Eye infections can be uncomfortable and even painful. Certain conditions, if left untreated, can become serious.
There are a number of ways your eyes can become infected or irritated. Some common eye conditions include:
- pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis
- dry eye, which occurs when your tear ducts can’t lubricate the eye properly
- blepharitis, a condition that involves the eyelid becoming inflamed and crusted.
- keratitis, an infection of the cornea
Fortunately, there are several effective home remedies for eye infections that can help you soothe the symptoms. While these home remedies can help treat eye infections, it’s always best to call your doctor before trying any at-home treatments.
Before using home remedies to treat your eyes, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional. Some eye infections can be serious.
Talk to your doctor if you think you have an eye infection. If you think your child has an eye infection, take them to a doctor instead of trying these home remedies.
Salt water, or saline, is one of the most effective home remedies for eye infections. Saline is similar to teardrops, which is your eye’s way of naturally cleansing itself. Salt also has antimicrobial properties. Because of this, it only stands to reason that saline can treat eye infections effectively.
Sterile saline solution can be bought online or from a pharmacy.
Placing cooled tea bags on your eyes while they’re closed can be a way to relax and unwind. Some say that it can be an effective home treatment for eye infections.
Some types of tea have anti-inflammatory, soothing properties. For example, studies have suggested that green tea, chamomile, , and all have anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, using tea bags on your eyes could be an effective way to reduce swelling.
So far, there aren’t any studies that show how tea bags affect the eyes, or whether they can be used to treat eye infections.
Bear in mind that while anti-inflammatory treatments can soothe the symptoms, an eye infection should be treated at the cause.
If your eyes are sore, infected, or irritated, a warm compress can help. A on 22 participants suggested that warm compresses can improve eye health in those with healthy eyes.
A 2012 showed that warm compresses can help those with blepharitis, a condition that involves the eyelid becoming inflamed and crusted.
In addition, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests using a warm compress to soothe the symptoms of pink eye.
Warm compresses might be able to soothe because they reduce the blockages that caused the stye. They can also help soothe the symptoms of .
It’s important to note that, while warm compresses might provide relief, they can’t actually cure the condition.
Here are some tips for making a warm compress:
- soak a cloth in warm water and apply it gently to your eye
- use hot, but not too hot, water so you don’t burn yourself
- make sure the cloth you use is clean, so you don’t expose your eye to more germs
Like warm compresses, cold compresses don’t exactly cure eye infections. They can, however, ease the discomfort associated with certain eye diseases. Cold compresses can reduce swelling in the case of eye injuries and infections.
Here are tips for making a cold compress:
- soak a cloth in cool water and gently apply it on your eye or eyes
- you can also freeze a wet cloth in a sealable plastic bag for a few minutes before using it on your eyes
- don’t press down hard on your eye or put ice directly on your eye or eyelid
Wash your towels and pillow cases daily when you have an eye infection, like conjunctivitis. Since these items come in contact with the infected eye, they can spread the infection to the other eye, or cause someone else in your family to develop an infection. Use hot water and detergent to kill any remaining bacteria.
We all know not to share eye makeup, such as mascara, eye shadow, and eye liner, to avoid things like eye infections. But you should also discard your own eye and face makeup, and makeup brushes, if you used it while you had an infected eye. This ensures that you won’t re-infect yourself.
You’ve probably seen other home remedies for eye infections that aren’t included on this list. That’s because more research is needed, and the use of these products might cause an infection. Experts say it’s better not to try these on your own until more evidence exists.
A few studies show positive implications for the use of honey eye drops to help treat eye infections. Though, more research is necessary, here’s what we currently know:
- Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which could make it an effective home remedy for eye infections. A 2016 review of studies found that honey was an effective treatment for certain eye diseases.
- One double-blind study showed that honey eye drops may be an effective treatment for keratoconjunctivitis. Keratoconjunctivitis is a chronic condition where the cornea becomes inflamed due to dryness.
- Dry eye, a condition where the tear ducts don’t produce enough fluid to lubricate the eye properly, may also be treated with honey eye drops. A randomized, controlled study of 114 participants showed that Manuka honey eye drops can reduce discomfort.
The problem with these studies, is that they’re not peer-reviewed, and the risk of infection still outweighs any potential benefits. And remember, you should never put honey directly into your eye.
Similarly, euphrasia is often mentioned as a potential home remedy for eye infections. Some preliminary research has produced positive results, but more is needed to ensure the safety and efficacy of euphrasia. Using euphrasia may also increase your risk for infection
- A 2014 in vitro study showed that Euphrasia extract had an anti-inflammatory effect on human corneas.
- Another looked at the efficacy of Euphrasia eye drops on participants with conjunctivitis. After being given the drops multiple times a day for 2 weeks, 53 of the participants recovered fully, and 11 experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms.
Again, more peer-reviewed research is necessary to determine the benefits. For now, it’s best to stay away from this remedy.
To prevent eye infections, always use the following preventative measures:
- Avoid touching your eyes directly.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching dirty surfaces.
- If you use contact lenses, always clean them and store them correctly.
- Avoid sharing eye makeup or makeup brushes with others.
If you suspect that you have an eye infection, it’s always best to contact a doctor.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- pain or tenderness
- persistently red eyes
- sensitivity to light
If your child or baby shows any signs of having an eye infection, take them straight to a doctor.
While there are plenty of home remedies for eye infections that might soothe the symptoms, it’s important to talk to a doctor if you think you have an eye infection.
It’s especially important to seek medical help if you think your child has an eye infection.
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