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How to Treat Pink Eye at Home

Updated on April 26, 2012

What is Pink Eye?

Pink Eye is the common term for Conjunctivitis. It is when the white membranes of the eye appear red and the eye lids are sometimes swollen and pink. It is caused by many things but is most often caused by a virus or a bacterial infection. The symptoms may vary by the type, but they always include redness of the eye and eye area.

Viral Pink Eye

The viral form of pink eye is the most common and is usually accompanied with an underlying illness that is similar to a cold. The viral form is most common in early spring and late fall. This form of pink eye is often associated with a watery discharge. There isn't much that can be done with the viral form except to rest and clean the eye on a regular basis. You basically need to wait for your body to fight off the virus, but you can always take medication to help alleviate the symptoms.

Bacterial Pink Eye

The bacterial form of pink eye is less common, but is more treatable from home. This form acts rapidly and has more severe symptoms. A bacterial pink eye will show its self with eye pain, itching, redness, swelling and thick yellowish/greenish discharge. A common sign of pink eye is when you wake in the morning and find your eye is stuck shut due to dried discharge. This is a more uncomfortable form, but it is more treatable from home.

Shopping List

  • Antibacterial Soup
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Baby Shampoo (Safe for Eyes)
  • Antibacterial Wipes
  • Tissue
  • Artificial Tear Drops

Preparing you Home

Pink eye is very contagious so if you have someone with pink eye living in your home you will want to make certain preparations during and while you treat the eye. The most important thing is to make sure you don't infect anyone else and you don't re-infect yourself. It is important that you disinfect commonly touched items with antibacterial soup and practice good hand washing habits. You will also want to consider washing towels and bedding to make sure you don't re-infect the eye. It is also important for the person who is infected to avoid touching their face. If they must touch their face they should wash their hands immediately afterwards. This will help prevent the spread of germs in the home.

Treating Pink Eye from Home

All this information on how to treat pink eye from home was provided to me by a licensed doctor. I have recently had a run in with pink eye and opted to treat my eye from home and not start a antibacterial eye drop regiment. The methods below are the home treatments my doctor suggested that I try. It is very important that you know that I am not a doctor and if your symptoms do not diminish within 48 hours you should consult your doctor. These methods of treating pink eye from home will only work on the bacterial form of pink eye. If you have the viral form you should rest and take medication for symptoms, but you will need to wait and allow your body to fight the virus.

Quick Tips

  • Do not cover the eye. Covering the eye may make things worse. Bacteria like to grow in warm, dark and moist environments. When you cover the eye you are creating an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow.
  • Do not wear eye makeup and throw away all makeup that you may have used since.
  • Don't touch your eye with your fingers, use a tissue and dispose of the tissue.
  • Try using artificial tear drops to alleviate some of the itching and burning. Throw them away when you no longer need them. You should not use the eye drops for more than a few days.
  • Wash or change your pillowcase daily.
  • Do not put essential oils in your eye. Most essential oils are not controlled by the FDA and are only meant for skin and some shouldn't be used at all.
  • Lastly, if you wear contacts you will need to remove them and throw them away. Do not soak them and think it is okay to put them back in your eye. Hopefully, you have an emergency pair of glasses for when you can't wear your contact lenses. You should also wait a few days after the pink eye has cleared up to make sure you don't infect another pair of contacts.

Cleaning the Eye

The first thing that you should do is clean the eye. You can do this by applying a small amount of baby shampoo in your hand. Mix the shampoo with water in your hand and gently rinse the eye out. This may burn slightly; so be ready to feel uncomfortable. When you have finished rinsing the soapy water into the eye wash the soap off your hands and begin to rinse the eye with regular tap water. You should continue to rinse the eye until all the soap is rinsed out. You should do this in the morning and in the evening. When you have completed washing the eye you should dry it with a disposable paper towel. Be sure to pat the eye and not wipe the eye so they you can avoid scratching it. When you have dried your eye be sure to throw the paper towel away and wash your hands with antibacterial soup.

Drawing the Infection Out

To help draw the infection out of the eye you will need to apply a hot compress to the eye 5 to 6 times a day. Applying a hot compress involves placing a warm towel up to the eye and holding it there. You repeat this process several times a day. Below you will find more detailed instructions on how to apply a hot compress to the eye:

  1. Wet a cloth with warm to hot water. The hotter the water the better, but be careful not to use water that will burn your eye or skin.
  2. Now squeeze the excess water from the cloth and apply the wet cloth to your open eye.
  3. Leave the cloth on the eye for 10 minutes or until the water becomes cold.
  4. Wait several minutes and repeat the steps above two more times.
  5. When you are done pat the eye dry and place the towel somewhere where no one will use it. Do not use the same towel twice.
  6. The more often you can perform a hot compress, the more effective it becomes. Try to do this as often as possible, but 5 to 6 times a day should work fine.

Pink Eye Treatment At Home

By washing the eye and applying a hot compress to the eye you should be able to treat pink eye from home. However, if your eye does not appear to be getting better within 48 hours you should see your doctor. Pink eye isn't something you should mess around with. A sever bacterial infection can impact your eye sight and can cause other problems.


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    • Mastpunjabi profile image

      Mujeeb Khan 5 years ago from India

      Thanks for highlighting this. Nice and useful information is available in your hub.

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We've had pink eye at our home before. Definitely not a pleasant condition. No one wanted my husband at work when he contracted it. Your home treatment methods would have made him a lot more comfortable and probably would have cured it faster. Very informative and well laid out hub. Voted up!