Eye infections can be uncomfortable and even painful. Without treatment, certain conditions can become serious. Several effective home remedies for eye infections can help you soothe the symptoms.

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.
  • styes
  • keratitis, an infection of the cornea

Try out the following home remedies to help relieve your symptoms.

A note of caution

Before using home remedies to treat your eyes, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional. Some eye infections can be serious.

Talk with 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.

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Saltwater, or saline, is similar to teardrops, which are your eyes’ way of naturally cleansing themselves.

That said, never put a self-mixed salt solution on your eye, as this can cause damage. In addition, using store-bought saline can dry out the eye with repeated use. For this reason, using artificial tears is more appropriate.

Artificial tears can help lubricate the eye, cleanse out various allergens, and reduce inflammation. They are not a cure for eye infections in themselves, but using them with other home remedies may help reduce symptoms.

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.

Research shows some types of tea have anti-microbial properties. This includes:

Research has also found that some herbal teas have antimicrobial properties against certain strains of bacteria, including:

  • rosehip tea
  • thyme tea
  • wormwood tea
  • mint tea
  • echinacea tea
  • cinnamon tea
  • pomegranate tea

Because of this, using tea bags on your eyes could be an effective way to reduce swelling.

That said, 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.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests using a warm compress to soothe the symptoms of pink eye, though they aren’t a cure.

Warm compresses might be able to soothe blepharitis, as well as styes, because they reduce the blockages that cause the stye. They can also help soothe the symptoms of dry eye because they help open up the meibomian gland, which helps lubricate the eyes.

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, including allergic conjunctivitis. 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

Change and wash your towels and pillowcases daily when you have an eye infection, like conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis can be extremely contagious, do not share towels or linen with others.

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 eyeliner, to avoid things like eye infections.

But you should also discard your own eye and face makeup and makeup brushes if you used them while you had an infected eye. This ensures that you won’t re-infect yourself.

Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which could make it an effective home remedy for eye infections.

Studies have found that both honey and propolis, a byproduct of tree sap and beeswax used by bees to line their hives, may help treat various eye diseases, including infection.

That said, most of the research was conducted on animals or in vitro. More research on humans is needed.

One 2017 study found that honey eye drops may be effective in helping relieve dry eye in humans. However, it wasn’t peer-reviewed. And remember, you should never put raw honey directly into your eye.

To prevent eye infections, always use the following preventive 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
  • discharge
  • 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.

How do I get an infection out of my eye?

Although home remedies can help, eye infections often need to be treated with medication such as antibiotics for bacterial infections. For allergic conjunctivitis, a doctor may prescribe antihistamines.

For chemical pink eye, which is caused by exposure to toxic substances, you may need a course of topical steroids. Viral infections will just need to run their course. If the viral infection is caused by the herpes virus, you may need oral antiviral and/or antiviral eye drops.

Learn more: What you need to know about conjunctivitis.

Can an eye infection go away on its own?

Viral eye infections will usually resolve on their own in 7-14 days, though it can sometimes take a few weeks. Mild bacterial infections can sometimes improve on their own as well in 2-5 days.

What happens if you don’t treat eye infection?

If your infection isn’t properly treated, or if it is really severe, in rare cases, it can lead to serious complications. It can damage your cornea and may lead to uveitis.

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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