I don’t know about your house, but my house has had case after case of pink eye thanks to a 3-year-old in daycare. Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, a clear membrane that covers the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.
It looks worse than it usually is but should be diagnosed and treated early because certain types are very contagious (as in my house). Symptoms of pink eye may include:
- Tenderness of the eye, or pain
- Body aches
- Sensitivity to light
- Discomfort in the eye
- Redness of the eye or inner eyelids
- Discharge and teariness
- Discharge may cause eyelids to crust and stick together while sleeping (this happened to me…one word: gross)
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Infection usually begins with one eye, but can quickly spread to other eye in cases of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis (this happened to me, too)
Pink eye can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergic reactions. Antibiotic drops are commonly prescribed, but if the cause is a virus, these drops won’t help. Most cases of pink eye can resolve on their own in time, but as anyone who has had it before can attest, you want to get rid of it as soon as possible.
The best way to treat pink eye is to avoid it by washing hands frequently and disinfecting any areas that may have been contaminated by 3- year-old fingers. However, if you are unfortunate enough to have contracted it, here are some simple solutions to help ease your discomfort.
- Saline eye drops can be used to soothe the discomfort of conjunctivitis, as will a warm cloth held over the eyelid.
- In the case of allergic conjunctivitis, it is important to find and remove or distance yourself from the source of the allergy, and you should try not to touch or rub the eyes.
- A cold compress will ease itchiness and provide some relief. It is also a good idea to use an eye wash (using purified water) regularly throughout the day to speed up recovery. However, make sure that it is well sterilized beforehand and if both eyes are infected, a separate eye washer should be used for each eye, or it should be re-sterilized between each use.
- For itchy eyes, try cooled tea bags on the eyes. The tannin in tea will help sooth itchiness and reduce inflammation. Using chamomile tea bags is an even better idea as chamomile is well-known as an effective eye tonic.
- Combat bacterial or viral conjunctivitis with over-the-counter homeopathic drops geared toward treating pink eye. For example, Simalasin (Pink Eye Relief) contains active ingredients meant to treat redness, burning sensations and grit (belladonna), watery discharge (euphrasia), and inflammation (hepar sulphurius).
If you still have pink eye after 3 or 4 days, or if it hasn’t improved contact your doctor.