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The Best Home Remedy for Pink Eye

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 05/12/2024

Pink eye is an irritating infection that can cause significant eye discomfort. Not only can it interrupt your daily routine, but it can also persist for several weeks if left untreated.


Discover the best home remedy for pink eye and learn how to prevent it from spreading. 


Watery eye red and inflamed

What is pink eye?


Pink eye, medically referred to as conjunctivitis, is caused by an inflamed conjunctiva. This transparent mucous membrane surrounds and protects the outer surface of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids


While most cases are caused by microbial infection, pink eye can also be triggered by an allergic reaction.


Viral vs. bacterial pink eye 

Viral pink eye is attributed to the adenovirus, the same virus behind the common cold. While there are approximately 100 different strains of this virus, around 50 of them are associated with causing viral pink eye.


Common pink eye symptoms linked to viral infection include watery discharge, redness, and swelling, and typically affect both eyes. Viral pink eye is often accompanied by a respiratory illness such as a cold or sinus infection. 


Bacterial pink eye is typically caused by exposure to bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae, and may affect one or both eyes.


Symptoms include thick, yellow-green discharge that can crust over the eyelashes, itchiness, and swelling around the eyes. 


According to recommendations published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more severe symptoms of pink eye include eye pain, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and intense redness. 


If you or a family member experience any symptoms associated with pink eye, seek immediate medical care, as extreme cases can lead to potential blindness, particularly in infants. 


Watch this video to learn more about one of the best natural remedies for pink eye.

Best Natural Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) Remedy

What are the symptoms of pink eye?


In most cases, the symptoms of conjunctivitis are similar, although they may vary in severity and depending on the cause.


Here are common symptoms of pink eye: 

  • Red or bloodshot eyes

  • Swelling of the eyelids

  • Itchy eyes

  • Persistent stinging or irritation

  • Watery eyes 

  • Thick, clear discharge seeping from the eyes

  • Green or yellow discharge 

  • Crusty eyes


Zinc and nutrient-rich foods

The best home remedy for pink eye 


Most healthcare providers prescribe antibiotic eye drops and steroids and recommend over-the-counter pain medications to manage symptoms. 


However, antibiotics and steroids can disrupt the body's microbiome, a key player in regulating immune system function. Repeated or prolonged use of these medications can increase the risk of pink eye due to impaired immune defenses, leaving the eye vulnerable to microbial infection. 


Unsurprisingly, many people now prioritize natural remedies, turning to conventional treatments as a last resort. 


Taking zinc is one of the best home remedies for pink eye, especially as a preventative measure.


"Zinc can be crucial in managing viral conjunctivitis as it helps prevent the reproduction of the virus in its early stages," explains Dr. Berg.


It’s generally recommended that adults take around 50 milligrams of zinc per day to manage or prevent viral conjunctivitis. However, dosage requirements may vary depending on factors such as age, sex, and overall health status.


It’s crucial to take zinc supplements with food as it can cause nausea and vomiting if taken on an empty stomach. 


Colloidal silver eye drops

Other pink eye remedies 


In addition to zinc supplementation, other effective pink eye home remedies can help alleviate discomfort and promote recovery.


Here are four natural treatments for conjunctivitis.


1. Colloidal silver

"Despite a common belief that there's no research backing its use, significant research confirms that colloidal silver is a potent antimicrobial agent that can safely be applied directly to the eye and has no side effects," says Dr. Berg.


Evidence published in Frontiers in Microbiology supports these claims and shows colloidal silvers' effectiveness against various microbes, including those linked to conjunctivitis.  


Additionally, research published in Antibiotics highlighted how silver ions help destroy bacteria by punctuating bacterial cell walls, which disrupt their ability to produce energy and multiply. 


When using colloidal silver as a remedy for conjunctivitis, it's commonly suggested to apply a few drops to each eye until symptoms improve. 


However, ensure the colloidal silver product is specifically formulated for eye use and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.


