It happens to almost every parent at some point. Your child wakes with a sandy crust along the eyelashes, and you wipe it away only to find a bright pink eye. While pink eye can cause some itching or stinging, it’s likely your “Oh, no!” reaction will be the biggest source of discomfort for your child.
Pink eye isn’t really a big deal, and there’s no need to worry about it any more than you would a slight cold. Home remedies and treatment options usually clear it up quickly while reducing your child’s pain and discomfort in the meantime.
What is Pink Eye?
Pink eye is conjunctivitis, and the contagious form that spreads through daycare centers and schools is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It’s often transmitted through droplets of infected mucus spread by sneezing or coughing. Sometimes irritants like dust or allergens can cause non-contagious pink eye.
The most obvious symptom is the bright pink or red coloration of the normally white area of the eye. The redness is caused by an inflammation of the clear membrane that covers the white areas of the eye and the inside lining of the eyelids. Pink eye sometimes causes itchiness or minor burning or stinging, and discharge from the eye can result in a gritty or crusty deposit along the eyelashes.
Treatments and Remedies
Parents can use a variety of treatments and home remedies to treat pink eye. In general, pink eye can improve in as little as 24 hours and be cured in a week or less.
- Cold or warm compresses placed on the outside of closed eyelids several times a day will relieve discomfort. Use cold compresses for allergen-related pink eye, and warm compresses for infections.
- Herbal compresses can also provide relief from pink eye discomfort. Apply a cool, moist chamomile tea bag or an herbal compress made from cool chamomile tea over the eyes for 10 minutes several times a day. A compress moistened with the herbal pink eye remedy Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) can be very soothing for pink eye. Just a teaspoon of the herb infused in a cup of hot water will make a tea you can cool and use as a compress.
- Clean the eye from the inside (near the nose) out with moist tissues and water, Eyebright, or Chamomile tea to remove drainage.
- Aloe – Rub a small amount from the inside of an aloe leaf on the inside of upper and lower lids to soothe pain and reduce redness.
- Promote Healing by adding garlic and extra food sources of Vitamin C to your child’s diet. Strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi fruit and broccoli are a few options many kids like to eat.
- Homeopathic remedies can safely be used to treat pink eye in children. Similasan Pink Eye Drops is a readily available homeopathic option. If you are using an individual remedy, the choice of homeopathic remedy depends on specific symptoms. Sulphur, may be used in cases where the eye is very red and irritated and symptoms include pain, burning and itching. Apis mellifica is an appropriate remedy for puffy, pink swollen eyes and sticking eyelids.
- Chinese medicine works great to treat pink eye . A practitioner will examine your child, make a diagnosis, and prepare an appropriate herbal remedy for treatment.
Pink eye is usually viewed by TCM as a Wind heat syndrome, typified by redness, pain and swelling of the eye and possibly headache and fever. A combination of herbs may be used to treat your child’s pink eye. Ju Hua is an herb that’s often used to treat allergy-related pink eye. The more powerful form of Ju Hua known as Jue Ming Zi may be used when symptoms are more severe. Chan Tui is very effective for treating pink eye early on.
- Breastmilk can be a great solution for pink eye, blocked tear ducts, and other eye conditions- if you have some handy. If it’s challenging or akward to squirt mama’s milk in your child’s eye, just use an breast pump to express a bit, then apply it with an eye dropper or soak a paper towel and wipe or squeeze into the eye.
Prevention is Powerful
When it comes to pink eye, prevention is the best defense:
- Hygiene - Children should be encouraged to wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap, especially after using the toilet or playing in a communal setting.
- Keep an Eye out - If you can teach your child to recognize pink eye, you can encourage him or her to avoid close contact with someone who has it.
- Don’t Share - Teaching kids to cover their mouths with a tissue if sneezing or coughing can keep them from spreading pink eye if they have it.
Still want more info? Read Dr. Sear’s article that goes into more detail of the various causes of pink eye and when to be concerned.