Pink eye causes pain, swelling, tearing, sensitivity to light and a watery discharge. The eye appears pink or red. Two types of pink eye are contagious, while pink eye caused by environmental pollutants is not. Experts recommend seeing a doctor at the first signs of infection. Infectious pink eye may require prescription medications. You can get soothing relief from contagious and non-contiguous forms of pink eye symptoms with a few simple home remedies.
Definition and Symptoms
Pink eye or conjunctivitis, is an infection of the eye caused by allergens, bacteria or viruses. It can be caused by environmental pollutants and irritants. The infection affects the thin membrane covering on the surface of the eye (See Reference 1).
The symptoms of pink eye differ according to the source of the irritant. Pink eye that is caused by environment pollutants and allergens cause swelling, tearing and itching. You can get relief from this type of pink eye by taking allergy medications, using eye drops, or by using a home remedy (See Reference 1).
Pink eye that is caused by viral or bacteria sources cause a build-up of green or yellow discharge. The green or yellow watery substance leaks out of the eye and can make it difficult to open the affected eye after long periods of sleep. Both types of pink eye may cause swelling and pain. Viral pink eye is associated with light sensitivity (See Reference 1). Pink eye caused by viral infections is extremely contagious.
Pink Eye Prevention
There are several precautions people can take to help prevent pink eye. Frequent hand washing tops the list (See Reference 2). Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap for one or two minutes. Another way to time hand washing, especially for children, is to wash for as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song. Other methods to prevent the spread of pink eye include not sharing makeup and using hand towels only once before washing (See Reference 1).
When to See a Doctor
Most experts recommend that you see an eye specialist as soon as you suspect having pink eye. A doctor can tell if the condition is contagious and prescribe treatment. If you are prone to pink eye and you recognize the symptoms as being caused by environmental or seasonal factors, you can use over-the-counter and home remedies for relief. Viral and bacterial pink eye may require treatment with antibiotic drops or ointments (See Reference 1).
The best and most effective home remedy for pink eye involves a wet washcloth. For pink eye with watery discharge, use a wash cloth soaked in warm water to loosen the dried build-up. Continue to use a warm compress three to four times a day. For pink eye caused by allergens and environmental factors, use a wash cloth soaked in cool water to help relieve swelling and itching (See Reference 1).
Make a compress by soaking a washrag in boiled chamomile. Or boil tea bags, allow to cool, and place over eyes. Both methods provide soothing relief to irritated, swollen and itchy eyes (See Reference 3).
Never cover or put a patch on pink eye. Covering the eye raises eye temperature, which causes the infection to worsen. An eye patch also prevents natural tears from washing away irritants (See Reference 2).