Natural Treatment for Pink Eye in Kids

| Modified on Jan 10, 2022
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It can be a little frightening the first time a parent sees their child walk up rubbing their eyes, possibly complaining that it feels like there's sand in them. The eyes look pinkish-red, bloodshot. The eyes might be itchy or weeping. When the kid first wakes up, his eyelids could be stuck together. The child might complain that light bothers his eyes or that her eyes hurt. What's the problem? Pink eye.

Pink eye sometimes accompanies a cold or other sickness, and sometimes it is the only symptom. While it is not a serious condition, it is uncomfortable, very contagious, and can cause a child to miss school. Fortunately, there are inexpensive home remedies that will help to cure pink eye.

Prevent Pink Eye from Spreading

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Occasionally, pink eye is caused by allergies or environmental irritants and is not contagious. However, the safest practice is to assume that it's contagious and act accordingly. If a child has pink eye in one eye and rubs the other, it will spread to the other eye. Pink eye will spread from touching a used tissue or towel or simply from coughing or sneezing.

Here are a few tips on preventing pink eye from spreading:

  • Wash hands often and thoroughly, with warm water and soap.
  • Don't share anything that could have touched the eye, such as eye drops, makeup, towels or even pillowcases.
  • Anything worn or used by someone who has pink eye, such as clothing, towels or bedding, should be washed separately in hot water.

Natural Treatments for Pink Eye

Natural treatments for pink eye include apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and activated charcoal powder. Several herbs are also helpful, including chamomile, eyebright, and black tea. Always treat both eyes even if only one eye appears to be infected. It will help prevent the other eye from getting the infection.

Continue to treat the eyes a day or two after symptoms are completely gone. While a family member has pink eye, wash towels often. Using disposable paper towels to dry hands after hand washing will also reduce risk of contamination to other family members.

Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Raw organic apple cider vinegar is one of Earth Clinic's top cures for pink eye.

  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar to 1/2 cup of boiled and cooled (or distilled) water.
  • Use a cotton ball to apply the cool water-vinegar mixture to the eye several times a day.
  • It can be applied to the eyelid and a bit will go into the eyes when the eyes open again. It may sting a bit temporarily.

Activated Charcoal Powder

Activated charcoal powder can be made into a "tea" for pink eye.

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of activated charcoal powder in 1/2 cup of water.
  • Strain the mixture through a coffee filter.
  • Use the filtered gray water in the eyes - a drop or two several times a day.

Coconut Oil

Extra virgin coconut oil can be gently rubbed across the eyelid several times a day. Be careful to wash hands thoroughly after each treatment to prevent spreading.

Herbs for Pink Eye

Tea Bags

Chamomile or black tea bags are a soothing and effective remedy for pink eye.

  • Boil water and pour just enough over a tea bag to moisten completely.
  • When the tea bag has cooled, place the tea bag over the eye for 5-10 minutes.
  • This should be done at least three times a day.

Chamomile Tea

Alternately, make a cup of chamomile tea.

  • Dip a cotton ball into the tea hourly and wipe the infected eyes. (This is easier to use for a child that won't sit still for the tea bag remedy.)
  • Make a fresh batch daily and use a clean cotton ball for each eye and new cotton balls each time you clean the eyes.
  • If you happen to have the herb eyebright on hand, it can be used instead of the chamomile.

We hope that you have found this helpful. Please scroll down to see what other Earth Clinic readers have found helpful for treating pink eye in children.

If you have a natural remedy for pink eye, please share it with us!

Additional Pages of Interest:

Pink Eye in Adults

Activated Charcoal

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Ky Mama (Clinton, Ky) on 11/24/2012
5 out of 5 stars

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?


No, it feels just like water.

Replied by Mama To Many

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~

Replied by Lindsey
(Sherwood, Ar)
5 out of 5 stars

This remedy is very effective and starts working immediately. It is also great for pets when they have any kind of eye infection or goopy eyes. Please put this remedy on the main pink eye page as well!

Apple Cider Vinegar

3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Mamma Mia (Cincinnati, Ohio) on 02/11/2013
5 out of 5 stars

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.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Secratan (Austin, Tx) on 01/02/2010
5 out of 5 stars

I tried this method yesterday to stop a, possible, pink eye infection. I was pretty skeptical, but today I woke up with 2 happy eye balls :)

I used about 1/2 a teaspoon of ACV in 3 oz of water. I used a q-tip to get a drop or two in at a time and reapplied about every hour. It burns a bit, but the sting goes away in about 5 seconds. If it hurts too much, just dilute your solution some more.

good luck.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Amy (Sevierville, TN) on 03/10/2007
5 out of 5 stars

Hello everyone! My daughter is in 2nd grade, and we have become experts on pink eye! After many doctor, and eye doctor visits, including seven boxes of contacts, and countless bottles of Vigamox (an antibiotic $65 a bottle, and the bottle is tiny)we have found a much cheaper cure. My husband uses apple cider vinegar for his colds. I woke up one day, and didn't even have to look in the mirror. I was so mad, pink eye again! Having run out of the antibiotic, I started to panic, and looked up and there was some apple cider vinegar. Saving you lots of time that was about 7 months ago, and we have had it a couple of more times, ending it pretty fast. First, shower, wash your face and hands well. Dress and get yourself a dry washcloth. I only use bottled water for this treatment, since I have a well. If you have city water thats up to you. I then take about 16 oz of water and add enough apple cider vinegar to give it a slight tint. About a teaspoon. I have varied the amounts. Don't use too much vinegar. You are only going to burn your eyes. If you have to work, call in, this is an all day alternative to spending money, and takes all day to cure. I heat the mixture slightly in the microwave (about 30 seconds) to make it warm. Sit down, pop in your favorite movie, and get ready with your washcloth. Begin douching your eye, pouring in small amounts, you can get a dropper if you have one. I just hold the wash cloth to catch the extra, and pour in a good amount. It does burn a little. Make sure you hold your eye lid down, and even roll your eye around. It feels better warm, by now, your wash cloth should be getting wet. Stop and hold over your eye. Rest, and repeat all day. I have done this several times now, and it does take about a full day and night to be completely white again. Clean the house while your waiting too, as it is sooo contagious! Good luck

