Pink eye is a condition which arises from infection and inflammation of the outer membrane of the eyeball. Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis is caused by either bacterial or viral infection or due to allergies. The viral variant of conjunctivitis is a highly contagious disease. Pink eye or conjunctivitis usually resolve on their own, but you can follow several home remedies for pink eye treatment. These pink eye remedies will help relieve the itchiness and hasten the healing process.
School kids, college students, teachers, daycare workers, are at risk people since they need to work in an indoor setting in proximity. Common pink eye symptoms are burning and irritation in the eye, redness in the eye, eye fatigue, thick yellow eye discharge, temporary blurred vision, etc.
Before you see home remedies for pink eye treatment, let us spend some time and understand the cause, who are at risk and pink eye symptoms in detail.
What happens when you have conjunctivitis or pink eye?
Pink eye is swelling of the mucous membrane, the conjunctiva and inner lining of the eyelids (1). Our conjunctiva is transparent, and it contains blood vessels that overlay the sclera. When an infection occurs, the blood vessels dilate to release antibodies. Conjunctivitis may lead to the eye appearing bloodshot.
Similarly, any irritant or allergen can cause the inflammation of the cornea and dilate of the blood vessels giving it a pink eye appearance.
What is the causative factor?
Physicians and healthcare providers commonly refer pink eye to the viral variant of conjunctivitis. As discussed, pink eye can occur due to following reasons.
Most cases of bacterial conjunctivitis are acute and self-limiting. It affects one eye and may spread to the other eye. Acute bacterial conjunctivitis has causative organisms like Streptococcus pneumonia, Streptococcus aureus and Haemophilus influenzae.
The chronic and hyperacute type of bacterial conjunctivitis can occur due to Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria (2).
The viral variant is the most common and most contagious of all forms of conjunctivitis. It affects one eye and soon involves the other eye in a few days. A variety of virus can cause this infection, but adenovirus is one of the most common cause. Herpes simplex virus can also cause the infection.
This type of conjunctivitis can occur due to dust particles, pollen, animal dander. It can be seasonal, which flares up on exposure to the allergens, or it can happen year-round in sensitive individuals. This type of conjunctivitis is non-contagious.
This type of conjunctivitis occurs especially in factory workers who come in contact with toxic and hazardous chemicals.
Who are at risk?
1. Closed places
Conjunctivitis usually spreads from one infected person to other. Crowded living and social conditions can rapidly spread the infection. Schools, colleges, hospitals are the common places people pick up the infection.
2. Improper Hygiene
People who wear contact lenses and maintain poor lens hygiene fall in the high-risk group. Sharing and using contaminated cosmetics can spread the infection.
Ocular disease such as dry eyes and blepharitis increase the risk of conjunctivitis. Recent ocular surgery with sutures is more prone to getting infected. Immunocompromised people like those with diabetes can easily contract this disease.
4. Improper safety
Working in high-risk stations without safety glasses where foreign bodies can enter the eye and cause ocular irritation.
Chronic use of topical steroid medications increases the chance of acquiring an eye infection. Neonates are at high risk for neonatal conjunctivitis.
Pink eye symptoms
- Thick yellow eye discharge collects in the corner of the eye
- Especially, when you wake up in the morning, the discharge can make the eyelids stick together
- The redness in the eye can be unilateral, bilateral or sequentially bilateral
- Severe light sensitivity
- Tearing of the eye
- Irritation, burning sensation
- The vision appears blurry
- Eye fatigue
How can you prevent pink eye or conjunctivitis?
Always wash your hands with antiseptic soap after coming in contact with any person suffering from conjunctivitis. If you are experiencing pink eye, try and limit rubbing your eye, and wash your hands immediately to prevent the spread of bacteria/virus.
If you are caring for someone with a pink eye infection, then use sterile gloves. Also, you can sanitise your hand with an alcohol-based sanitizer. Do not share eye makeup, or cosmetics, or any personal hygiene products with anyone.
If you wear contact lenses, discard them after an infection episode to prevent re-infection. If you had a recent experience of pink eye, discard the cosmetics, sanitise your bed sheets, pillowcases, towels to get rid of the disease-producing bacteria and virus.
Conventional treatment of pink eye
The viral variant of pink eye usually resolves on its own in a few days. Doctor or healthcare providers may prescribe you tablets or drops for symptomatic relief. In bacterial conjunctivitis, doctors usually prescribe antibiotic drops.
