Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is inflammation of the thin outer membrane around the eyeball and inside of the eyelid. Most people think it's caused by fecal matter coming into contact with the eye, through poor hand washing or other reasons. That's sometimes true, but it can actually be caused by a number of things, including allergies, viral or bacterial infection, and sexually transmitted diseases. Viral and bacterial infections, which include the poo-induced pink eye, are highly contagious. I've had pink eye twice since having kids. It's awesome. Yes, that's sarcasm. It's the worst.
When you realize you have pink eye
The first thing you need to do when you realize you've contracted pink eye is to assume it's contagious and wash your hands. Warm water and soap for the full thirty seconds. Don't skimp here. You do not want to pass this to anyone else in your household, do you? Wash often and well to avoid spreading the infection. If one of your kids has it, remind them regularly about washing up and help the younger ones.
Don't touch your eyes. I know they itch, but the more you touch them the more likely you are to pass this infection to someone else. Both times I had pink eye, I was the first one in my house to come down with it. I'm not sure how, since I know for a fact that I wash my hands more often than the hubby and two kids combined. But it happened. By washing my hands often and avoiding touching my eyes, I managed to pull through both cases without passing it to anyone else.
Homeopathic remedy for pink eye using essential oils
All you need to treat pink eye at home is one bottle of oil: lavender. Make sure it's a high-quality oil that's approved for topical use. (My favorite brand is Eden's garden: Get it here.) When you wake up with that first gunky, itchy telltale sign of pink eye, whip out some lavender and put it to use. Here's what you do.
Open your lavender bottle and place your finger over the dispensing hole. Invert it, just like you did with your foundation before makeup brushes were a thing, and get some oil on your finger. You don't need much, not even a full drop, just a bit. Now tap your oily finger around the bony part of your eye socket, being very careful not to get lavender in your eye. Do this twice a day until the infection clears up, usually 2-3 days. That's it!
Can you use this on your children?
Lavender is generally considered safe to diffuse around children of all ages. If you're new to diffusing essential oils, check out this post. Since this remedy calls for topical use, best practice for children 2-6 years old is to dilute one drop of lavender in 4 tsp of a carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, avocado oil, etc. Avoid topical use of all oils on children under the age of 2. Be especially careful to avoid contact with the eyes during application and keep a close watch on them after use so they don't rub the oil into their eyes. For more information on essential oil safety with children, check out this post at the Herbal Academy.
When to consult a doctor.
If you've got a contagious viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, this home remedy works like a charm. If your pink eye is a by-product of an allergic reaction or a secondary symptom of another disease, essential oils may not work to clear it up. It's time to see a doctor if your pink eye doesn't clear up in 2-3 weeks, gets worse, affects your vision, or comes back repeatedly. I love my essential oils and they've been highly effective for many things, but there are sometimes when a doctor visit is required.
Have you tried this remedy? How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments section below: