Last Modified on Apr 19, 2016
What Is Viral Conjunctivitis?
Often considered an early childhood issue, viral conjunctivitis can actually affect an individual of any age; however, it is often caused by the entrance of bacteria into the eye by touching or rubbing the face, hence why it is common in children. Nonetheless, conjunctivitis, or pink eye as it is more commonly known, is the inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that outlines the eyelid and conceals the white part of the eyeball. Due to this inflammation and infection, the small blood vessels in the membrane become more visible, causing the white of the eyes to appear pink or reddish in color.
Pink eye has fairly common and easy to identify symptoms; however, the causes of the condition vary greatly. Common symptoms include a pink to red color in one or both eyes, itchiness in one or both eyes, a gritty or dirty feeling in the eyes, discharge or “gunk” that becomes crusty overnight and may make opening the eye difficult. Pink eye may also include excessive tearing as the body’s natural response to “cleanse” the eye.
How Long Is Pink Eye Contagious?
To answer the oft-asked question of how long is pink eye contagious, it is typically considered contagious as long as the eye continues to tear and produce discharge – generally 3 to 7 days. The causes of pink eye can range from a slight infection to an environmental issue. Common causes include virus, bacteria, allergies, chemical or foreign substance splashed in the eye, and a blocked tear duct, specifically in babies.
Home Remedies for Pink Eye
While conjunctivitis typically causes no permanent issue and is rarely a dire health concern, treatment is often needed to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms associated with the condition. Many natural options offer immediate relief and speed the healing process. Activated charcoal diluted in boiling water and strained can be used as an eye drop several times a day to clear the eyes. Likewise, apple cider vinegar swabbed on the outside of the eye removes germs and heals the eye as well. Additional options include colloidal silver, green and black tea bags used as a warm compress and seas salt diluted in water. Keep reading below for many more suggestions from Earth Clinic readers!
Remedies for Pink Eye
The Popularity of Pink Eye Remedies - Full List
Doctors Agatha and Calvin Thrash in their book "Natural Remedies"
1. Charcoal poultices should be applied overnight. Mix powdered charcoal with water sufficient to make a thick paste and spread it over a piece of flannel or muslin larger than the inflamed area of the eye. Place this over the eye. Cover with a piece of plastic or similar material and hold in place with an ace bandage wrapped lightly around the head. The bandage should not be so tight that it puts pressure on the eyeballs, but it must be snug enough to hold the compress in place overnight. Remove it in the morning, and dispose of the compress in a manner to avoid spreading the infection.
2. Charcoal slurry water eye drops may be used during the day. To make the drops boil one cup of water with one-fourth teaspoon salt (suggest Real Salt, celtic, sea salt as better than table salt) and one teaspoon powdered charcoal. When cool, strain through several layers of cheesecloth. Using a dropper, put four or five drops of the clear fluid in the affected eye every two hours.
An village with 1,000 people in Papua New Guinea had members in most families infected. They found this remedy 10 times more effective than antibiotics. A relative registered nurse suggests this to us family members.
Replied by Francisca
Replied by Holly
YEA (1) 100%Posted by Severe Pink Eye Sufferer (Winkler, Manitoba, Canada) on 12/07/2015
[YEA] I have been in extreme pain due to pink eye for the fourth day. The eyes themselves as well as the lids and skin around the eye are extremely affected. I started on the first day with antibiotic eye drops from the pharmacy. I used these for about a day and a half. It got even worse with these drops, it was so bad that the seeping from my eyes was orange in colour. My eyeballs were dark red... I realized that this was not working and so I bought Visine 8 symptom eye relief drops as well as a Visine antihistamine drop. I used these for the next two days with no relief except that my eyes stopped with the orange/reddish mucus seeping. But the lids and the skin around my eye were still burning with pain and I had huge sacks of liquid forming under my eyes.
I tried cool wash cloths, warm wash cloths and putting a aloe skin softener on but all of these gave me very brief periods of relief.
This morning my eyes were almost completely swollen closed and stuck shut. I was crying because of the pain. I called to speak to a pharmacist but he was not available so that's when I googled home remedies for pink eye. Holy cow am I glad I did!!!
1. First I took a cotton pad and dipped it into Apple Cider Vinegar and pressed them onto the eye so that the ACV ran into my eye. I could feel relief immediately But not for all the symptoms I was having.
2. Then I put green tea bags (which I had boiled in a cup of water and then put them in the freezer to cool) onto each eye and let the liquid run into my eyes. I did this until the tea bags weren't cold anymore. I found this to be a big relief as well.
