Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is the inflammation of the membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner lining of the eyelid. This area of the eye is called the conjunctiva.
There are many environmental factors that may cause this membrane to become inflamed such as allergies, hay fever, chemical, bacteria and viruses. But the most common cause of pinkeye is the bacteria and viruses that are contagious in nature.
Symptoms of pinkeye
The most apparent, given the name of the condition, is redness of one or both eyes, burning, itching, profuse watering, photosensitivity (sensitive to light of any kind), pain and discomfort as though there is something lodged in the eye itself. Pus or secretions may come from the eye, causing the eyelid to stick together, often upon waking in the morning.
Acute pinkeye is often bacterial in nature and can be treated with oral antibiotics or applied directly to the inner lining of the lower lid of the eye. If it is viral, it will not respond to the antibiotics and may clear up by itself.
To ease some of the symptoms the patient should be in a darkened room and cool compresses applied as needed. Make sure the compresses are not shared and are washed or disposed of after use. Using a different compress each time is recommended. If using a cool pack make sure to cover it completely. Cleaning it with disinfectant before refrigeration after use will cut down on the possible transfer of the bacteria to another person.
Precautions to take if someone is affected by pinkeye.
Using separate washcloths in the home is very important, as the bacteria can be spread by contact with the infected person’s drainage. Good hand-washing techniques for the entire family is important. Touching an object or the hand of an infected person who has not practiced good hand washing will transfer the bacteria to the other person unknowingly. Inanimate objects such as cups, glasses, crayons, pencils, desktops and toys can carry this bacterium. With the new advances in technology they now have special wipes you can use that kill up to 99 percent of bacteria on objects. The only fall back with this condition is that often the patient already is contagious before they are diagnosed. Unfortunately children do not wash their hands as well as we would like, and this is the most likely way the contagion is passed in schools. School-age children should not attend school during the infectious phase of this disorder, as it is highly contagious. It is a common curtsey to contact the school and let them know of your child’s condition. They may also be able to tell you if there is an outbreak in the school at that time.
Herbs for Pink Eye
Chamomile, fennel, eyebright, comfrey, cornflower, celandine.
Natural Eye Washes
These washes help to open the eye in the mornings when the infection has produced enough secretions to cause the eyelids to stick together during the night. Often pulling the eyelid apart is very painful, this will help to remove the dried secretions and allow you to open them with least discomfort.
To make a good eye wash, dissolve one half teaspoon aloe and one teaspoon boric acid in one cup of water.
Another eye wash: steep one teaspoon goldenseal, one half teaspoon myrrh and two heaping teaspoons boric acid in one pint boiling water. Add one teaspoon of the infusion to one half cup water and use.
If pinkeye lasts longer than the doctor had anticipated, it may be another condition that affects the cornea. It can lead to a decrease in vision and you must seek out the services of an ophthalmologist to see how much damage may have occurred. The loss of vision, depending on the reason, may be permanent or temporary, and only an ophthalmologist is able to detect this. The usual treatment is that of eye drops that are used on a regular basis as prescribed by the physician until the condition clears up.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. If you feel you have pinkeye please contact your physician and have him or her treat you. This is purely for informational purposes only.