If the irritation is due to allergic conjunctivitis, eliminating the allergen will subside the condition. The physician may prescribe you antihistamine drops and anti-inflammatory drops.
Home remedies for pink eye
1. Boric Acid eyewash
Boric acid is a potent antiseptic and has potent anti-inflammatory properties. The hydrogen borate crystals readily dissolve in water, and the solution is taken in a dropper and dispensed in the eye one drop at a time.
The anti-inflammatory properties of boric acid will prevent the redness and swelling of the eyes. The antiseptic element of boric acid will cause the etiotropic destruction of the infection producing bacteria.
2. Green and Black tea
Tea contains flavonoids which helps combat the bacterial and viral infection. Tea also contains active ingredient tannins that have anti-inflammatory properties.(3) Keep the moist tea bags on the affected eye for at least 10 minutes.
Repeat this procedure several times a day till the swelling, itchiness and redness associated with pink eye subsides.
Goldenseal also is known as the orange root, or yellow puccoon is a very effective natural antibiotic. This herb has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties.
The active ingredient berberine found in goldenseal herb has proven to have antibacterial action. You can give a warm compress of orange root to get symptomatic relief from pink eye.
4. Eyebright flower
Eyebright can be one of the best home remedies for pink eye, especially for people suffering from allergic conjunctivitis. The anti-inflammatory properties of Eyebright flowers contain aucubin, login and verbenalin, which have antihistamine action.
Boil the eyebright flowers in water, and allow the water to reach room temperature. Wash your eyes with this water, and soon you will get relief from itchiness and redness of the eye.
5. Basil or tulsi
Basil or tulsi has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties(4) and it is one of best remedies for pink eye treatment. Boil the basil leaves in water, allow it to cool down at room temperature.
Soak a fresh cotton pad in the liquid and wipe the crusts off the eyes that tend to develop in this condition. The procedure is repeated every morning till the infection subsides.
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has been proven to be a benefit in the pink eye treatment. Aloe Vera gel has active ingredients like aloin and emodin that have antiviral and antibacterial action.(5) Fresh aloe vera gel works best for soothing the inflammation associated with conjunctivitis.
Apply the gel on the eyelids and also in and around the eyes. Aloe Vera gel speeds up your eye healing process.
7. Marshmallow root
Marshmallow root contains flavonoids which possess anti-inflammatory properties. Marshmallow root contains an active ingredient called mucilage. It acts as a soothing demulcent that helps in lessening the itchiness and swelling associated with pink eye.
Honey has various antimicrobial properties and is also one of the best remedies for pink eye treatment. Mix raw honey with water and use it as an eyewash. You can also add chamomile to this mixture.
Chamomile has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The mixture of both ingredients will help you soothe the burning sensation and speed up the healing process.
Turmeric is known for its potent healing properties in many diseases. Boil a cup of water, a teaspoon of turmeric and salt. Allow it to cool down to room temperature.
Dip a cotton ball or a cotton pad in this solution and place it on your affected eye for ten minutes. Repeat the procedure every day till the eye infection subsides.
Rose is a soothing astringent. People with allergic conjunctivitis with severe irritation and itching can use rosewater to clean the area around the eye. Alternately, you can use rose oil and raw milk together to get relief from the pain and burning sensation. The mixture is cooled and applied to the eyes.
11. Colloidal silver
Colloidal silver has been in use for treating conjunctivitis for a long time. The tiny silver colloids present picks up the bacteria causing conjunctivitis. Use 2-3 drops of the solution per eye for every eight hours for quick results.
Plantain leaves contain an active ingredient silicic acid. This component helps in reducing the inflammation. You have to make a poultice out of freshly crushed leaves of the plantain plant and any other ingredients discussed so far. You can apply the poultice around your eyes.
Final words on home remedies for pink eye
It is best to prevent the occurrence of conjunctivitis or pink eyes. Try and avoid contact with the infected person. It is advisable to go for probiotic-rich foods for developing immunity level. Maintain necessary hygiene protocols such as do not share eye brushes, cosmetics and discard the old beauty products.
And if at all you are infected with the pink eye then follow above home remedies for pink eye treatment. If the condition worsens, then see a doctor immediately.