Pink eye—or conjunctivitis—is an infection of the outer layer of the eye and inflammation of the whites of the eye. This common infection is very contagious and is often seen in children, though anyone can catch it. Depending on its cause, the condition may be left to run its course or be treated with eye drops, however, some essential oils have been found to provide relief of the symptoms of pink eye. Continue reading to learn which essential oils are best for treating this infection as well as how to use them.
Pink eye is the inflammation of the conjunctiva—the thin, clear layer that covers the white of the eyes and the inside of the eyelid. When inflamed, the blood vessels within the conjunctiva dilate and cause the eye to look red and bloodshot. While conjunctivitis can have a variety of causes, when referring to pink eye, the cause is almost always viral conjunctivitis—an infection that can be caused by something as simple as the common cold and that usually clears up over the course of a few days.
The most obvious symptom associated with pink eye is the redness or bloodshot look to the eyes. This may be accompanied by your eyes being watery, itchy, and more sensitive to light.
While some physicians recommend eye drops to soothe the symptoms of pink eye while you wait for it to clear up, there are also some natural remedies to alleviate the itching and redness. Essential oils like tea tree oil, lavender oil, and roman chamomile hydrolat have been found to effectively relieve some symptoms of pink eye. Find the benefits of these essential oils listed below.
Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil works well as an antibacterial and can kill the viruses and bacteria that are causing your pink eye. It is important to note that tea tree oil should never be in direct contact with your eye as it can irritate it and make the condition worse.
Lavender oil. Lavender oil is also effective for treating pink eye and can kill the infection causing your symptoms almost immediately.
Roman chamomile hydrolat. Roman chamomile hydrolat can soothe itchy skin and is an anti-inflammatory. This oil can also kill viruses and bacteria that cause infections that could lead to pink eye.
Neem oil: Contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help fight bacteria and soothe inflammation. It can also prevent and alleviate pain and irritated skin. It can be used in combination with tea tree oil for a combined effect of antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Applying a small amount of neem oil around the affected eye, preferably before bed, will lead to a notable improvement over a few days.
Coconut oil: Despite not being a true essential oil, coconut oil contains many nutrients and chemical compounds that can benefit overall health and improve symptoms of pink eye. It is believed that coconut oil can boost the immune system, which will help fight off the eye infection. It is important to make sure to get pure or virgin coconut oil, as there exist many other types that carry additional unwanted chemicals.
To use essential oils and hydrolats to treat pinkeye, it’s important that you do not put the oil directly into your eye as it may cause burning and irritation. When using tea tree or lavender oils, you can create a mixture that is made of one drop of essential oil and one teaspoon of carrier oil—for example, coconut oil. Stir the oils well and dip a clean cotton swab into the mixture. Using the swab, apply the oils to the area around your eye, being sure to avoid direct contact with your eyeball. Leave the mixture on for approximately 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off carefully with warm water.
To use the roman chamomile hydrolat to treat your pink eye, combine one drop of the oil in six teaspoons of lukewarm water, then take a clean cloth and soak it in the mixture. Wring as much moisture out of the cloth as possible and place it over your closed eyes for ten minutes. Flip the cloth over and leave it on your eyes for an additional ten minutes, being cautious that none of the mixture drips into your eyes.
To prevent pink eye from developing in the first place, the best advice is to follow good hygiene habits. Avoid touching your eyes and face with your hands and ensure you wash your hands often. Only use clean towels and make sure you do not share these items. Also, be sure to wash your pillowcases frequently, and if you use cosmetics like mascara and eyeliners, they should be replaced often.
Pink eye is a common infection that can cause redness, itchiness, and irritation of your eyes. While most cases will clear up in time, there are some essential oils and hydrolats that are useful for soothing the symptoms. When applying these oils near the eyes, always make sure to avoid any direct contact with your eyes as they may cause further irritation.