Quick Home Remedies for Pink Eye

How to Get Rid of Pink Eye: Pink eye is an inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and eyeball

What is pink eye?

Pink eye is an inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and eyeball. This membrane is called the conjunctiva. When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become swollen and irritated, they’re more visible. This is what causes the whites of the eyes to appear reddish or pink. Pink eye also is called conjunctivitis.

What does pink eye look like?

Typical symptoms of pink eye include redness and a gritty sensation in your eye, along with itching. Often a discharge forms a crust on your eyelashes during the night. Pink eye is an inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and eyeball.

In an eye with pink eye, the white part looks light pink to reddish and your eyelids are puffy or droopy. You might see fluid (discharge) coming from the infected eye or crusting on your eyelashes and eyelids.

What causes pink eye?

Pink eye causes: Pink eye is most often caused by a viral infection. It also can be caused by a bacterial infection, an allergic reaction or — in babies — an incompletely opened tear duct.

Though pink eye can be irritating, it rarely affects your vision. Treatments can help ease the discomfort of pink eye. Because pink eye can be contagious, getting an early diagnosis and taking certain precautions can help limit its spread.

Causes of pink eye include:

  • Viruses.
  • Bacteria.
  • Allergies.
  • A chemical splash in the eye.
  • A foreign object in the eye.
  • In newborns, a blocked tear duct.

How do you get pink eye?

How to get pink eye? We see many social media comments from teens and preteens asking, “How do u get pink eye?” The answer: Pink eye is easy to catch—very easy, in fact. Coughing, sneezing, or touching can spread the infection, and it can take off like wildfire in the right conditions.

Pink eye symptoms

The most common pink eye symptoms include:

  • Redness in one or both eyes.
  • Itchiness in one or both eyes.
  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes.
  • A discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night that may prevent your eye or eyes from opening in the morning.
  • Tearing.
  • Sensitivity to light, called photophobia.

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How long does pink eye last?

Most pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis) will go away on its own in a week or two. You can make that time more comfortable by trying the remedies described below.

How long is pink eye contagious?

Pink eye contagious: Pink eye that’s caused by bacteria can spread to others as soon as symptoms appear and for as long as there’s discharge from the eye — or until 24 hours after antibiotics are started.

Is pink eye contagious? Pink eye (conjunctivitis) generally remains contagious as long as you have tearing and matted eyes. Pink eye is commonly caused by viruses or bacteria. Depending on the cause of your pink eye, signs and symptoms usually improve within a few days to two weeks.

Good hygiene — including hand-washing, avoiding close contact with others, and not sharing towels or pillowcases — is important. It may be okay to return to work if you do not have a fever, you can practice good hygiene, and you can avoid close contact with others.

Children who are not able to practice good hygiene or can’t avoid close contact with others should stay home until symptoms clear up. Check with your health care provider if you have any questions about when your child can return to school or child care.

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When to see a doctor

Sometimes you need to see a doctor for pink eye. It depends on what kind of pink eye you have and how bad it is. There are serious eye conditions that can cause eye redness. These conditions may cause eye pain, a feeling that something is stuck in your eye, blurred vision and light sensitivity. See your ophthalmologist right away if:

  • You’re in pain or are having trouble seeing
  • You become sensitive to light
  • Your symptoms have continued for a week or more, or are getting worse
  • Your eye is producing a lot of pus or mucus
  • You have any other symptoms of an infection, like fever or achiness

Pink eye is a common cause of school absences and can spread quickly in schools. Make sure your kids know how to keep from getting pink eye and other infections.

People who wear contact lenses need to stop wearing their contacts as soon as pink eye symptoms begin. If your symptoms don’t start to get better within 12 to 24 hours, make an appointment with your eye doctor to make sure you don’t have a more serious eye infection related to contact lens use.

Pink eye treatment

Pink eye treatment is usually focused on symptom relief. Your provider may recommend:

  • Using artificial tears.
  • Cleaning your eyelids with a wet cloth.
  • Applying cold or warm compresses several times daily.

If you wear contact lenses, you’ll be advised to stop wearing them until treatment is complete. Your provider will likely recommend that you throw out soft contacts you’ve already worn.

Disinfect hard lenses overnight before you reuse them. Ask your provider if you should discard and replace your contact lens accessories, such as the lens case used before or during the illness. Also replace any eye makeup used before your illness.

In most cases, you won’t need antibiotic eye drops. Since conjunctivitis is usually viral, antibiotics won’t help. They may even cause harm by reducing their effectiveness in the future or causing a medicine reaction. Instead, the virus needs time to run its course. This typically takes around 2 to 3 weeks.

Viral conjunctivitis often begins in one eye and then infects the other eye within a few days. Your symptoms should gradually clear on their own.

Antiviral medicines may be an option if your viral conjunctivitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus.

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How to get rid of pink eye?

  • Stop wearing contact lenses. Use a new pair when you go back to wearing your contacts. Your old contacts are likely infected and could get you sick again if you wear them again.
  • Stop wearing eye makeup. Throw out your old eye makeup and get new makeup once your eyes are healthy.
  • Home remedies like the ones described below can often ease the symptoms of pink eye.

Bacterial and viral pink eye home remedies

If one or both of your eyes are red and uncomfortable, it could be allergic pink eye, viral pink eye or bacterial pink eye. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out what kind of pink eye you have and other times only a doctor can tell what’s causing the problem.

  • Viral pink eye is like a common cold in the eye. There is no treatment for the virus and usually you just have to let it heal on its own. Viral pink eye should go away within a week or two without treatment.
  • Bacterial pinkeye usually produces more mucus or pus than viral or allergic pink eye. Bacterial pink eye can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.

