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Viral Conjunctivitis - Pink Eye

Last Modified on Nov 24, 2015

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!

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Most Popular Pink Eye Remedies:

Apple Cider Vinegar31
Colloidal Silver19
Green Tea Bags12
Black Tea Bag11
Sea Salt8
Coconut Oil5
Lemon Juice4
Boric Acid3
Breast Milk for Mucous in Baby's Eye3

User Reviews

Activated Charcoal
  User Ratings

Posted by Ky Mama (Clinton, Ky) on 11/24/2012

[YEA]  We have used charcoal for conjunctivits (pink-eye) many times. I have used this on myself and on my children, including little ones. I mix 1 T. of activated charcoal powder in 1 cup of boiled, cooled water. Then I strain it through a coffee filter. The resulting gray water should be kept in a clean jar. 2-4x a day, (definitely right before bed) drop one drop of the gray water into each eye (even if only one eye is infected... It is highly contagious. ) Even after infection has visibly healed, continue one drop a day for a few more days once a day to make sure. Even with one drop, lots of the water will come out of the eye... That is okay as long as at least some got into the eye. I use a drinking straw to get out some water from my jar if I do not have a clean eye dropper on hand. This week my four year old woke up with his eyes crusted shut. I cleaned them gently with a warm washcloth until he could open his eyes. All day his eyes were bloodshot and he had yellowish greenish discharge. 24 hours later, there was no sign of infection! Many years ago when my children had this I would have to pay for an office visit and an antibiotic; so grateful for this cheap, safe, easy alternative.

Replied by Teresa
Lutz, FL

I have used activated charcoal for many things over the years, and although the charcoal slurry drops can sometimes work for eye infections, I have found that colloidal silver is much quicker and has worked every time for every kind of eye irritation or infection, chilld or adult. 1 or 2 drops in the eyes a few times a day.
Replied by Michele
Richmond, VA

You drop the colloidal silver right in your eye? Does it sting?
Replied by Mama To Many Donate


Dear Michele,

When we have use colloidal silver in the eye, we have put a drop directly into the eye and we did not find it to sting.

~Mama to Many~

Posted by Buster (Edmonton, Alberta Canada) on 03/31/2009

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
Michelbach-le-bas, France

When on holidays in Tunisia I found out that the charcoal Arab and Indian women use inside their eyes is not only because it is beautiful but also against eye disease. As at the time I often had itchy eyes I decided to try and it worked, within a few minutes I felt a lot better. The only thing is that I don't manage to keep my eyes clean as it runs a bit and it makes my eyes rather black underneath. I don't know if this happens because I wear contact lenses.... Someone told me that in India you see a lot of children whose eyes are very black because the mothers use this on them in order to prevent illnesses. I wish I could have the line stay nicely all day like those women do but I have asked advice a few times and I never quite understand how they do it. I suppose that it will work for pink eye as well, in women of course.
Replied by Holly
Westminster, Co

First time having this and I must say, it is aweful. I have bought the charcoal for the remedies you mention but have two questions.

1. My slurry is not clear. It's still black after several times through the cheesecloth. Is this okay?

2. For the poultices, does the paste wrapped in flannel go directly on the closed eyes? And then the plastic on the otherside, or as a barrier between flannel and eye?

Thank you for your clarification and help.

Replied by Mama To Many Donate

Middle, Tennessee, Usa

Dear Holly, I use a coffee filter to strain my charcoal water. I put 1 t. charcoal in 1/4 cup of filtered water and strain it through a filter. It is gray and may have very tiny particles that are okay. I think cheesecloth would let through particles that are too large. They probably wouldn't be harmful, just irritating.

Also, for the poultice... Your eye is closed. Then paper towel or flannel. Then moistened charcoal. Then the plastic wrap to keep the moisture in. But you probably don't need the plastic wrap unless you are doing this overnight.