Baby Shampoo

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Stephanie (Napa, Ca) on 02/01/2021
5 out of 5 stars

Baby Shampoo contains an agent that kills the pink eye after just one or two washes, and contains an agent that will not sting the eyes. Just rub a few drops with a little water in the palm of your hand and mix it before rubbing it into the eyes and letting it sit for a few moments before rinsing. Repeat once or twice every few hours or so until gone.

Black Tea Bag

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Leah (Friendswood, Tx) on 09/07/2009
5 out of 5 stars

Yes, tea bags work for pink eye and work very well on infants. My son had pink eye when he was 8 months old or less, and I put tea drops from black tea bags in his eye, and it worked the same day. I kept on it a few days after to make sure.


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Joyce (South Carolina) on 01/18/2016
5 out of 5 stars

I have 4 children, two are adults now.

We have always used a weak solution of Sodium tetraborate (mule team borax) for eye infections. It would usually be cured after first application. I just mixe 1/8teaspoon (mule team borax) in 1 cup warm distilled water.

Then I would put a couple drops of this mixture in their eyes and wipe the area around the eye with a solution soaked cotton ball.

Others should always do their own research, but I have done mine and trust it's safety when used responsibly and I always test new things by tiny amount first to make sure there is not a allergic type reaction.

The ingredients on my borax box today is only Sodium tetraborate.

Opticalm and is an eye wash that has Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate in it's ingredients.

Chloramphenicol Eye Drops has borax as one of it's ingredients and it is for bacterial conjunctivitis

Otrivine Antistin Eye Drops have sodium tetraborate in it's ingredients.

Replied by Lea
(Pahoa hawaii)

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and your experience! I woke up this am with the beginning of a conjunctivitis infection and thought of using borax. I've been taking it internally fir the last few weeks with no issues. It's an amazing mineral and remedy for so many things. It's sad how much misinformation is out there used to make people fearful and confused and not use this effective and inexpensive cure.
Mahalo! Gonna try this today!

Boric Acid

3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Krzymomma (Arizona) on 08/17/2016
5 out of 5 stars

My 8 year old busted out with bilateral pinkeye. Now I have been a nurse for 12 years and over the years have come to the understanding that pharmaceuticals are not always the best choice. I mixed 1 tsp of pharmaceutical grade boric acid (its an otc) and and 8 ounces of boiled filtered water. cooled, poured in a sterilized blue glass dropper bottle and instilled 2 drops to each eye, four times a day for 7 to 10 days. Eyes all cleared up after 3 days, however continued treatment for 4 more days.

Boric Acid
Posted by Vanessa (Newark, Oh) on 08/23/2013
5 out of 5 stars

I would use Boric Acid for my kids when they were little and had pink eye. It was a remedy my Mother In Law told me about that she would use on her kids. It always worked. I would get it from the Pharmacist behind the counter. I don't know if you can still buy it or not.

Boric Acid
Posted by Bombshell (Stanwood, Wa., Usa) on 09/30/2010
5 out of 5 stars

I've used Boric Acid for all kinds of eye infections. It works faster than any other remedies. When my son was a baby and began to show signs of Pink Eye, I would immediately get out the Boric Acid. I would use about half a cup of warm water and one teaspoon of Boric Acid. Mix really well until the BA is dissolved, then dip a cotton ball squeezing only some of the mixture out (so it doesn't drip all over the place), then dab the infected eye at each corner. Do this two or three times using a clean cotton ball each time. My father is a doctor of Chinese medicine, Homeopathy, and acupuncture. This is a remedy he told me about when I was a teen almost a hundred years ago : ) Don't be afraid to do this to yourself or anyone else. It does not hurt, sting or burn the eyes what-so-ever. And trust me, this works better and faster than any anti-biotic your doctor can prescribe.

Breast Milk

6 User Reviews
5 star (6) 

Posted by Jacquelyn (San Francisco) on 01/10/2022 4 posts
5 out of 5 stars

Breastmilk cured my baby's pink eye in a matter of hours. I just expressed a little breastmilk and put a drop or two in each of her eyes every hour (aimed toward the inner corners of the eyes). I tried it in my own eye as well first just to see if it felt alright and it was soothing and not irritating at all. Her eyes completely stopped the oozing and redness after about 6 hours.

Breast Milk
Posted by Vonda (Miamisburg Ohio) on 05/21/2014

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

Breast Milk
Posted by Caroline (Nashville, Tennessee) on 12/02/2010
5 out of 5 stars

I use breast milk for everyone in my house for eye infections and ear infections. Antibiotic drops were not clearing up eye infections because they were viral. Now, I just use an eye dropper with expressed breast milk several times a day, and the symptoms disappear!

Breast Milk
Posted by Piper (Toronto, On) on 09/12/2010
5 out of 5 stars

My daughter had mucous in the eyes as an infant. Doctor prescribed drops and massage, but the problem persisted. Someone suggested breastmilk and I applied to her eyes and it cleared up never to reoccur.

Breast Milk
Posted by Suzanne (Middlesbrough, , Uk) on 09/12/2010
5 out of 5 stars

My midwife recommended I try breast milk when my newborn had gloopy eyes. It worked! The problem cleared up within a couple of days and did not return.

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