Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that covers the white portion of your eyeball and lines the inside of your eyelids. The conjunctiva helps keeps your eyes moist.
Most pink eye is caused by either a viral or bacterial infection or an allergic reaction. It can be quite contagious and is typically characterized by symptoms in one or both eyes, including:
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a vinegar made with a double fermentation of apples. This fermentation process yields acetic acid — a primary ingredient of all vinegars.
You can find many sites on the internet suggesting that ACV should be used to treat pink eye either by using a vinegar/water solution on the outside of the eyelid or putting a few drops of a vinegar/water solution directly in your eye.
There is no clinical research to back up these suggestions.
If you’re considering using ACV as a home remedy for conjunctivitis, get your doctor’s opinion before proceeding. If you choose to use vinegar as an eye treatment, be very careful. According to National Capital Poison Center, vinegar can cause redness, irritation, and corneal injury.
There are a variety of home remedies that people use to treat pink eye, including tea poultices, colloidal silver, and coconut oil. Don’t try these remedies without first discussing them with your doctor.
Recommended home remedies
Although the following methods will not cure pink eye, they can help with the symptoms until it clears up:
- damp compresses: use a different one for each infected eye, and repeat several times a day using a fresh, clean washcloth each time
- over-the-counter (OTC) lubricating eye drops (artificial tears)
- OTC painkillers such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
Pink eye is most often viral, so your doctor might recommend that you leave your eye(s) alone and let the conjunctivitis clear on its own. It might take up to three weeks.
If your doctor diagnoses you with pink eye caused by the herpes simplex virus, they might recommend antiviral medication. Bacterial pink eye is commonly treated with topical antibiotics, such as sulfacetamide sodium (Bleph) or erythromycin (Romycin).
Pink eye can be contagious. The best way to limit its spread is to practice good hygiene. For example, if you have pink eye:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your eyes with your hands.
- Replace your face towel and washcloth with clean ones every day.
- Change your pillowcase daily.
- Stop wearing your contact lenses and disinfect or replace them.
- Discard your contact lens accessories such as cases.
- Discard all your mascara and other eye makeup.
- Don’t share eye makeup, towels, washcloths, or other personal eye care articles.
You might hear anecdotal information about apple cider vinegar and other home remedies for curing pink eye. It’s probably in your best interest to follow the advice of the American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Never put anything in your eye that isn’t approved by a doctor.”