Pinkeye, also know as pink eye or conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the membranes (conjunctiva) covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids. It can be viral (typically linked to Adenoviruses), bacterial or allergy related. As the name suggests, the inflammation causes the eye to take on a pink coloration. We compiled a list of home remedies for pinkeye that will help you get your eyes bright and healthy again ASAP.
Typical symptoms also include pain, itching, swelling, tearing and oozing goop that spackles your eyelids together while you sleep. You will likely end up looking like Bob Costas during the Sochi Olympics. If it’s viral, discharge is likely to be thinner and clearer, if it’s bacterial, discharge is likely to be thicker and greenish-yellow in color. Because the eyes, ears, nose and throat are connected, the side effects may spread around a bit, giving you cold-like symptoms. If pain increases significantly, vision becomes blurred, sensitivity to light or signs of further infection develop, please see a trained healthcare professional.
Viral pinkeye and bacterial pinkeye are quite contagious, so be exceptionally careful to avoid cross-contamination. Don’t leave goobered tissues laying around. Wash hands frequently. Avoiding touching your face with your hands as much as possible if you are not infected. Wash surfaces and towels frequently. Don’t go back to school or work, until the worst of the symptoms have subsided, usually 3-5 days.
Home Remedies for Pinkeye
1. Breastmilk. Long time favorite of midwives and mothers in the know, breast milk has naturally occurring good bacteria that will crowd out the bad bacteria. Simply use a clean eyedropper to place a few drops of expressed milk into each eye. This should be repeated every few hours until the inflammation subsides.
2. Raw milk. Like human breast milk, raw dairy from other mammals such as cows, goats, or sheep will also contain good bacteria and should be applied in the same manner. Use only raw dairy from a trusted source where the animals have been tested and are disease free. Pasteurized dairy does not contain good bacteria (it is a dead food – the goal of pasteurization is to kill all bacteria, even the ones that help you digest the milk) and will not be effective as a probiotic treatment.
3. Live Culture Dairy. If you don’t have access to naturally raw dairy, you can take advantage of foods that have had good bacteria added to them, such as milk kefir or yogurt whey. Make sure to use plain, unsweetened and unflavored dairy kefir or yogurt whey. Look for (or make) products that have live and active cultures. Strain off the whey, and apply as you would the milk above.
4. Warm or Cool Compresses. To clear away the pinkeye “ooze” and buildup around the eyes, warm compresses are often made with a wet washcloth, gauze or muslin. Place gently over affected area until hardened discharge softens and can be gently wiped away. Follow with a cool compress to reduce swelling.Make sure to thoroughly disinfect or discard all compresses.Always use a fresh compress for each treatment. As mentioned above, pinkeye is very contagious.
5. Black or Green Tea. Black and green teas can be applied as a compress. Use the spent tea bags, or dip a gauze pad in the brewed tea and apply for several minutes three to four times per day. These teas contain bioflavonoids, which reduce inflammation and fight viral and bacterial infections. Black tea may be more effective than green because of a higher tannin content. (source)
6. Chickweed. Susun Weed recommends fresh chickweed poultices to bring soothing relief to pinkeye inflammation. Simply gather of handful of fresh chickweed, crush to release the juices, and apply to the eye area. Place a washcloth over the crushed plants to hold them in place. Let sit until compress starts to warm. Repeat one to two times per day, using fresh chickweed each time. Chickweed is wonderful little wild plant to know, as it makes a nutritious and tasty salad green and can be used internally and externally to help with all sorts of inflammation. Learn more about chickweed in Weekly Weeder #2.
7. Eyebright. Another wonderful herbal remedy for the eyes is an herb called eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis). As the name would indicate, this herb is used primarily for treating the eye conditions such as conjunctivitis and blepharitis. In The Holistic Herbal, David Hoffmann recommends putting one tablespoon of eyebright in one pint (500 ml) of water, boiling ten minutes, and letting it cool. Apply the cool liquid with a compress placed on the eyes for 15 minutes several times per day.
8. Honey. Some folks recommend putting a bit of raw honey straight into the eye, but I feel that dissolving the honey in an equal part of warm milk or water and applying a few drops of that liquid to the eye several times per day is a better choice, especially if you’re like me and your honey sometimes starts to crystallize. Make sure you’re using real honey – local and raw is great if you can get it. Manuka honey is another good choice. Some cheaper honeys in stores may be cut with less expensive products like corn syrup. To learn more about healing with honey, check out “Honey as Medicine – Prevent Infection, Kill Bacteria, Promote Healing.”
9. Raw Potato. Raw potato is a favorite folk remedy for many ailments, from headaches to yellow jacket stings. (Check out “Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings“.) As it turns out, it’s commonly recommended for pinkeye as well. Simply slice or grate a clean, raw potato (I’d vote for grating because it would conform to the eye area better, but slicing would be a little less messy) and place the potato on eye area for about ten minutes several times per day. Cover with a clean washcloth to help hold it in place. The raw potato poultice will help draw out the infection.
Next time you or someone you care about gets hit with pinkeye, just head for the pantry or garden for quick relief from itching, oozing and swelling.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you may also find other posts in the Home Remedies Series on Common Sense Homesteading useful.
Note: This post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. In case of serious injury, please see a trained healthcare professional.
This is a guest post by Laurie Neverman of Common Sense Homesteading. Laurie and her family live in rural northeast Wisconsin in an environmentally friendly/energy efficient/accessible/new fangled/old fashioned home with solar panels, a root cellar and an herbal apothecary. She has a BS in Math/Physics and an MS in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently employed as a wife and mother with a passion for natural healing, homesteading and gardening. She and her husband, August, homeschool their two boys, August V and Duncan. You can connect with her at www.commonsensehome.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CommonSenseHome and Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+LaurieNeverman/posts.