3. Then I dipped Qtips into liquid honey and put that onto my eyelids and lashes and the skin around my eyes. This helped a lot too. It is now about 2 1/2 hours later and I can feel the sand in the eye and the burning just starting to come back. I will now repeat all three things.
I cannot even express how much this has all helped!! Unbelievable!!!! From going completely crazy in pain to almost pain free in 3 simple steps!! Thanks to everyone who posted on each of these 3 remedies!! I will continue with these remedies and post again in a day or two with the results.
Apple Cider Vinegar Treatment for Viral Conjunctivitis
Home Remedy Ingredients
- Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar - 2 Teaspoons
- Filtered Water - 1 Cup
Mix 2 tsp of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in a cup of water. Dip a cotton pad or soft cloth in the solution to wash the eyelid inside and out. You can place a few drops of the water mixture in the eye as well. You should repeat this treatment every few hours until the conjunctivitis is completely healed. Usually that will take from 2-3 days.
YEA (32) 89% NAY (2) 6% SIDE EFFECTS (2) 6%
Earth Clinic's most popular natural remedy for conjunctivitis ("pink eye") is apple cider vinegar. Dozens of our readers have reported this cure. Most have been surprised at how quickly this treatment works!
YEA (1) 100%Posted by Ellie (Santa Rosa, Ca) on 09/02/2011
[YEA] Hi new friends,
Recently after days of air conditioned air I had a flareup of red eye which I had suffered from greatly in the past. It was progressively worsening.
On last Wed. Evening I was all but bleeding from swollen blood shot eyes. My vison has never been affected except trying to see through the sore, swollen, weeping awful looking stringy mess.
I read what you said Ted, about the body making alkalinity to address acidity. My tears were at 9ph. I tried a 7ph ACV/BS mix and it was soothing but didn't help the swelling.
I started and continue to drink 1 TBSP of ACV in water every 2-3 hours and included celery juice. I added a garlic remedy to it.
I crumpled a cabbage leaf in water for eye wash. It was 7ph and perfectly soothing. The swelling began to decline. I put two cabbage fresh leaves on my eyes under my linen sleep mask for two nights.
They are GETTING WELL. Tonight I went out in public and no one knew my former travail.
ACV and CABBAGE- who knew?
Thank you God and Thank you Ted and new friends
YEA (1) 100%Posted by Sandi (Orange County, Ca) on 09/19/2013
[YEA] I'm so thankful for this site. Last night at 1:30am, I woke up with a sharp stinging inner eyelid and large globs of yellow mucous seeping out of my eye. I found a couple of websites that stated natural remedies, so I combined them all. I boiled a cup of filtered water, steeped loose green tea leaves for 3 minutes, strained it, added about 2 tablespoons of organic ACV with mother, and constantly applied it to my eyes with cotton pads and swabs until I felt like it was a complete rinse. After the rinse, I applied organic coconut oil with a clean cotton swab to both eyes as a moisturizer and a salve. I went to bed at 3:30 with no more sharp pain in my eyes. In the morning, I woke up with very little yellow mucous. I am will repeat this rinse again because I'm only about 90% better, but one of those 3 cures (green tea, ACV, and organic coconut oil), if not all, began the healing of my eye pretty immediately.
YEA (1) 100%Posted by Pat (Desert Hot Springs, Ca) on 12/26/2015
[YEA] Thank you1 Ran to Rite Aid to purchase homeopathic remedy. Once aplied, did not seem to help but aggregated my swollen under eye and began turning black and blue. Remembered I had colloidal silver, applied but after a few application new pain developed and oozing. Finally I remembered EARTH CLINIC...great advise.
Used both the Apple cider vinegar with mother as often as possible with the green tea bag soak for pain. This came on by Christmas Dinner and ended by Day after Christmas lunch. Truly great....keep up the authentic healing!
YEA (1) 100%Posted by V (New York, NY) on 07/13/2009
[YEA] ACV works! I have had the most severe, persistent case of viral conjunctivitis/dry eye for probably over a year now. Anyone who's had it knows that it is a real pain to cure, and comes back VERY easily. I've been to the eye doctor twice in this time and had tests to make sure it's viral, not bacterial, and every time he's said it pretty much amounts to dry eye. And he's prescribed me an exorbitantly expensive, teeny tiny bottle of medication. It worked during the time it was prescribed, but as soon as I'd stop using it, the dry eye would come back full force. This most recent time it has been particularly stubborn. My doctor's gentle approach of "let it cure itself, and use cold/warm compresses and natural tears" was not at all working. I'd tried all that, and other over-the-counter eye drops for "persistent dry eye" and, I swear to you, none of it worked. The one red eye would NOT got away. SO frustrating. And I can't afford to drop tons of money on tiny bottles of medication that I probably shouldn't be using permanently anyway.