For conjunctivitis, we have always just done the filtered charcoal water 3-4 times a day. Children are usually cured in a day and adults in a couple of days. But do it a couple of a times a day for a few days after and always do both eyes to prevent reinfection.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Loretta
New Jersey, US

I had gotten some water splashed in my eyes while teaching a student how to wash their face... anyway.... my eye started itching the next day. Then two days later both eyes were goopy, swollen and itchy.... I have followed the instructions on this post and have been using the Apple Cider Vinegar for two days now. My eyes are still a little itchy day two however when I woke up this morning they weren't as goopy, swollen or itchy as the days prior. I see a big improvement. Also the eye that originally got splashed with water is no longer pink. I will continue to do this the rest of today and tomorrow so it will be a full 3 days like several people posted. I am so happy to not have had to go to the eye doctor and spend money I don't have and get antibiotics! Thanks!
Replied by Vonda
Miamisburg Ohio

Breast milk...dropped every hour in each eye....for pets and humans alike. Also cures diaper rash.

Apple Cider Vinegar
  User Ratings Treatment

Posted by Hannah (Centennial, Colorado) on 06/13/2015

[YEA]  Yesterday morning I woke up with a bad case of pink eye. I get pink eye a few times a year so by now, I know when I have it. Neither of my parents were in town so I couldn't go get medicine And I had a rather large event happening that night, thankfully I found earth clinic. I tried the ACV treatment and although it burned like hell, it worked its magic and by that night you almost couldn't tell I had ever had pink eye. Before I put in the ACV I would rinse my eye out with black tea, and treated my eye about 3 times. Today I keep treating it just to make sure it's gone but I am extremely thankful I found this site, it saved me!

Posted by Shalita (Jackson) on 05/02/2015

[YEA]  This is from the Bragg's apple cider vinegar book: 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar to 4oz of distilled water. page 71 "Apple Cider Vinegar." I boiled the distilled water, let it cool, add acv, then place in sterilized dropper or eye cup and submerge affected eye. Cleanse 2 to 3 times daily.

Posted by Ava R (St. Petersburg, Fl) on 02/20/2015

[YEA]  I had Pink eye and I had just changed Drs. So, my new Dr. would not prescribe me anything. Well, I did the ACV and water four times a day. I also used the green tea bags twice a day to help with the soreness and I wash my hands a lot and I cleaned my glasses with the ACV, to make sure I would not get it again. It took a little over a week, but I think it took that long because I look at a computer working, at least 7 hours a day. I LOVE this website.

Posted by Sunny (Ca) on 07/30/2014

[YEA]  Yes! it works!

My lil bro had an eye infection, I don't know what kind, maybe pink eye? It was really swollen. So I got the ACV the top part, ( not shucked, stable, so that I do not get the mother, and a mixed in a bit of drinking clean water in a mug, then maybe 40 acv, 60 water. Try your own, the more ACV the more the burn, but the more the potency.

We put it in an clean drop dropper, and I applied to his eye. Yes it stung, muaaahahah. But he took it like a man. I told him to apply twice + a day. It took off in like 4 days.

He did not have to spend money on going to the Dr. :) , and I got to experiment with his eye :). It was a win win lol. I have to say I was a bit unsure about it. Because well, its the eye.... But not anymore, if I ever have an eye infection, I will not hesitate to put it on my eye. :)

If your are scared, you can apply to out lid, I guess.

ACV rocks! I love you Earth Clinic <3

Reply to this if it works for you



Replied by Gator
Kamloops, Bc Canada

Sunny, you mean you actually put the ACV and water IN the eye? Wonder if it would work for cataracts?

Posted by Mrsg (Fl , Usa ) on 11/22/2013

[YEA]  I woke up one morning with pink eye. In a glass of water in put enough ACV to tint the water and placed drops of it into my eye. It was cleared up completely within two days.

Posted by Melba Toast (Alfred Station, Ny) on 10/12/2013

[YEA]  I contracted bacterial conjunctivitis Wednesday of this past week. It was probably caused by wearing my contacts longer than recommended and using an old mascara - both very stupid in hindsight. By Thursday morning, my eye was flame red - the conjunctiva and my entire eye. I couldn't even open my eye in the morning without prying it open - it was glued shut with gunk and dried goop. I was hideous. I was about to bite the bullet and spend the $20 copay to have my FNP tell me the obvious when I thought about apple cider vinegar with the mother that has saved me in the past for common ailments (UTI, yeast infection, etc. ) I wondered, "Are there claims that ACV cures pink eye?" Yes, several people had vouched for it. I mixed 5 parts water to 2 parts ACV and administered two drops in the afflicted eye four times within 2 days. Today is Saturday and my eye is clear and pain-free! ACV wins again!

