Crusty goo closing up the corners of your eyes can’t be a good sign. Rub this irritation and you’ll only make matters worse if you’re suffering from a case of pink eye – an inflammation that attacks the outermost layer of the eye and inner surface of the eyelids better known as the conjunctiva . While allergic reactions are a common culprit behind the condition also known as conjunctivitis, the most notorious cases are caused by infections (both viral and bacterial).
What Causes Pink Eye?
Sometimes, the cause of pink eye comes from sources you wouldn’t normally associate with inflamed eyes, while other factors play an obvious role. To make matters worse, you could encounter more than one ailment at a time when pink eye strikes, including blepharoconjunctivitis (when conjunctivitis combines with blepharitis – inflammation of the eyelids) or keratoconjunctivitis (a mixture of pink eye and keratitis – inflamed corneas). The most common causes of pink eye includes:
a) Viruses and Bacteria:
Rubbing or touching the eyes is one of the most common ways that people can spread bacteria or transfer a virus. People with colds are also susceptible to contracting viral conjunctivitis.
A sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia, can cause conjunctivitis .
Also known as allergic conjunctivitis, direct contact with an allergen can bring about a case of pink eye. Sometimes, the allergen makes contact with your eyes through the air – like when pollen takes to flight during the changing seasons. Other times, the allergen may adhere to your hands and become transferred when you touch your eyes. Typical allergens include pet hair, fungal spores, and dust.
Avid swimmers have been known to suffer pink eye, due to the chlorine found in pool water.
The irritating ingredients found in most shampoos can cause a case of pink eye to erupt.
Anything known to cause irritation to the eyes can trigger conjunctivitis. Dirt and dust can become trapped in the eye, creating the perfect environment for the condition to strike. Sit too close to a cigarette smoker and some people react with irritated eyes. A chemical splash can also cause conjunctivitis to develop.
g) Foreign Objects:
A wayward pencil, finger poke, or paper cut to the eye can all cause pink eye.
Patients with conjunctivitis usually experience redness, irritation, itchiness, and watering of the eyes – fairly common symptoms that appear in all forms of pink eye. A handful of individuals may encounter an itch or tightness in the throat. Some people also describe a ‘gritty feeling’ in one or both of their eyes. During the night, discharge seeps out of one or both eyes to form a crust. In the morning, victims of pink eye may awaken to dried mucus sealing their eyelids shut. Depending on the source and severity of the case, symptoms will vary, as seen below:
Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis: Itchiness, irritation, and swollen lids are key symptoms.
Viral Conjunctivitis: Often associated with an infected upper respiratory tract, sore throats, or the common cold, where a watery discharge and itchiness are main symptoms. Usually, the infection starts with one eye and can easily travel to the other.
Bacterial Conjunctivitis: A pus-producing bacteria can set up shop in the eyes, causing various colored discharge to develop. Severe crusting often appears in infected eyes and surrounding skin. Some patients experience pain. It is not uncommon for an infection of this sort to lay dormant for three days before showing any signs.
Irritant Conjunctivitis:Pain and irritation increases when an infected eye points up or down. While itchy eyes and discharge are usually not a typical symptom, conjunctivitis caused by an irritant is one of the most painful forms of pink eye.
Risk Factors and Negative Effects
When it comes to pink eye, children seem to face the most cases of viral and bacterial conjunctivitis. To make matters worse, both forms are highly contagious with infected individuals able to pass on the condition for seven to 14 days after their signs and symptoms first rear their ugly head. This means that children must stay home from school and adults must take time off from work. Family and friends are kept at arm’s length to avoid passing on the infection.
Additional risk factors and negative effects for pink eye include:
People susceptible to acute allergic conjunctivitis must be aware of their environment at all times to avoid a flare-up. Unfortunately, a pet lover must keep their distance from dog dander and hair if this is what causes their pink eye to develop.
b) Contact Lenses:
It is not uncommon to find people that wear contact lenses facing a higher risk of developing conjunctivitis . This is especially true with extended-wear lenses.
The type of job you hold can place you at a higher risk for suffering pink eye, such as working at an establishment where you face the threat of chemical splashes on a daily basis.
d) Seasonal Factors:
According to a senior physician at the University of Pittsburgh student health center, more than 300 cases of pink eye are treated – mostly during the winter months . Those allergic to pollen will also become targets for conjunctivitis during seasonal changes.
Pink Eye Natural Cures
Depending on the type of conjunctivitis you are suffering from, you could find the following natural cures pretty helpful when you can no longer take the crusty eyes, burning sensation, and itchiness:
a) Dried Calendula and Chamomile:
Steep two tablespoons of dried calendula (pot marigold in some circles) in one cup of hot water and leave covered for about an hour. After cooling, dip a square of cotton into the tea and allow drops to fall into your eye. Set the cotton over the eye for 10 minutes. The reminder of the tea can be placed in the refrigerator for later use. This particular remedy is believed to soothe the eyes without the threat of burning or stinging sensations. This same remedy works well when using dried chamomile.
b) Homeopathic Eye Drops:
Combat bacterial or viral conjunctivitis with over-the-counter homeopathic drops geared towards treating pink eye. For example, Simalasin (Pink Eye Relief) contains active ingredients meant to treat redness, burning sensations and grit (belladonna), watery discharge (euphrasia), and inflammation (hepar sulphurius).
c) Organic Green Tea Mixture:
One pink eye victim found relief by combining filtered water, two organic green teabags, the juice of ½ small lemon, and two capfuls of peroxide to treat their symptoms. Fill a small 6-ounce juice glass halfway with filtered water and steep all ingredients for about 20 minutes. Using an eyepatch to hold in place, take one teabag out of the mixture and allow it to drain into the infected eye. At first, stinging may occur for a couple of seconds, but after an hour or so – improvements are seen. Repeat overnight to enhance the soothing relief.
Using tea as a natural cure for pink eye is rather common (whether it’s Orange Pekoe or another variation). Another remedy combines teabags, honey, and about ¼ teaspoon of salt. After steeping two teabags to create one cup of tea, remove the bags and allow them to cool. Pour the tea into a shot glass or small jar, adding the honey and salt. After the salt has dissolved and the liquid is completely cooled – use a Q-Tip to apply two to three drops of solution into infected eyes – sweeping the base of the eyelashes. Finally, cover the eyes with the teabags, using a warm washcloth to hold them in place. Honey offers antibiotic results, while the salt works as an astringent.
d) Breast Milk :
It is said that lactating mothers may cure pink eye in newborns with breast milk because of the natural antibodies it possesses. Use a medicine dropper to place a few drops into the eye, repeating every couple of hours.
e) Aloe Vera:
Use the juice found in the leaves of an aloe vera plant to treat the corners of your eyes, as this cure contains antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. It is suggested to use pure aloe vera from a plant to avoid the stinging sensation that may come with over-the-counter products. Repeat throughout the day and overnight.
Treat green discharge by gently rubbing the eyelids with a cotton ball soaked in peroxide. Repeat several times per day to see results. While this treatment may cause stinging, many patients have expressed instant relief.
g) Apple Cider Vinegar:
Create eyewash consisting of distilled water and apple cider vinegar to ease the pain of pink eye.