, the infection will clear within the second day. It’s recommended that you continue with the treatment for several days to ensure the infection does not come back.
10. Milk And Honey
Honey has antimicrobial properties while milk has a soothing effect. Both form a powerful combo for treating pink eye. Simply mix equal parts, of both, and keep stirring until you get a smooth solution. Then, pour three drops of the mixture on the affected eye, using a dropper, 2-3 times a day.
The soothing effect of rosewater makes it a perfect treatment for conjunctivitis. Rosewater’s antiseptic and antibacterial properties ensure the harmful ingredients of beauty products do not affect the eye. Boil a few petals in 500ml of water and strain the solution. Soak a cotton swab and gently apply the solution on your eyes for 10 minutes. Repeat the procedure, several times a day, until the swelling disappears.
12. Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
If you have symptoms associated with conjunctivitis, baking soda can provide some relief. While most eye problems can be treated with an antibiotic, most people prefer to use baking soda. Since baking soda is alkaline in nature, it works as an antacid and as an antibacterial agent. To inhibit the eye inflammation, dissolve a half tablespoon of baking soda in a glass of water and rinse your eyes with the solution. If you experience symptoms like irritability, rashes or muscle spam, discontinue this treatment.
13. Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is commonly used in pharmaceutical ointments. Just like apple cider vinegar, it can kill bacteria within hours, not days. To treat pink eye with colloidal silver, pour 2-3 drops of it into the affected eye. Then gently blink your eye. Unlike other conventional treatments, it does not irritate your eyes. Also, it can kill almost any topical eye bacteria. Colloidal silver is available in most food stores.
14. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a natural microbial agent commonly used in treating different ailments. Coconut oil can successfully kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria, fungi, and inhibit viruses. Since it also works as an anti-inflammatory, it can soothe the affected area. For best results, use organic coconut oil (one in its purest form). Consuming two tablespoons of coconut oil every day can treat eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma and pink eye. Coconut oil also boosts your immune system. Alternatively, you can rub some of this oil on the tear duct and upper eyelid. It works best when applied before going to bed.
Goldenseal has antimicrobial, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties that aid in healing conjunctivitis. The herb works by healing the mucous membranes. For this remedy, take powdered goldenseal, mix it with boiled water, and use as an eye drop. Besides that, you can use the solution to wash your eyes. For quick results, add chamomile or comfrey.
Barberry works as an anti-inflammatory agent making it an effective remedy for pink eye. Barberry contains alkaloids which help to combat the infection-causing bacteria. Furthermore, the herb boosts your immune system. Barberry is available in form of tinctures, capsules, fluid extracts and ointments. For this remedy, simply boil some powdered barberry and use the solution as an eye wash. Even when one eye is infected, you should wash both eyes just in case the infection spreads to the other eye. You may also want to use the solution as a hot compress. The herb should not be used by children or lactating women.
17. Chamomile Tea Bags
Without a doubt, chamomile is one of the most effective treatments for conjunctivitis thanks to the anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-irritant properties. Unlike other over-the-counter medications, this herb has no side effects. For this natural treatment, put chamomile tea bag in a cup of water for about 10 minutes and strain off. Pour a few drops of tea on the affected eye 3 times in a day. You could also place a warm moist chamomile tea bag on the affected eye for about 10 minutes. The good part about this herb is that it can be used by anyone, including pregnant and lactating women.
Marigold has potent therapeutic benefits making it a perfect remedy for pink eye. The herb helps to fight infections, inflammations, and works as an antioxidant. A compress made of marigold would alleviate the eye problem within days.
Potatoes have numerous anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and astringent properties. Additionally, they help to reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system. To alleviate pink eye problem, cut a raw potato and place it on the affected eye for 20 minutes. This potent herb would reduce the swelling and redness within hours.
20. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds contain valuable bioactive compounds that aid in treatment of conjunctivitis. For this remedy, crush a few fennel seeds and boil them in 500ml of water. Strain the resultant fennel tea, allow the liquid to cool and then put a few drops in your eyes. Moreover, to relieve your eyes from pain and itchiness, you could also splash your eyes with the concoction. Use the concoction up to three times a day. Talk to your pediatrician before you use fennel seeds on your children.
21. Vitamin A
Pink eye is associated with lack of enough vitamins A. As such, you should take foods rich in vitamin A like dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers and most fruits. If you have allergic pink eye, chances are that both eyes would get infected, so always make sure vitamins are part of your daily diet in order to fortify your immune system. Regular intake of vitamins will also protect the eye membranes.
Garlic contains allicin, an active compound with proven antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. For these reasons, it can clear any symptom associated with pink eye. For this treatment, peel a few cloves of garlic and crush them to obtain some juice. Then, rub it on the problem area for a few minutes to alleviate the soreness. You may feel some burning sensation but it will clear within minutes. When properly used, this remedy would prevent the infection from spreading.
