We’ve all been there. Your child’s eyes are red and goopy, so you immediately rack your brain for easy pink eye remedies. You’re not sure if you need to take your little one to the pediatrician or if it’s something that could be handled at home.
Conjunctivitis, commonly called “pink eye,” can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens or other irritants (1). Conjunctiva are the thin membranes that line the inner eye lids and the white part of the eye (2). When conjunctiva become inflamed, they appear red and irritated. Conjunctivitis can cause itching, pain, and can be associated with extra tearing, crusting, and discharge from the affected eye(s).
Our integrative family physicians detail the different types of conjunctivitis and four natural pink eye remedies for optimal eye health.
Types of Pink Eye
These two types should be treated medically.
Bacterial conjunctivitis (Bacterial pink eye)
This tends to start in one eye and may spread to the other. The whites of the eyes will be VERY red and there can be quite a bit of yellow-green discharge and crusting from the eye (3). There may be sensitivity to light, and even pain in the eye with bacterial conjunctivitis. It is rather contagious, but responds really well to antibiotic eye drops, which is the treatment of choice.
Chemical conjunctivitis (Chemical pink eye)
This is conjunctivitis caused by a chemical irritant that has touched the eye. Most cases of true chemical conjunctivitis require an immediate evaluation, though flushing the eyes with saline rinse right away is also very important.
Other Strands of Pink Eye
These two strands can be treated by home remedies (4).
Viral conjunctivitis (Viral pink eye)
When caused by viruses, conjunctivitis tends to involve both eyes, although it may start briefly in one eye first. The whites of the eyes are usually not as beefy red as with bacterial conjunctivitis. Although, there may be similar discomfort with light sensitivity and mild pain. Discharge is usually not as copious as with bacterial conjunctivitis, but there can be some white or yellow discharge present. Natural remedies tend to work well for viral conjunctivitis, as viruses don’t respond to antibiotic drops and otherwise, would just be running its course (5).
*One virus that can be pretty dangerous if it comes near or in the eye is HSV (the virus that causes cold sores). If there are blisters around the eye with signs of redness in the eye, it is best to see an ophthalmologist immediately for treatment.
Allergic conjunctivitis (Allergic pink eye)
When allergies cause conjunctivitis, it can cause some redness, itchiness, and overall irritation. There can be excessive tearing, but not usually much discharge. Allergic conjunctivitis responds well to natural treatments, but it is also important to try to identify the allergens and eliminate them if possible. You can stop environmental allergens like pollen from being a trigger. Try to keep windows closed during the spring, keep shoes out of the house, and make sure to have a bath or shower before getting in bed. For dust mites, vacuuming weekly and washing bedding in hot water weekly can help.
Natural Remedies for Pink Eye
- Saline eye drops
A preservative-free saline eye drop or eye rinse on irritated eyes can help flush allergens and irritants out, providing some relief. The nice thing about saline is that you can use it as much as needed to help with the symptoms.
- Warm or cool compresses
A warm wet washcloth placed over the eyes can provide some relief if eyes are uncomfortable. This same washcloth can wipe off any crusted tears or discharge as well. Use a clean washcloth every time so that you don’t continue to spread the infection if the conjunctivitis is caused by a virus or bacteria. A cool, wet washcloth can help relieve itchiness associated with allergic conjunctivitis.
- Lavender essential oil AROUND the eyes (NEVER IN the eyes)
Dilute some pure lavender essential oil and apply around the eye. Keep it at least a ½ inch distance from the eye itself (over the brow bone, below the cheekbone). This can provide some relief for itching, and even has some properties to help with viral conjunctivitis symptoms.
- Numedica Seasonal Shield
D-HistSeason Shield is a natural supplement that has antihistamine properties. It can be really helpful for those who suffer from allergic conjunctivitis to take this regularly. With ingredients like Bromelain and Quercetin, it can really help to mute that histamine response.
*Important note: Whether it is a child, teen, or adult with pink eye, stop wearing contact lenses immediately upon any signs or symptoms.
When Pink Eye Needs Medical Attention
While most cases of conjunctivitis resolve on their own or with some simple natural remedies, certain cases require medical attention. We would recommend being seen right away if:
- There is swelling around the eye, or the eye cannot be opened because it is so swollen
- There is pain upon moving the eyes around
- There are blisters around the eye(s) associated with the redness
- The redness appeared after some sort of chemical exposure
- Vision is blurry
- Eye pain is intense
Want to dive deeper?
While pink eye is typically a temporary issue, your child might be struggling with other health or developmental road blocks. With a unique diagnostic process, our integrative doctors guide your child to their best self. By connecting the dots of their health and history, we will shape a unique treatment plan because no two children are the same. We lead you in the implementation, and monitor the results to optimize the plan according to your child’s needs.
What will you find as a patient at our office?
- Longer appointments with your provider
- Advanced technology and integrative lab testing
- Conventional and holistic treatment options
- Personalized treatment plans
- Direct access to your provider
- A complete menu of traditional and holistic health and spa services
As you can see, at CentreSpringMD, we are committed to a new model of medicine with true patient centered, collaborative care – a safe place for your child to get the care they deserve.
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