Pink eye can occur as the result of infection or allergies. It is a highly contagious condition, especially among children, and its visible symptoms make it difficult to hide. The best way to cure pink eye is to visit a doctor for an official diagnosis and treatment plan. A medical professional will be able to tell you whether your pink eye is caused by an eye infection or is the result of an allergic reaction, and can prescribe you antibiotics if needed. However, there are also many home remedies to relieve symptoms and resolve pink eye.
The primary symptoms of pink eye include redness and pain or itching in one or both eyes. Using a cold compress can alleviate these symptoms and give patients some temporary relief. To prevent a potential infection from spreading, use a disposable cold pack or place in a disposable or washable sleeve. Leave the cold compress on for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. In order to prevent frostbite, do not allow the compress to directly contact the skin or eyes, and remove if any discomfort occurs. This will reduce pain and give the eye a break from itching and rubbing, which may worsen the problem.
If you wear contacts, it is important to remove them at the first signs of pink eye. Instead, wear your glasses. Contacts are a fashionable way to correct one’s vision, but they are still irritants to the eye. If you do not remove them, it will make it difficult for your eye to heal. In addition, throw away any contact lenses or storage cases that may have been contaminated by the infection. Your vision provider can advise you as to whether or not your lenses can be decontaminated, but it is simplest to discard them. Wearing glasses instead will allow your pink eye to heal without interruption.
Clean the Eye
Patients with pink eye often notice a crusty or gooey substance around the infected eye. This may occur along the lids or just in the corners. To promote better healing, it is important to remove this substance. To do so, you should close your eyes. Then, using a damp washcloth or paper towel, lightly swipe the debris towards the outer corner of the eye. Repeat the process until the eye is clean. This should be done every morning, and whenever a build-up of the substance is noticed throughout the day. Always be careful to dispose of or wash the towels immediately, so that no one else becomes infected.
A doctor can prescribe medicated eye drops, but you can also use over-the-counter eye drops to relieve some types of pink eye. This is especially true with pink eye caused by allergies rather than infections. Most drug and grocery stores will sell eye drops intended to act as “artificial tears”. These are usually a saline solution, without additional medical properties that specifically relieve redness. This is the best kind of eye drop to use for pink eye since it will keep your eye moist and reduce the dry, itchy feeling that accompanies pink eye. If the problem persists for more than a few days, you should see a doctor.
Some patients find a warm compress to be more effective than a cold compress. This is especially true when the pink eye is caused by infection. Much like with cold compresses, you should be cautious about exposing your skin and eyes to an extreme temperature for too long. However, with warm compresses, you should also be cautious about spreading the infection to the other eye. Be certain to use separate compresses for each eye, and immediately discard or wash the compress afterward. Typically, patients will find either warm or cold compresses to be effective and soothing, but not both. If heat exacerbates the symptoms, try switching to cold instead.
Take Proper Precautions
The most important remedy for pink eye is taking the proper precautions to prevent spreading the condition, or even re-infecting the eye. Wash your hands frequently, and use anti-bacterial wipes on frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs, phones, and light switches. If you touch your eye, immediately wash your hand and anything else that you have come into contact with. Do not go to work or school until the infection has been treated with antibiotics or the symptoms have completely resolved. Wash pillowcases, sheets, and stuffed animals frequently, since these items will likely come into contact with your eye during the night.
Milk and Honey
One popular home remedy for pink eye is a milk and honey solution. Generally, most home remedy experts recommend mixing equal parts raw honey and milk and using an eye dropper to administer it to the eyes. The soothing properties of milk, combined with the antimicrobial properties of honey, will help to correct redness and reduce itching. However, these types of remedies should be used with extreme caution. This typically works best for pink eye caused by allergies, and it is possible to worsen an infection by adding abnormal substances to the eye. You should check with your physician before using this remedy.
Most eye drops that help with pink eye are a saline solution, and it’s possible to make a similar concoction at home. To make a saline wash for your eyes, combine two cups of water and a teaspoon of salt in a pan, boiling it for 15 minutes in order to sterilize the solution. After it cools to room temperature or below, you can use this solution to irrigate your eyes and remove any irritants. As with any home remedy, it is important to consult a medical professional before attempting to treat your condition at home.
If your pink eye is caused by allergies, antihistamines may help. There are many natural forms of antihistamines, such as vitamin C, quercetin, and bromelain, which can be found in foods like fruits and vegetables. Stinging nettle, a popular herb, is also a natural antihistamine. You can combat some of the symptoms of pink eye by consuming these natural sources of antihistamines, or you can simply head to your local pharmacy or grocery store and pick up allergy medication. Be sure to pay attention to whether or not the over-the-counter medication is non-drowsy if you plan to drive or work after taking it.
Another natural remedy for pink eye is to use tea bags as compresses. Black tea has soothing properties that can help to relieve redness, pain, and itching. After cleaning any secretions from the eye, apply cold black tea bags to the affected eyelid. Be careful not to open the eye while the tea bag is applied, as this could cause irritation. After use, discard the teabags immediately so that they cannot spread a potential infection to anyone who may touch them. You should always treat pink eye as a condition that is extremely contagious, even if you think it may be caused by allergies instead.