Replied by Mlafay
Portland, Or

[YEA]   I've had viral conjunctivitis for a couple month's now. My doc said there was nothing out there that would "cure" it and to just let it run it's course - up to 3 months!

I just did the 5:1 ratio with ACV and it burned like hell for about 30 seconds - and wa-la! My vision cleared up - been blurry ever since I contracted this. And my redness went down considerably. I am so thankful I found this remedy!!

Posted by Kathy (La) on 08/06/2013

[YEA]  Just last night I started getting pink eye and put 1Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (with the mother) in a half cup of water and poured the concoction on two cotton balls and let it drip into each eye. It stung briefly but then felt better. As of tonight you wouldn't even know I had pink eye! It was amazing! I did this about three times today.

Posted by Heather (Birmingham, Al Usa) on 07/30/2013

I've been reading your website for cures for viral conjuctivitous and I am really interested in trying the Apple Cider Vinegar treatment with the mother. I am in a lot of pain and discomfort and need help. I want to try this remedy but I have absolutely no clue what the mother is. Please help!!

Replied by Michemax

Try washing your eye with a honey wash. Simply add a few drops (you can add more if you want it stronger) of honey to a little warm water, stir and using the cup of your hand, blink your eye over and over in the honey wash. Repeat 3 or 4 times. Do this at least 3 or 4 times during the day. Your eye will clear up.

I often use this as I get infections from when I use my contact lens.

Replied by Sarah
Vancouver, Bc

Heather, the 'mother' just means the ACV is organic or unpasterized.
Replied by Helen
London England

Hi, I had the same problem and googled it the mother I stuff that forms on the top of the cider In the brewing

Posted by Nathalie (West Orange, NJ, Usa) on 04/30/2013

[YEA]  Thank you so much earth clinic for the Apple Cider Vinegar remedy for pink eye. I've suffered for months with it and it wasn't until I was "treated" by an opthamalogist with a steroid which initaally did work but it came back with a vengence. Then the doctor gave a eye drops for allergies which didn't work at all. Finally when I went on the internet and researched my sypmptoms and came across your website and read all the posts about how ACV worked for the different people who had pink eye I felt hopeful. So I tried the ACV remedy and it didn't work but when I went back to this website I realized I wasn't using the ACV with the "mother". So then I got the ACV with "the mother: and I started to see positive changes. Because of this experienced I'm a believer in natural remedies. I used the 2 teaspoon to 1 cup spring water and within a week the infection was gone. Just to make sure it didn't come back I continued using it just twice a day once in moring then once at night for 1 extra week. After having pink eye for months and months it took a week for ME to get rid of my pink eye with no MD degree!!!!!

Posted by Doddie (Lawrenceville, Georgia, Usa) on 04/24/2013

[YEA]  Pink Eye bought on by intermittent sore throat-I used 1 teaspoon of ACV to 3 tablespoons of distilled water. I used one drop every 30 minutes to an hour or whenever I thought about it. When I woke up my eyes was glued shut from the infection. I stated using 3-4 drops every 30 minutes to 2 hours which worked better. It burned. My red eye cleared in 3-4 days. I treated the other eye and a little yellow mucus was present but my eye did not get red. I cleaned kept my glasses cleaned with alcohol. I used an eye dropper to pour the mixture in (inside of another small bowl in case some spilled) and what spilled in the bowl I used a cotton disk dampened in this to wipe my eyes throughout the day. I changed disk for each eye. It has left and has not returned.

Posted by Scott (Lockport, Ny Usa) on 04/15/2013

[NAY]  Please help. I have had viral conjuntivitis for over 4 months. I tried a prescription from an optomitrist and no help. I have now been using 1/4 tsp. Apple cider vinegar to 1/2 cup water mixture for over a week and while it seems to help the itchiness, my eye does not appear to be healing. There is a thick red line through my eye to the left and right of the color circle. It seems to be spreading to the other eye. Has any one ever heard of pink eye like this? I have no insurance but started to call opthamologists about appointments anyway. I am concerned I might be damaging the eye. Yeah, I'm scared. Any words of advice? Thanks

Replied by Happy
Up The Creek In, Wv, Usa

Get some cold pressed castor oil from a health food store. Put the castor oil into a 2 ounce dropper bottle. Place one drop of castor oil into each eye, three times per day. [or more times per day]. The castor oil will sooth and heal the eye surface tissues. If there are any infectious biotics in the eye, it will get rid of them. It is very anti-biotic.

