Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is a very common infection of the eye that is highly contagious, but also relatively easy to treat, particularly with home remedies, including the use of honey, eye drops, green tea, turmeric, aloe vera gel, neem oil, lemon juice and garlic, among others.
What is Conjunctivitis?
As we all know, protecting the health of our eyes is crucial, but they are also exposed to external threats, and only protected by thin membranes and our rejuvenating, cleansing tears. Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye, is an infection of the conjunctiva, the thin tissue that protects the whites of our eyes, as well as the inside of our eyelids. When these tissues become inflamed or infected, the symptoms are very easy to recognize. They include itchy eyes, redness in the whites of the eye, a burning sensation in the eye, light sensitivity, blurred vision, white discharge from the eye, and yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes and lids (typically at night). A number of bacteria and viruses can cause this infection, as well as natural irritants in the atmosphere, smoke, shampoo, prolonged contact use, chlorine and allergens, such as pollen or dust.
Conjunctivitis can come in a variety of forms, with varying levels of severity. Pink eye caused by irritants can usually be cleared up quite quickly, either through eye drops or the natural process of the eye to cleanse itself. However, allergic and vital conjunctivitis can be more serious, particularly if the infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus, gonorrhea or chlamydia. The common cold can also cause this condition, and can thus be treated by eliminating the cold. More formal and rigorous medical treatment is recommended for more serious infections. Also, if an infant or young toddler develops pink eye, it is very important to see a doctor immediately, as this infection can cause permanent damage or vision loss at that age. Regardless of the cause of pink eye, it is important to visit a medical professional, as it can be difficult to determine the underlying cause without testing of the membrane or fluid discharge from the eye. In addition to this, there are a number of proven home and natural remedies for pink eye, many of which are outlined in more detail below.
Home Remedies for Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Home remedies to treat conjunctivitis include the use of honey, eye drops, green tea, turmeric, aloe vera gel, neem oil, lemon juice, and garlic among others. Let us look at each of these remedies in detail.
The health benefits of garlic are not up for debate, and their impact on pink eye is just as impressive as for many other ailments. The active ingredient in garlic, allicin, has proven antioxidant, antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial qualities, making it ideal to clear up whatever underlying infection is causing your conjunctivitis. You can slice a garlic clove, allowing the juice to come out, and then rub it directly on the top of the infected eyelid. This can quickly relieve the burning sensation and prevent the infection from spreading.
Aloe Vera Gel
The soothing nature of aloe vera gel can quickly relieve inflammation caused by conjunctivitis, while the immune-boosting properties of the gel help to clear out the infection. Simply dab a tissue or washcloth in aloe vera gel and gently apply it on the eyelid and around the affected eye for best results.
For certain types of conjunctivitis, such as those caused by allergens or irritants, simply flushing out your eye can be an important first step to eliminating the problem. If the tear ducts aren’t working properly, due to inflammation, then you need to use eye drops to stimulate more tear production and physically flush out whatever is bothering the conjunctiva.
Green tea is packed with antioxidants and bioflavonoids, which is why so many people turn to this beverage for a variety of health conditions. For conjunctivitis, simply steep a green tea bag and then allow it to cool (perhaps in the fridge to speed a process). Then, place the tea bag directly over the affected eye and allow the organic compounds and nutrients do their topical work. This can eliminate the infection and reduce inflammation and pain.
Wash Your Hands
The highly contagious nature of pink eye is why this infection is so common. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from getting infected or spreading it to others is to wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes after coming in contact with other people. They don’t necessarily need to be displaying symptoms to be contagious; essentially, just be wary of when and why you touch your eyes.
This herbal remedy comes up constantly in natural treatments, because it is packed with immune-boosting and antiviral compounds. For the treatment of conjunctivitis, turmeric can be mixed with water to form a thin paste. You can then dip a washcloth in this mixture and use it as a compress over the affected eye.
Eliminating the infection in your eye is one thing, but it is just as easy to get re-infected from dirty sheets or clothing, particularly on your pillows, which is where you put your face (and eyes) while you sleep. Following a bout of pink eye, thoroughly wash your bedding and clothes you had been wearing while dealing with the infection. If you haven’t been infected, clean your bedding anyways, as the collection of dust and allergens can often cause pink eye.
The dense nutrient concentration in honey makes it an essential remedy to have on hand for many respiratory and skin conditions, but it is also great for the treatment of conjunctivitis. Mixing honey with warm milk and then applying it to the affected eyelids 2-3 times per day can quickly eliminate the infection, due to the antibacterial qualities of honey.
It has undeniable anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial abilities, which help in treating irritated skin and relieving pain. Apply a small amount of neem oil around the affected eye before going to sleep, and you will see a notable improvement in a matter of days.
Take Out Your Contacts
Leaving in contacts for more than one day, or wearing them for long periods of time during each day, can increase the amount of build-up and contamination of the contact lens. This can cause irritation, if it becomes slightly disfigured, allowing other irritants to become trapped beneath them. Regularly clean and take out your contacts, particularly if you have diagnosed with conjunctivitis.
The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of lemon are well known, and widely accessible. For conjunctivitis, mix lemon juice with a small amount of water and then apply it with a washcloth or in the form of a compress. Citric acid can be very powerful, however, so be careful not to put lemon juice directly in the eye; placing it around the affected tissue will be sufficient.
Final Word of Warning
Although there is a wealth of home remedies, the underlying cause of conjunctivitis may be something that a doctor needs to address, such as a sexually transmitted disease. When you notice these symptoms, visit a medical professional, and then use these home remedies as a complementary treatment, after discussing your options with a doctor. Finally, if these symptoms are seen in infants, immediately see a doctor, as this infection in infants can result in vision loss or permanent damage.