To reduce the symptoms of bacterial or viral pink eye you can:

  • Take ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain killer.
  • Use over-the-counter lubricating eye drops (artificial tears).
  • Put a warm, damp washcloth over your eyes for a few minutes. To make this warm compress:
    • Soak a clean washcloth in warm water then wring it out so it’s not dripping.
    • Lay the damp cloth over your eyes and leave it in place until it cools.
    • Repeat this several times a day, or as often as is comfortable.
    • Use a clean washcloth each time so you don’t spread the infection.
    • Use a different washcloth for each eye if you have infectious pink eye in both eyes.

If your eyelids are sticking together, a warm washcloth can loosen the dried mucus so you can open your eyes.

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Allergic pinkeye home remedies

If your conjunctivitis is caused by allergies, stopping the source of the allergy is important. Allergic pink eye will continue as long as you’re in contact with whatever is causing it.

Allergic pink eye is not contagious. You can still go to work or school with allergic conjunctivitis and no one else will catch it. To reduce the symptoms of allergic pink eye you can:

How to cure pink eye at home fast

Pink eye home remedies! To help you cope with the symptoms of pink eye until it goes away or how to treat pink eye at home, try to:

  • Apply a compress to your eyes. To make a compress, soak a clean, lint-free cloth in water and wring it out before applying it gently to your closed eyelids. Generally, a cool water compress will feel the most soothing, but you also can use a warm compress if that feels better to you. If pink eye affects only one eye, don’t touch both eyes with the same cloth. This reduces the risk of spreading pink eye from one eye to the other.
  • Try eye drops. Nonprescription eye drops called artificial tears may relieve symptoms. Some eyedrops contain antihistamines or other medicines that can be helpful for people with allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Stop wearing contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses, you may need to stop wearing them until your eyes feel better. How long you’ll need to go without contact lenses depends on what’s causing your conjunctivitis. Ask your health care provider whether you should throw away your disposable contacts, as well as your cleaning solution and lens case. If your lenses aren’t disposable, clean them thoroughly before reusing them.

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Can Visine be used for pink eye?

No! Whatever kind of pink eye you have, don’t use red-reducing eye drops, like Visine. These kinds of eye drops may be very uncomfortable if you have an infection. They also could make your symptoms worse.

Viral and bacterial pink eye can spread very easily—as easily as the common cold. If you have an infection in just one eye, be careful not to spread it to the other eye. And be careful not to spread the infection in public, either.

What is commonly misdiagnosed as pink eye?

It’s common to mistake allergies, styes, iritis, keratitis, and blepharitis for pink eye, but they can have different causes and require different treatments.

Common signs of pink eye:

  • Pink or red color in the white of the eye(s)
  • Swelling of the conjunctiva (the thin layer that lines the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid) and/or eyelids.
  • Increased tear production.
  • Feeling like a foreign body is in the eye(s) or an urge to rub the eye(s)
  • Itching, irritation, and/or burning.

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Pink eye vs allergies

The main difference between allergies and pink eye is the cause of the inflammation. Pink eye is actually an infection that may either be caused by bacteria or a virus. Allergies, on the other hand, are triggered by such irritants as pets or pollen.

Differences: Intense itching of the eyes is a symptom only associated with eye allergies. Pink eye caused by viral conjunctivitis often starts in one eye and spreads to the other, while eye allergies usually affect both eyes at once.

How to prevent the spread of pink eye

Preventing the spread of pink eye: Basic hygiene is enough to keep from spreading the infection to other people or your other eye.

  • Change pillowcases and sheets every day.
  • Use a fresh towel every day.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after you touch your eyes.
  • Don’t wear your contact lenses until your eyes are back to normal.
  • Don’t share anything that touches your eyes.

Can I use breast milk for pink eye?

Breastmilk could be more harmful than helpful for pink eye. One of the few studies on whether breast milk can fight infections found that it didn’t cure the most common causes of pink eye — and worse, breastmilk can introduce new bacteria into the eye and cause serious infection.

Eye infections in young children can be very serious—even blinding. Don’t delay seeing a doctor and don’t rely only on folk remedies.

There is lots of bad advice about pink eye on the internet. Never put anything in your eye that isn’t approved by a doctor. Foods and herbal extracts are not sterile and can make eye conditions much worse. Bloggers who recommend breast milk for pink eye say that substances in breast milk can cure infection and soothe inflammation. But there is no evidence that this helps. 

Measles and pink eye

Because measles is making a comeback among unvaccinated children, it’s important to know that pink eye can be a symptom of measles. Pink eye can show up before a measles rash or at the same time. Ask these questions about whether pink eye may be a sign of measles:

  1. Is there a reported outbreak of measles in the area?
  2. Has the child been vaccinated for measles? If so, then measles conjunctivitis is very unlikely.
  3. Are there other measles symptoms, like a red, blotchy rash or a high fever (above 104 degrees Farenheit/40 Celsius)? Note that other kinds of pink eye can also cause fever, especially in children. So a mild fever, or fever by itself, isn’t necessarily a sign of measles.
  4. Is the child sensitive to regular, indoor light? Light-sensitivity is more likely to be a sign of measles-related pink eye. Sensitivity to indoor light is always a sign of a serious eye condition, usually involving sight-threatening damage to the cornea. You should see an ophthalmologist, not just a primary care doctor or pediatrician.

If you think you or a loved one may have measles-related pink eye, see an ophthalmologist right away and make sure they report it to local health authorities. In some cases, measles can damage the cornea, retina or optic nerve and result in vision loss or blindness.