Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye that makes the eye appear red or "pink." Sometimes it causes a discharge that can leave a crustiness on the eyelids and lashes. Depending on the type of conjunctivitis you have, you may be able to treat it at home.
If you have an allergic conjunctivitis or viral conjunctivitis, you can treat those symptoms at home without the need of any antibacterial drops. If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, you have to get drops from the doctor to clear the infection. The only way to know what you have is to make a trip to the doctor. Once you know what you're up against, here are 6 things you can try at home to relieve your sore eyes.
1. Compress. The American Academy of Ophthamology (AAO) says that warm and cold compresses can help remove the crusty goo and help alleviate any itchiness and soreness that may accompany your pink eye. If you are suffering from allergic conjunctivitis, a cold compress is recommended. For a viral one, use a warm compress. Because pink eye spreads so easily, be sure to use separate clothes for each eye and always use a new cloth for each treatment.
2. Eye drops. To get some added lubrication, the AAO says to use some artificial tears eye drops. Be careful to avoid the red-reducing drops as these will irritate your eyes and may make the problem worse.
3. Contacts. If you wear contacts, the Mayo Clinic says to stop wearing them as soon as you discover you have pink eye. If you wear disposable contacts, you'll need to throw away the infected pair. If you wear hard contacts, be sure to disinfect them before you put them back into your eyes.
4. Makeup. Any eye makeup you were using before you started with the pink eye has to be thrown away, says the Mayo Clinic. Because pink eye is so easy to transfer, you have to get rid of anything that may contain the virus. Don't share eye makeup with others -- ever.
5. Tea bags. An old home remedy that people swear by is placing a cooled tea bag on the infected eye. ABSOLUTE health states that there is no proof to show that it works, but it doesn't appear to cause any harm, so you may want to try it if you're really uncomfortable. A. Vogel reminds you to use a separate tea bag for each eye and recommends using chamomile tea.
6. Honey. Another home remedy recommended by A. Vogel is making a honey compress. It is also untested, so whether it works or not is uncertain. You are to combine 1 cup of Manuka honey with 5 cups of boiling water. Once the mixture has cooled, soak a clean, cotton cloth in it and wring it out. Place the cloth on the infected eye. Repeat the treatment with a clean cloth for the other eye.
Because pink eye is so highly contagious, be careful to wash your hands and never share compresses from one eye to the other. Treating allergic and viral conjunctivitis simply takes time and patience. You can help yourself by taking proper precautions and doing what you can to make your eyes comfortable as they heal.