So yesterday I tried this: 5 parts water, 2 parts honey (best grade), and 1 part pure apple cider vinegar. I mixed it up, put it in an eyedropper, and started using it every few hours or so (more or less). Always, when I first put it in, it burns quite a bit and my eye waters uncontrollably, and then a minute later there's a noticeable difference. My eye gets whiter. I did it one last time before bed last night and when I woke up, there was much less redness. At the end of today (I've been using it a little less because I didn't need it as much), there is hardly ANY redness. Mind you, my results were not as instantaneous as some other people's, so I had to keep trying. But I am so pleased and can't believe something has finally worked! Yes!
YEA (1) 100%Posted by Kingq (Chonburi, Thailand) on 10/14/2013
[YEA] Yea for Apple Cider Vinegar and Sea Salt as remedies for Pink Eye. Did 1.5 days using the ACV method and then 1.5 days doing the sea salt treatment as it stung less than the ACV. Completely cleared up the pink eye.
YEA (2) 67% WARNING! (1) 33%Posted by Faye (Banning, California) on 05/19/2007
[YEA] When my daughter was young I read in a home remedy book to mix 1 part baby shampoo to 10 parts warm water. Use a cotton ball to clean outside of eye to remove mucus from lashes, then numerous times each day wash eye with same solution, warm is easier on the eye. It worked on my daughter each time. We now use it for the grandchildren when the need arises.
Replied by Erin
Replied by Alana
YEA (2) 100%Posted by Francisca (Michelbach-le-bas, France) on 01/29/2010
[YEA] I learned how to treat red eyes when my children were babies and I was living in Holland. Just take a piece of cotton wool, wet it in boiled, cooled water and with the eye closed wash it from de outside to the inside. Do this a couple of times every time using a clean piece of cotton wool. It worked for them every time and it has worked for me over the years as well. Usually doing this one or two times was enough.
EC: For those of us wondering what cotton wool is...
"Linters are traditionally used in the manufacture of paper and as a raw material in the manufacture of cellulose. In the UK, linters are referred to as "cotton wool". This can also be a refined product (absorbent cotton in U.S. usage) which has medical, cosmetic and many other practical uses. The first medical use of cotton wool was by Dr Joseph Sampson Gamgee at the Queen's Hospital (later the General Hospital) in Birmingham, England"
Replied by Ruma
YEA (1) 100%Posted by Amanda (Monterey, CA) on 03/01/2009
[YEA] Black tea and salt water cured my conjunctivitis.
Yesterday I woke up with a really itchy, bloodshot left eye and it got worse throughout the day. Then, this morning I woke up and my eye was all gooey, stuck together, swollen, and red. I never go to the doctor, even though my husband has great insurance, because I know all they do is prescribe antibiotics or some other pills from a laboratory and I do not want to mess up my body chemistry. So, naturally, I went to Earthclinic instead. First, I brewed two black tea bags in 1 1/2 cups of hot water. Meanwhile, I decided to try rinsing my eye with a concentrated solution of sea salt in warm water. I did not measure it, but it was quite a salty concoction. I used an eyedropper and put a few drops in my eye. It stung a lot, but I felt like it was working. Next, I used the eyedropper to drop warm black tea in my eye and it was SO soothing. It took all the stinging away! I then laid down and put the tea bag over my eye. Whenever it would cool down, I would put it back in the warm tea and put the other on on my eye. I repeated this procedure until the tea was cooled down. After that, I fell asleep again for an hour or so and when I woke up my eye felt and looked almost back to normal. Thanks Earthclinic!
Black Tea Bag
14 User Reviews | 10 YEA | 2 NAY Treatment
Black Tea Bag Folk Cure for Pink Eye
Make a cup of black tea and allow it to cool a bit. Apply the moist tea bag to your closed eye. Keep it in place for ten minutes or so. Repeat this pink eye treatment every few hours for the 1-3 days it will take to clear up the conjunctivitis.
YEA (10) 83% NAY (2) 17%Posted by Uvstarbaby (New Jersey) on 04/13/2015
[YEA] I woke up a couple of days ago with a case of pink eye that had come on board during another infection, involving sore throat, dry cough, raspy voice, body aches. It mainly affected my right eye, but some in the left, too. Really red, with profuse slimy discharge. I let it go a day to see if it would clear up, but it was just getting worse.
