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Health, Home, and Happiness: Clearing Pink Eye, Naturally

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clearing Pink Eye, Naturally

A few weeks ago I woke up with blurry vision, not being able to make out the numbers on the alarm clock.  Looking in the mirror confirmed what I had expected, conjunctivitis (pink eye).  It's been 'going around', or so I heard when I called to cancel holiday get-togethers and appointments.  I remembered that in How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, Dr. Mendelsohn had suggested that just washing outside the eye area with pure water would be plenty to recover from conjunctivitis for most people. On page 158 he says, "In most cases your child's conjunctivitis will respond to gentle cleansing of the eyes with boiled (but not hot) water and a clean cloth."  He states that a trip to the doctor isn't necessarily immediately upon catching pink eye, though if the discharge persists for several days despite your efforts, a doctor visit and antibiotic drops may be warranted.

I tried his method of just using plain water, though I do have a supply of breast milk (also sterile) that I could have used if needed.  Honestly, I didn't boil the water, but used warm water from the tap, twice or three times a day, and rinsed my face well in the shower.  It seemed to work well, my right eye was affected first, and it was the worst on Tuesday and got progressively better until Friday when it was gone.  It did move to the left eye on Friday, but again with the same treatment was gone by Sunday morning.

My baby (13 months, who sleeps with me and is generally around me at all times) got a little crusty one day. I took him in the shower with me and cleaned the outside of his eyes well with a wet wash cloth and he seemed fine after that.  I was surprised that my 3-year-old (who isn't nursing any more) and husband didn't get so much as a hint of pink eye.

I didn't have pain associated with it, but if I did I would have treated with plain aspirin.

Conjunctivitis precautions that I took:
  • Pink eye is super contagious, so you do want to limit contact with people. You look awful and they aren't going to be around you anyway ~wink~
  • I normally re-use a wash cloth and towel for a week, hanging to dry between uses. I made sure to not use mine for the kids and I washed everyone's in hot water (we normally wash everything but diapers on cold) after each use while I had symptoms.
  • Eating well doesn't hurt, we ate a lot of homemade soup and squash, using coconut oil liberally.  I tend to focus on nutrition more than supplements or megadoses of vitamins to prevent illness.  Read about that in Eating to Stay Healthy This Winter
  • I upped the amount of fresh juice that we consumed.
What do you think? I remember being surprised when I read that pinkeye doesn't automatically warrant a trip to the doctor.  If I remember correctly from when I was a child, even with the antibiotic drops, it still took a couple days to clear, so my home remedy was just as effective and doesn't have side effects as antibiotic drops do.

Part of Finer Things Friday since home remedies that work, skipping trips to the doctor, and avoiding unnecessary medications really are finer things!
(part of Fight Back Friday) I am a Food RENEGADE!



Blogger Mary Ann said...

This is good to know! I worked in day care for quite a few years and always thought antibiotics were the only way to get rid of it. I'm writing this down to come back to if my husband or I get pink eye. This would be so much less expensive than the doctor visit and drops that we paid for last time he had pink eye.

January 27, 2010 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Nadine said...

Breast milk has been my secret weapon...shhh...don't tell my older

January 27, 2010 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger stacey said...

welll, interesting! i am certainly guilty of a quick call to the doc for pink eye simply b/c i don't want it to be the cause of missed school/work or to spread! that being said, i might be willing to try this method next time.

January 27, 2010 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Evelyn said...

I have found that rubbing coconut oil on the outside of the eye is also an effective way to clear up the infection.

January 27, 2010 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Turtle Oak said...

Years ago my kids got pink eye and I had them lie down w/ a warm washcloth that had 1 or 2 drops lavender oil in it - worked almost immediately!

January 27, 2010 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Cara said...

Love to see all these simple remedies!

January 27, 2010 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger babydoc said...

Abit random, but I thought it was really cute how you call it pink eye. I've never heard that before. Over here, we anglos call it red eye...

I wonder if it's an American phrase or if those outside English hospitals also refer to it as pink eye, I'll have to ask around now:-)

Glad you got it clear without doctors.

January 27, 2010 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Raine Saunders said...

Hi Cara - I had conjunctivitis last summer at the same time I also had a raging sinus infection. It was a particularly resilient infection, and it took awhile for it to clear. I eliminated both infections naturally - the sinus and the conjunctivitis. I used a home-made saline mixture for awhile, which didn't really help a lot, but then someone at the health food store told me to buy a small amount of goldenseal (it's really expensive per pound, but if you buy a half an ounce or so, it's only about a dollar or two). Take it home and make a tea by boiling water with a pinch of the goldenseal. Then when it's done boiling, strain out the goldenseal powder with cheesecloth and put it in a container such as a glass jar. Then, dip a cottonball in the solution (I poured a small amount in a bowl from the jar). Wipe the cottonball over your eye several times while it is closed and then over and under while open. I used a different cottonball for each eye.

I stored mine in a glass jar in the refrigerator. I'm not sure how long you should keep it around as it does develop "cultures" after about a day or so. I just kept making the tea daily and using it three or four times a day (or less, depending on how severe your infection is), until it was gone.

Here's the link to how I cured my sinus infection too:

It really can be done naturally!

January 28, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger EllaJac said...

Thank you for visiting my blog! A couple years ago I woke up with a for-sure case of pink eye. I was nursing daughter #3, and tried the breast milk thing, albeit with some trepidation.. I had almost IMMEDIATE relief, irritation-wise, and following up with a couple more applications through the day, it was completely gone! Amazing, fantastic, healthy, easy, and CHEAP! :D

January 28, 2010 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Juanita said...

I'd say you're on the right track. I read Confessions of a Medical Heretic when it first came out about 30 years ago and it set me on a good path with giving natural remedies a try first.

January 28, 2010 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Silver is our weapon of choice for pink eye. Put a few drops in your eye and blink a couple of times. Do this about four times during the day. We have always been cleared up by the next day.

January 29, 2010 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Amy @ Finer Things said...

Good to know. We haven't dealt with pink-eye at our house... yet!

January 30, 2010 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger rebeccah said...

I always try to avoid antibiotics... We have only had pink eye once, many years ago. I ran out and got the prescriptions.. I had no idea that it could be cleared by simply washing the eye! Great tip, thanks :-)

January 31, 2010 at 10:22 AM  

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