23. Take Out The Eye Contacts
Wearing your contacts for long periods can contaminate the lens leading to irritation. So, if you have conjunctivitis, it’s advisable that you clean the lens to avoid re-infecting your eye. It’s even better if you use disposable lenses.
Turmeric has antiviral and immune-boosting compounds, such as curcumin, that help to treat conjunctivitis. Mix one spoonful of turmeric powder with some water and then apply the paste around the inflamed areas. Make sure the mixture does not get into contact with your eye.
25. Neem Oil
Neem oil has undeniable antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It relieves pain and treats irritated skin. Gently apply the oil on the eyelids before going to bed. For maximum benefits, you can combine it with tea tree oil. You should see some positive improvement in a few days.
26. Castor Oil
Castor oil has been used to get rid of inflammation since ancient times. Once you notice the first signs of pink eye, apply the oil on both upper and lower eyelids. At first, you may have some blurred vision but there is nothing to worry about. You should also use the oil when going to bed. To get your desired results, use the oil for two to three days.
27. Activated Charcoal
You could also use charcoal dust to treat conjunctivitis. Although there is no proof to support the claim, there are pieces of anecdotal evidence to show that activated charcoal is capable of getting rid of pink eye without unpleasant side effects. For this remedy, mix one tablespoon of activated charcoal dust with one teaspoon of salt. Boil for 5 minutes and then pour a few drops of the cooled solution into the affected eye. The charcoal is effective between 2 to 10 days.
28. Lemon Juice
Several studies have confirmed that the acid content in lemon juice can help to alleviate pink eye symptoms. To ensure the acid content does not exacerbate the condition, make sure the juice does not get in contact with your eyes. You should apply the juice with your finger on the swollen areas, especially on the eyelids. This treatment also helps to remove the pus from the eyes.
Unsweetened yogurt contains the good bacteria (probiotics) which help to inhibit disease-causing bacteria. Furthermore, just like human milk, yogurt works as an immune booster, thus, reducing your recovery time. To treat pink eye, pour a few drops of diluted unsweetened yogurt in your eyes with a dropper. For additional antibacterial qualities, you can add some honey. Follow this treatment up to three times a day.
30. Vegetable Juices
Regular consumption of vegetable juices will help to treat conjunctivitis. Besides that, you should take pumpkins, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and sprouts. For best results, mix equal amounts of raw parsley and carrot juice and drink when on an empty stomach. You can also substitute parsley with beetroot juice. At the same time, stay away from starchy and sugary foods. Since vegetables don’t have any negative effect on your body, you can take them as many times as possible.
31. Lavender Oil
Essential oils like lavender oil, chamomile oil, and tea tree oil help to alleviate itching and redness in the eyes. Furthermore, these oils aid in inhibiting bacteria and viruses that cause pink eye. A combination of chamomile oil and lavender oil gives the best results. For this remedy, mix equal portions of the oil and then use a cotton swab to apply to the affected area. Allow the oils to dry naturally and then wash off. Make sure they don’t get into contact with your eyes.
Elderberry has potent anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It helps to alleviate the inflammation associated with conjunctivitis. Since conjunctivitis is often caused by a virus, elderberry would not only inhibit the virus but would also boost your immune system. This means regular consumption of elderberry fruits will help in the recovery process. Whether in raw or dried form, elderberry would give the same benefits. Before you use elderberry on your child, it’s crucial that you talk to your pediatrician.
33. Licorice Root
Apart from its ability to cure digestive problems, licorice is also effective in treating conjunctivitis. Licorice contains saponin bioactive compounds which have immense curative and therapeutic properties. Licorice root can alleviate inflammation associated with viral or bacterial infection. Just boil the root in a pot of hot water and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes. Then, apply the cooled down concoction on the eyes twice a day until the symptoms disappear. The root extract will reduce pain and eliminate watery eyes.
Plantain is a medicinal shrub known for its amazing astringent actions. Moreover, it has salicylic acid which works as an analgesic by relieving pain and reducing inflammation. It’s also very efficacious in relieving itchiness and redness. To make a plantain eyewash, boil plantain leaves in a cup of water, strain off and then apply, the resultant plantain water, on the swollen area. Alternatively, you can crush some plantain leaves and spread the paste on your eyelids. Use the concoction until the swelling disappears.
35. Green Tea
Green tea is one of the best natural remedies for pink eye. It’s rich in catechins and bioflavonoid which help to fight viral and bacterial infections. To treat this eye condition with green tea, place moist tea bags on your eyes for about 15 minutes. Along with alleviating the infection, the tea will reduce your eye puffiness. You can also drink the tea as you wait for the tea bag to start working.
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