Q: My kids and I get pink eye every once in a while. Are there any natural remedies for pink eye?
A: Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eye. Your eye becomes bloodshot, swollen and irritated and may be sticky with discharge, especially when you wake up.
The natural remedies for pink eye that you should use depends in part on whether it’s caused by bacteria, a virus or an allergy.
If you’ve got a lot of thick discharge and it’s in both eyes, it’s likely to be bacterial conjunctivitis and might require prescription antibiotic drops or ointment.
Viral conjunctivitis may affect only one eye, and although there’s likely to be tearing, there’s generally not much discharge.
Allergic conjunctivitis is marked by tearing, itching, and redness in both eyes and may respond to an antihistamine.
Beyond that, recommendations for natural remedies for pink eye are pretty much the same.
Try These Natural Remedies for Pink Eye
Bathe the eyes with either warm water or water mixed with a pinch of salt several times during the day. Apply warm compresses (cotton pads dipped in warm water) to the affected eye for five to 10 minutes three or four times a day. Chamomile compresses are particularly soothing; simply dip a teabag in warm water and place over the eye.
Other helpful natural remedies for pink eye are homeopathic eye drops, which are sold in health food stores.
One other thing you might try is colloidal silver. Topical silver has proven antibacterial and antiviral properties—even newborns’ eyes are treated with silver nitrate to prevent infections. Several of my patients have reported that a diluted solution (5–10 ppm) of colloidal silver in the affected eyes three times a day works wonders. Use one part sterilized saline water to one part silver in a clean glass eyedropper or eyecup.
Be aware that bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are extremely contagious and can spread through families and daycare centers like wildfire. If you or your child is infected, make sure the entire family practices scrupulous hygiene. Wash hands often, don’t share towels or washcloths, and change pillowcases daily. Above all, be patient. Conjunctivitis usually clears up in a few days.