10 Ways to Banish Pink Eye

Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is an incredibly common medical condition that costs up to $857 million per year to treat in the United States. So, as far as treatment goes, it’s pretty important to know what works and what doesn’t.

Treating pink eye ultimately boils down to taking care of the underlying cause or treating the symptoms to make recovery more comfortable. So, if you’ve come down with pink eye, we’ve got just the right healing remedies for you…

10. Using Eye Drops

A young woman uses eye drops for her pink eye
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Eye drops can provide quick relief for red and swollen eyes. This is the go-to pink eye treatment in many cases. You can use over-the-counter eye drops as well as the prescription variety to help manage and relieve this condition.

Another way to get medication delivered directly to the eye is to use the following… 

9. Using Ointment

mixture for eye drops irritation to drop an ointment into the eyes
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Ointments can provide much of the same relief as eye drops, just with a different form of delivery. Younger children can often have trouble sitting still for eye drops and certain people are sensitive to the application of medications directly to the eye. An ointment works by applying medicine near the eye and then slowly melting in the eye as heat from the body warms the ointment.

Antibacterial pills can also help if you fighting a serious infection… 

8. Taking Antibiotics

White and green antibiotic pills against a bright yellow background
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One of the most common causes of pink eye is a bacterial infection. If this is the cause of your pink eye, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics, which treat severe infections that can’t be treated with eye drops. Note that these drugs only work on bacterial infections; they will have no effect on pink eye caused by viruses, allergies, and other causes.

In the case of viral infections, the most common treatment is the following… 

7. Letting it Run its Course

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Sometimes the only way to treat pink eye is to manage symptoms and help the body fight back on its own. When pink eye is caused by a viral infection, for example, often people’s best option is to just let the body handle the infection itself. 

The exception to this rule is if the viral infection is particularly serious… 

6. Taking Antiviral Medications 

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Antivirals namely help the body fight back against viral infections. While they can’t directly destroy the virus, they can make it much easier for the body to defeat the infection on its own. Antibacterial drugs work by directly killing the infectious bacteria while antiviral medications work by stopping the viral infection from functioning.

For less-severe cases of pink eye, one treatment you can try is the following… 

5. Rinsing Your Eyes

eye wash
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When you are suffering from pink eye, the swelling and discharge can be a serious annoyance. Rinsing your eyes can clear the discharge that makes pink eye so uncomfortable. Specifically, rinsing can help dislodge foreign objects and clear out anything that might be causing an allergic reaction. 

For allergy-related cases of pink eye, the following could help, too… 

4. Taking Antihistamines 

Woman with Respirator Mask Fighting Spring Allergies Outdoor - Portrait of an allergic woman surrounded by seasonal flowers wearing a protective mask
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When an allergen comes into contact with the eye, it can trigger a case of pink eye. Antihistamines help block this allergic reaction and provide quick relief for people who experience pink eye due to allergies. Antihistamines tend to have fairly substantial side effects, though, which makes them an unusable treatment for some people.

There is a quick, at-home treatment you can try to relieve your pink eye, though… 

3. Applying a Cold Compress

Asian preteen using cold compress on pink eye
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A cold compress is a classic treatment for everything from the common cold to headaches. Soaking a towel in cold water and applying it to the eyes can provide instant relief for pink eye, especially because it reduces swelling and irritation. Even more, a cold compress can also help to clear out any discharge that is making your eye uncomfortable. This won’t cure your condition, but it will provide fast relief. 

If your pink eye seems to come and go without a noticeable cause, it might be time to see a specialist… 

2. Visiting an Immunologist 

immunologist concept art
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One of the more rare causes of pink eye is an autoimmune disorder. These conditions cause the body’s own immune system to attack otherwise healthy cells. An autoimmune condition can cause pink eye if the immune system mistakenly attacks the eye.

An immunologist can diagnose your autoimmune condition and determine if that is what is causing your chronic pink eye. They can also help you find the right treatments for your condition.

If all else fails, it might be time to let your eyes do the following…

1. Letting Your Eyes Rest

Black man closes eyes, profile view against gray background
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Your eyes are busy focusing and moving all day long and even at night while you are asleep. When you have a case of pink eye, this additional strain can become too much for the eyes and surrounding muscles to handle.

Letting your eyes rest allows you to get a break and can be as simple as closing your eyes for a few minutes, taking a nap, or getting off the computer and going for a walk. The goal is to reduce strain so that your recovery can be much more comfortable.

What to Do Next

If you have pink eye, the best thing you can do is visit a doctor, who can rule out more serious causes like gonorrhea or autoimmune conditions. Typically, pink eye is fairly harmless and will run its course in time as long as you take care of yourself while recovering.

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