For some reason this trait of castor oil is hidden, or un-spoken of, even by castor oil proponents. It is treated as some sort of secret. If you have a cut, a pimple, an infected skin lesion, etc; inflamed or not inflamed, rub some castor oil on them 3 times a day and they will heal within 1 to 3 days time.

Try to find the original cause for this eye condition. When a farmer has cows with this condition, they put cod liver oil into their eyes to cure it. Probably caused by a Vit A deficiency condition. Maybe do some cod liver oil supplement for a month and test it out.

Replied by Elsaeasterly
Elsewhere, Ca

I would be worried that the acid would damage the eye. I used fresh brewed green tea with great success.
Replied by Dave Donate

Fountain Inn, Sc

Try two drops of colloidal silver in each eye twice daily for two days. Has always worked for me.

Posted by Mamma Mia (Cincinnati, Ohio) on 02/11/2013

[YEA]  This is the third time I have used ACV for curing pink eye in my kids. Wonderful! All redness and goop gone in 48 hours. I add just enough ACV to discolor the water, about 6 drops in 3 ounces. Then just one drop in each eye. Makes your eyes sting a little, but just briefly. The first time anyone in the family got pink eye (I have 5 kids), we went to the doctor, paid the $20 copay and the $25 copay for Vigamox for 3 kids and 2 adults. Multiply $45 by 5 and that's a pretty fancy night out. That was 5 years ago.

When my 4th child got it 3 years ago, I used ACV and it cleared up in 48 hours. Yes, his eyes were all goopy and red. I just kept soaking a cotton ball in the stuff and rubbing it on his eyes every 2-3 hours. Then when me and three of the other kids got it, I used ACV for myself and got rid of it in 2 days. I used colloidal silver for the kids because they were complaining of the stinging with the ACV. The colloidal silver worked great too.

Now my oldest just got it in one eye, red and goopy and I started with black tea. I didn't see a big improvement through the day and I noticed his other eye starting to get red, so I switched to ACV. Twenty-four hours of starting ACV, the redness was almost gone. Next morning no redness. I'll continue to use it 3 times a day for the next 4-5 days just to make sure it's gone for good. Just one drop in each eye.

Now my 4th child has it (super-duper goopy and red within several hours)and I can't get him to do the ACV because of the stinging. So I'm wiping his eye with baby shampoo and flushing it out with black tea every hour. I'm also treating my 2nd and 3rd child with ACV 2x/day just to make sure they don't get pink eye. My 5th child is on antibiotics for an ear infection, so hopefully she won't get it.

Always works. Love it. I have used both Organic Unfiltered ACV and regular ACV. Both have worked the same for me.

Posted by Brainbuster (Bloomington, Illinois) on 01/15/2013

[YEA]  Some of the other reviewers here have said that their pink eye was unresponsive to the antibiotic eye drops the doc gave them.

I've gotten pink eye several times (maybe because I have 2 cats... I dunno), and all the times I used the antibiotic drops, they worked.

The reason I'm here is simply because I can't afford to pay a doctor to tell me that I have pink eye (which is obvious). I guess I should've been a doctor, because whenever my eye gets pink, I correctly diagnose that I have pink eye. Reminds me of a car mechanic, but I'll spare you that story. Anyway, ACV works. It also stings. But it works.

I put enough ACV (with mother... Not sure what that is, but I got it because ppl on here said it's important) into a bowl of water to make it look muddy. I then took a Rohto eye drop dropper that I was almost finished with (leaving some of the Rohto liquid in it... Which btw is ten times better than Clear Eyes eye drops for making your eyes bright and white), then, from the bowl of diluted ACV, I sucked up the solution into the Rohto vial (used pliars actually... I'm strong enough to squeeze the eye dropper but the pliars do a better job here).

Every half hour (I set my alarm), I put in the drops, which STUNG. But I did it anyway, even though my eyes are worth thousands of dollars. It's now about 24 hours later, and I almost look like Brad Pitt again.

Thanks, Earthclinic!

Replied by Bryan
Falls Church, Virginia, Usa

How long did your pink eye last while using the doctor antibiotic eye drops? Did you have pink eye in one eye or both?