Pink eye (or Conjunctivitis) is one of those annoying little illnesses that is more inconvenience than anything, especially since anyone who sees anybody (or hears of anybody) who has pink eye seems to think that the Black Plague of Death is nigh at hand and reacts with horror. Henceforth and therefore, one is required to sequester themselves away from all society until doomsday has passed and the eye is no longer shedding icky goopy stuff…. which can take up to a week. Like I said, an inconvenience.
It’s not life-threatening. It’s not dangerous. It’s just annoying. Totally no fun at all.
Recently, both of The Boys got to experience the bacterial version of Pink Eye (as opposed to the viral kind, which usually accompanies a cold, and has happened around here once or twice, or the allergy kind which we haven’t had to deal with yet), so I got to experience the fun of treating it. Yay me! What I discovered was that home remedies are more than adequate to stop Pink Eye in its tracks… if you apply them repeatedly and frequently until the symptoms stop.
Tiger Cub was the first to get it, and unfortunately, I was not as faithful to his treatments as I should have been, so his case kind of dragged on for a few days. When my Certain Little Someone got it (wasn’t it so nice of the brothers to share?), I determined to try every home remedy readily available to me, and apply them repeatedly through the course of the day. His case was knocked out in two days! Who needs antibiotics?
1. Lavender Compress
The first thing I did with both boys was a lavender compress, which is very easy to do and requires only a bowl, lavender essential oil*, a washrag, and some warm/hot water. Place a drop of lavender oil in the bowl, and fill it with hot water. Put the washrag into the water until it’s thoroughly wet, then wring it out. Place it over the eyes (keep them closed) for as long as the kid can stand it. For my Tiger Cub, that was about 30 seconds. My Certain Little Someone made it to a few minutes. Ideally, it should be at least 5 minutes, but that wasn’t happening around here.
I tried to apply the lavender compress at 3 different times throughout the course of the day, but especially at night, to facilitate healing during sleep.
2. Eucalyptus Radiata Essential Oil
Eucalyptus* is another essential oil that’s very good for conjunctivitis and is safe for children. Dilute 1-2 drops of the oil in a teaspoon or so of carrier oil, then apply in the following manner:
- Dab just a bit of the oil on your finger – just enough to moisten it – and carefully run your finger across the brow. Repeat with the other brow. Be sure there’s not enough oil on your finger to drip onto the eyelid, because… ouch! If you do happen to mistakenly get the oil too close to the eye, use some carrier oil (olive, coconut, etc.) to remove it, don’t try to rinse with water as that will make it worse.
- Dab just a bit onto the temples, rubbing in a circular motion.
- Massage a bit of the oil onto the pads underneath the 2nd and 3rd toes of each foot.
You can also diffuse Eucalyptus Radiata. Once again, I applied the oil approximately 3 times a day.
3. Honey Wash
Add a teaspoon or so of raw honey to about a cup of warm water. Stir until it dissolves. Making sure it’s not too hot, apply it to the eye in any of the following ways:
- Use an eye dropper to drop it into the corner of the eye.
- Use a small medicine cup and pour it over the eye, beginning at the inner corner. To facilitate this process, have your child lean over the sink with their head to the side and tilted slightly up.
- Dip a cotton ball in the honey wash (use a clean cotton ball for each eye) and firmly swipe it across the eye, once again beginning at the inner corner.
No matter which method you use, you’ll have to follow up with wiping the eye clean and dry. I applied the honey wash rather frequently through the course of the day, maybe as much as 5 times.
4. Tea Wash
For this remedy, many people recommend chamomile tea, but I didn’t have any, so I used black tea. Based on what I’ve read, you can use pretty much any kind of tea, but if you have chamomile, that might edge out as the best.
For the tea wash, all you have to do is make a strong cup of tea (I used 2 tea bags) and cool it to a safe temperature before applying. Some people stick the tea bags right on the eyes, but I knew my guys wouldn’t go for that, so I opted for the cotton ball method described above. Works just as well, apparently!
The tea wash I also applied pretty frequently – I alternated this and the honey wash throughout the day.
Now this wasn’t an option for me, but everybody and their brother will tell you that breastmilk knocks out pink eye like nothing else. If you have access to it, go for it! Apply it in much the same manner as you would eye drops.
*I have researched oils and various companies, and continue to research them, but to date, I am most satisfied with the quality of oils offered by Young Living. I’ve been a wholesale member for a year and a half, and haven’t regretted it for a second. You can be a wholesale member, too, all you have to do is order their kit of the best oils for everyday uses, which includes a diffuser, for $150. (Sounds like a lot of money, but that’s 10 5mL bottles of oils right there, and they last a long time.) It’s the best way to get started on the exciting journey of the aromatherapy lifestyle.
Of course, it goes without saying that I’m not a doctor; I can’t diagnose illness, and I can’t prescribe medication. I’m just telling you what worked for us and if you decide to try it, you do so at your own risk.