Although colloidal silver is considered safe and well tolerated by most people, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider to ensure it’s the best choice for you.

Tea bags on the eyes

2. Green tea bags

Green tea boasts antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that are beneficial for soothing common symptoms of pink eye.


To use green tea bags for pink eye relief, steep two organic green tea bags in hot water, let them cool to a comfortable temperature, and place them on closed eyelids for 10 to 30 minutes.


For the best results, opt for organic tea bags free from synthetic chemicals, bleach, or dyes to maximize the benefits of green tea while avoiding harmful chemicals.


3. Consume nutritious whole-foods

Avoid inflammatory foods high in sugar, harmful preservatives, and artificial ingredients. These foods can weaken immune defenses and contribute to inflammation, potentially increasing the risk and severity of eye infections. 


Following a nutritious diet such as Healthy Keto®, which prioritizes organic and non-GMO nutrient-rich produce, pasture-raised meat and dairy, oily fish, and healthy fats, can help support enhanced immune system function.


4. Take immune-boosting supplements

In addition to zinc, consider taking other immune system-boosting nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and D. These essential vitamins play a crucial role in supporting the body’s ability to detect and destroy potentially harmful microbes, including those linked to pink eye infections.


Checking the time on a watch

How long does it take to get rid of pink eye?


While allergic pink eye usually clears up within a day or two, bacterial and viral pink eye typically last much longer.


Viral pink eye often resolves itself within one to two weeks. However, if you catch it early, you may be able to resolve symptoms sooner by taking zinc supplementation, using colloidal silver, and strengthening immune defenses.


Bacterial conjunctivitis can last as long as three weeks if not managed with appropriate home remedies or medical treatment.


A sanitary environment and effective treatment regimen can clear up many cases of pink eye in as little as two to three days.

 

Women changing her pillowcase

How to prevent pink eye from spreading 


Unlike allergic conjunctivitis, both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious.


Here are a few tips to help prevent pink eye from spreading to your other eye or someone else:

  • Avoid touching your eyes

  • Keep surrounding areas clean

  • Change your pillowcases and sheets daily

  • Avoid eye makeup 

  • Avoid wearing contact lenses

  • Take zinc supplementation at the first sign of infection


before and after pinkeye healing

Key takeaways


The best home remedy for viral pink eye is zinc, and taking around 50 milligrams of zinc supplements daily at the first sign of infection can help manage symptoms and stop conjunctivitis from spreading.


In addition, using colloidal silver eye drops and applying green tea bags to the eyes can also help improve symptoms and speed up the recovery time of pink eye.



FAQ


1. What are the best home remedies for pink eye?

Taking 50 milligrams of zinc daily and using colloidal silver as eye drops are the best home remedies for pink eye, medically referred to as conjunctivitis.


Additionally, if you wear contact lenses, opting for glasses during active infection is recommended, as contact lenses can worsen pink eye symptoms. 


2. How long is pink eye contagious?

Most cases of pink eye are contagious for up to 12 days, and symptoms can last as long as three weeks.


3. What is the main cause of pink eye? 

Viral and bacterial infections are the leading causes of pink eye. In some cases, allergic reactions can also cause conjunctivitis, which can typically be managed with allergy eye drops. 


4. What does the first stage of pink eye look like?

Early pink eye symptoms include redness, swelling, itching or irritation, increased tearing, and light sensitivity.


5. How can you tell if pink eye is viral or bacterial? 

Viral conjunctivitis is characterized by watery discharge and redness. In contrast, bacterial conjunctivitis produces thicker, yellow-green discharge, more pronounced eyelid crusting, and itchiness.


6. Can eye drops help manage pink eye symptoms?

While artificial tears can be effective in soothing pink eye symptoms, certain eye drops contain vasoconstrictors such as tetrahydrozoline or naphazoline, potentially worsening conjunctivitis symptoms.



Sources


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/about/treatment.html 

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110546/

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315945/

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