• Quick Home Remedies for Pink Eye

    Written By: Dan Gudgel
    Reviewed By: William Barry Lee MD
    Sep. 22, 2017

    Whether you can take care of pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis) at home depends on what kind of pink eye you have and how bad it is. Most pink eye will go away on its own in a week or two.

    If one or both of your eyes are red and uncomfortable, first see if you can tell whether it’s 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.

    You should 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.

    What You Can Do at Home for Pink Eye

    If you wear contact lenses, you should stop wearing them while you have pink eye. Make sure to clean your contacts thoroughly before you do start to wear them again. Better yet, get new contacts.

    You should also stop wearing eye makeup while you have an infection. Throw out your old eye makeup and get new makeup once your eyes are healthy.

    Bacterial and Viral Pink Eye Home Remedies

    Viral pink eye is like a common cold. There is no treatment for the virus and usually you just have to let it run its course. Viral pink eye should go away within a week or two on its own.

    Bacterial pink eye 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:

    • Put a warm, damp washcloth over your eyes for a few minutes
      • To make a warm compress, soak a clean, lint-free washcloth in water then wring it out so it’s not dripping.
      • Use a clean washcloth each time so you don’t spread the infection.
      • If you have infectious pink eye in both eyes, use a different washcloth for each eye.
    • Take ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain killer
    • Use over-the-counter lubricating eyedrops (artificial tears)

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

    Allergic Pink Eye Home Remedies

    If your conjunctivitis is caused by allergies, stopping the source of the allergy is important. The irritation 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 pink eye and no one else will catch it. To reduce the symptoms of allergic pink eye you can:

    • Take allergy medication or use allergy eye drops
    • Put a cool, damp washcloth over your eyes for a few minutes
    • Use over-the-counter lubricating eyedrops (artificial tears)

    What Not to Do If You Have Pink Eye

    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.

    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

    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 things much worse.