Suddenly, a light bulb came on to check EarthClinic for some remedies. At first I tried ACV mixed with water, which burned and seemed worse after a few hours. Then I tried colloidal silver, which gave no improvement after several hours. Then I tried organic peony white tea (because it's a type of green tea - young leaves), with no effect and it seemed even worse again. FINALLY, I tried black tea, the round tea bags, and there was almost instant relief and some clearing of redness over a few hours.
After the second application last night before bed, today it's gone in my left eye and practically gone in my right eye. I just did another application on both eyes and will likely do a couple more, to ensure it stays gone. It was easy and painless. Just like making a cup of tea, only I put the cooled teabag on my right eye, after squeezing some drops from it into my left. For subsequent applications, I used the cold tea in the cup, with clean cotton balls, squeezing drops in each eye, and cleaning my eyelashes and surrounding eye area with the tea soaked cotton balls. I'm grateful and my vision is still good--maybe a touch better. :) Thank you EarthClinic and everyone who has posted their experience here in order to help others. It worked!
Posted by Sonia (London, Uk) on 04/04/2014
[YEA] Thank you so much for the black teabag remedy for pink eye. It has helped me so much. I simply boiled a tea bag in some water let it cool until it was warmish. Put a Cotton wool in it and cleaned my sons eye with it about every hour until the redness reduced in both eyes. And it's working so well. He's almost 2 and I needed something quick and natural to soothe his eyes. Thank you!!
Posted by Mikethedruid (Providence, Rhode Island, Usa) on 10/04/2012
[YEA] For several days my left eye had been irritated and discharging a sticky mucus which coated the lashes, and only made the irritation worse. I had tried just rinsing the eye well with warm water, which provided temporary relief, but did not cure the problem. Then I remembered something that the man who taught me the old ways had taught me about medicine, and tried using strong tea as an eyewash. The easiest way, he had told me, was to brew yourself a cup of tea using a cheap regular black or brown tea. When the cup is brewed, take out the teabag, but do not squeeze the water out. While you enjoy your tea, let the teabag cool down until it is just barely warm, then place the teabag on the afflicted eye, and gently squeeze it whill slightly blinking the eye so that the tea gets right onto the eyeball itself, as well as the lids. Wipe the excess that runs down your face with a paper towel or cloth. Do this every time it feels at all irritated, and in a day or two the problem will clear up. I did exactly that, and it works very well. It is a cheap, painless, and effective cure.
Posted by Chef (San Diego, California) on 05/07/2012
[NAY] I was diagnosed with conjunctivitis and was not responding to antibiotics. I read the post and Black teabags made my eye worse. I actually ended up developing an ulcer on my cornea and I am now using vigamox. Vigamox works.
Posted by Morningstar (Winter Springs, Fl) on 04/11/2012
[YEA] The Day before yesterday I got into a car accident and was in an orthopedic office all day taking xrays. A few hours later my eyes began to itch, I thought it was just allergies, but then I woke up My left eye was goopy and red and my right eye was plastered shut. The top eyelid on the right was swollen as well. I figured.... Crap, its conjunctivitis. Seeing that I was just sitting in a doctors office all day monday, and I don't have insurance, I did not want to go into a walk in clinic. I took a look at the natural cures on here and decided to go with the black tea because I manage to choke apple cider vinegar down for various health benifits, but I cannot imagine putting it in my eye. I heated a cup of water up on the stove and put the black tea bag into it and let it soak for a few minutes... Then I added a few ice cubes to cool it down. I took a paper towel (we use all natural ones with no dyes or anything) and ripped a corner off and soaked it in the tea. I wiped the top eyelid a few times on each eye, then the bottom lid, then I resoaked in the tea and squeezed some of the liquid into the corner of my eye, tilted my head and blinked.
Not only did it get rid of the stickyness, but after doing that 4 times within the hour the swelling in my eyelid went down completely. I went out to run errands for a few hours, then repeated the process. This morning I woke up and took a look at my eyes and they looked fine. Just to be sure, I did it one more time before work and my eyes are crystal clear, and the redness and itchyness went away. :) Im very excited that this remedy works. This is much less expensive then a trip to the walk in, and the medicine they give you makes your vision blurry for awhile anyway. With the tea, you just sort of drip in it and get on with your life. Who would have known, just wonderful!