Characterized by itchy eyes, a mucous discharge and a gritty feeling in the eye, pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the membrane that lines your eyelid. It is most commonly caused by either a bacterial infection or virus (and occasionally allergies). Although pink eye isn’t a serious problem, it is highly contagious, can cause discomfort and can even lead to serious eye damage if left unchecked for too long.
Viral pink eye is usually left to heal on its own, with occasional treatment of antihistamines or anti-inflammatory drugs; bacterial pink eye is usually treated with antibiotics. To speed up recovery—and avoid using antibiotics—check out these natural home remedies for pink eye.
Clear up pink eye quickly with these natural remedies.
Try an eye compress. Apply a cool compress for allergy-related pink eye and a warm compress for bacterial or viral pink eye. If only one eye is affected, be careful to not let the cloth touch both eyes so as to prevent spreading the pink eye.
Stop wearing contacts. Until your eyes have healed, you may want to avoid wearing contact lenses. If your contacts are disposable, talk to your eye doctor about whether or not to throw them away. Give your case a thorough clean to kill any bacteria or viruses that may have come into contact with it.
Practice good hygiene. Pink eye is highly contagious. If one member of your family has it, be on the safe side and practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water more often than regular, and be sure to use different towels.
Pump up your immune system. If your pink eye is viral or bacterial, it never hurts to strengthen your immune system to help fight the infection off. Check out the post “Antibacterial Food and Herbs” and “Immune Boosters: Elderberry, Echinacea, Garlic and Oregano” for a list of foods and herbs that can help strengthen your immune system and target the bacteria in your body.
Calendula: Calendula’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can help soothe and heal eyes suffering from conjunctivitis. Steep 1 to 2 tablespoons dried calendula in hot water for an hour. Once cool, dip a cotton ball in the solution, then apply to the affected eye and cover for 10 minutes.
Chamomile: Also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, chamomile can calm pink eye. Place damp, cooled chamomile tea bags on affected eyes for 10 minutes. Or steep 1 teaspoon of chamomile in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes, let cool then apply a dampened cotton ball, gauze pad or cloth to affected eyes for 10 minutes.
Milk and honey: One Ayurvedic remedy calls for diluting honey in warm milk, stirring until the two combine evenly and applying 2 to 3 drops of the mixture to affected eyes using an eye dropper. Honey has antibacterial qualities that can help clear up bacterial pink eye, and milk has soothing qualities to calm inflammation.
And more: Eyebright, marigold and plantain are all said to help relieve symptoms of pink eye. Prepare them using the methods mentioned above for calendula and chamomile. Grated potato wrapped in cheesecloth and applied to the eye is also said to help dry out pink eye. Prepared herbal eyewashes can also help relieve symptoms when used properly.