Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye, is a condition that affects the conjunctiva, the mucus membrane that lines the surface of the eye and the eyelid. When the conjunctiva is healthy, it is clear; however, when it is irritated or when an infection occurs, the white portion of the eye becomes swollen and red, thus causing the eye to look puffy and pink in appearance; hence the name “pink eye.”
Pink Eye Types and Causes
There are different types of pink eye, and each type is associated with a different cause. Here is a look at the different types of pink eye and the factors that cause each type to occur:
– Viral pink eye. This type of conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, such as the common cold. The virus enters the eye and affects the lining of the eye and the eyelid. Viral pink eye is highly contagious, which means that if it develops in one eye, it usually spread to the other, and it can also easily be spread to other people. Avoiding contact with the eye and increased handwashing and disinfecting is recommended to prevent spreading the condition. Viral pink eye usually clears up within one to two weeks. Antihistamines, decongestants, and eye drops can help to smooth the symptoms associated with this type of pink eye.
– Bacterial pink eye. This form of pink eye forms when the lining of the eye is contaminated with bacteria. Bacteria can be spread via exposure to a surface that is contaminated, by contact with a person who is infected with bacterial pink eye, or by an ear or a sinus infection. The bacteria infect the conjunctiva, causing it to inflame and become red. A thick discharge or pus can also occur. Like a viral pink eye, bacterial conjunctivitis is highly contagious; however, unlike the viral form, it can cause serious damage if it is left untreated, which means that medical intervention is necessary. Topical antibiotic eye drops and ointments are usually used to treat this type of infection.
– Allergic pink eye. As this name implies, this type of conjunctivitis is caused by allergies. When the eye is exposed to certain allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, and dust mites, the conjunctiva can become swollen and red. Allergic pink eye is not contagious and there is no cure, though there are ways to ease the symptoms, such as antihistamines that alleviate the side effects of the exposed allergens and medicated eye drops. Avoiding an allergen is highly recommended to avoid the development of this type of pink eye.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
Each type of pink eye is accompanied by similar symptoms, though some of the symptoms differ with each type. The signs and symptoms of each type of pink eye include the following:
– Viral pink eye symptoms. Itchy, watery eyes; redness of the whites of the eye; puffiness surrounding the eye; light sensitivity.
– Bacterial pink eye symptoms. Redness of the whites of the eyes; puffiness around the eyes and light sensitivity also occur with this type of pink eye. However, a greenish-yellow discharge also develops, and it can be thick enough to cause the eyelids to stick together.
– Allergic Pink Eye. Watery eyes; burning sensation; itchiness; puffiness around the eyes; redness of the whites of the eyes. This type of pink eye is also usually accompanied by other classic symptoms of allergies, such as congestion and a runny nose. The eyes may also be sensitive to light.
Home Remedies for Pink Eye
While there are medications available that can treat pink eye, there may be reasons that you want to forego a trip to the doctor or an over-the-counter remedy; for example, you may not have medical insurance, or you might not like the idea of using medications. Whatever the reason, you will be happy to know that there are ways that you can treat pink eye naturally.
There are several home remedies that have proven to be effective for the treatment of pink eye, and here’s a look at 14 of them.
1. Green Tea
Green tea contains bioflavonoids, which have been found to ease both the inflammation and the irritation that is associated with both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis. Matcha green tea, in particular, yields highly effective results.
In order to use this home remedy, simply place a green tea bag into boiling hot water. Remove the teabag from the water and once it is cool to the touch, place it over the affected eye.
Also called ‘holy basil,’ tulsi leaves possess anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that can combat the symptoms of all three types of pink eye. Simply steep some tulsi leaves in boiling hot water for several minutes.
Remove the leaves and wash your eyes with the water. Alternatively, you could soak a clean washcloth or cotton ball in the water and apply it to your eye as a compress.
Turmeric is a spice that is highly regarded for its inflammatory properties. It also possesses antibacterial properties, making it a great home remedy for pink viral and bacterial pink eye.
Place two tablespoons of turmeric to a cup of boiled water, soak a washcloth or cotton ball in the water and place it over the eye as a compress.
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera contains emodin and aloin, which have both antiviral and antibacterial properties. Aloe vera also reduces inflammation and shortens healing time.
Apply a few dabs of aloe vera gel around your eyelid and eye to ease the symptoms of pink eye.
5. Colloidal silver
A suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles that are placed in a colloidal base, colloidal silver has the ability to attract infected cells and send them into the bloodstream.
Place a few drops around the affected eye and you should see fast results.
6. Neem oil
This oil offers soothing, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that can ease conjunctivitis.
In order to use neem oil as a treatment for pink eye, simply apply a few drops to your fingers or a clean cotton ball and dab it around the affected eye and eyelid.
You should see relief almost immediately.
7. Organic Honey
Believe it or not, organic honey has antibacterial properties that have been found to soothe the pink eye and speed up the rate of recovery. To use honey as a treatment for pink eye, you can add a few drops to your eyewash.
You could also add a few drops to hot water, allow it to cool, and use the mixture as an eyewash. Lastly, you could mix equal parts honey and warm milk and apply a few drops of the mixture to the affected eye.
8. A Potato
Potatoes contain natural astringents that can help to ease the inflammation that is associated with all types of pink eye. For this remedy, peel and grate a raw potato and apply the pieces to your affected eye for several minutes.
The astringent properties will help to decrease the swelling and irritation caused by the pink eye.
9. Breast milk
Breast milk contains a myriad of antibodies that are beneficial for the treatment and prevention of a variety of ailments. One antibody, in particular, immunoglobulin A, has been suggested to prevent the bacteria that causes bacterial pink eye from attaching to the surface of the eye.
As a result, it can reduce the growth of the bacteria, thereby preventing the infection from spreading and speeding up recovery time. Use a clean eyedropper to apply a few drops of breast milk onto the surface of the eye, making sure to live the eyelid so that the milk can enter underneath.
10. Salt Water Eye Wash
Saline eyewashes have long been used to treat the symptoms of pink eye. Though you can purchase ready-made saline washes at a variety of locations, you can also make your own version at home.
Apply salt to boiling water and allow it to cool. Use a clean eyedropper to apply the saltwater directly into the eye to ease the inflammation and redness.