Natural Remedies to Ease Pink Eye

Are there ways to get rid of pink eye symptoms naturally?

Women applying makeup in bedroom
If you have pink eye, avoid sharing cosmetics and makeup brushes. Tom Merton/Getty Images

Pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis) is a common infection or irritation of the conjunctiva, a transparent membrane that lines your eyelid and the whites of your eyes. The condition is characterized by a pink cast to the whites of the eyes, which is caused by inflammation of tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva.

Symptoms of Pink Eye

In addition to redness in one or both eyes, symptoms of pink eye can include itchiness, discharge, swelling of the eyelids, or tearing.

People who get pink eye often wake up in the morning to find their eyes pasted shut by the crust that forms from the discharge.

What Causes It?

In many cases, pink eye is caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Viral conjunctivitis (often linked to the common cold virus) is typically associated with a watery or whitish discharge, while bacterial conjunctivitis tends to generate a thicker, yellow-green discharge. 

Pink eye can also result from seasonal allergies or from exposure to chemicals, smoke, dust, or other irritating substances.

Treatment

If you experience any of the following (or if your symptoms aren't improving), it's important to see a healthcare provider:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Intense redness of the eye
  • Pus is yellow or green
  • Sensitivity to light

Depending on the type of pink eye you have, your doctor may prescribe a treatment, like antibiotic eye drops for bacterial conjunctivitis or medication for allergic conjunctivitis.

 Infants or children with pink eye should see a doctor. 

Natural Remedies for Pink Eye

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are both highly contagious. To keep the infection from spreading (and prevent reinfection), seek immediate treatment, avoid touching your eyes, don't share towels, handkerchiefs, or cosmetics, wash your hands frequently, wash your pillowcases and bedding regularly, and avoid sharing contact lenses solution or cases.

For some people, applying a compress over your closed eyelids may help to soothe the irritation. Soak a clean cloth in warm water, wring it out, and apply to your closed eyelids. For allergic conjunctivitis, use cool water instead of warm water.

Although eye compresses or washes made from herbal infusions (using such herbs as eyebright or chamomile) are sometimes said to ease pink eye symptoms, they pose a risk of allergic reactions, eye irritation, and eye injury. Homemade eye drops or washes made from other substances should also be avoided due to safety concerns. (In general, you should only use products that have been proven safe for use in the eyes.)

For some people, getting plenty of sleep and staying hydrated may help speed your recovery.

Using Natural Remedies

Pink eye can be quite unpleasant, which may lead you to seek remedies to speed your recovery. Although many herbs, washes, and drops are said to help pink eye, there's a lack of research supporting their use.

If you're still considering trying a pink eye remedy, it's important to talk with your healthcare provider to weigh the pros and cons and discuss whether it's appropriate for you rather than self-treating and delaying or avoiding standard care.

 

Sources:

Carvalho RS, Kara-José N, Temporini ER, Kara-Junior N, Noma-Campos R. Self-medication: initial treatments used by patients seen in an ophthalmologic emergency room. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2009;64(8):735-41. 

Stoss M, Michels C, Peter E, Beutke R, Gorter RW. "Prospective cohort trial of Euphrasia single-dose eye drops in conjunctivitis." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2000 6(6):499-508.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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