10 Ways to Banish Pink Eye

Pink eye is an incredibly common medical condition. In fact, it costs up to $857 million per year to treat pink eye in the United States. With how common pink eye is, it’s important to know how you can treat this condition.

What Treats Pink Eye?

Treating pink eye either involves taking care of the underlying cause of this condition or treating the symptoms to make recovery more comfortable. In other words, pink eye has many causes, so treating it comes down to figuring out the best way to manage or relieve that cause.

Here are ten ways you can treat different types of pink eye… 

10. Using Eye Drops

A young woman uses eye drops for her pink eye

Eye drops can provide quick relief for red and swollen eyes. This is the go-to treatment for many different types of pink eye. You can use over-the-counter eye drops as well as the prescription variety to help manage and relieve this condition. 

Why It Helps

Unless your pink eye is being caused by a sensitivity to eye drops, this option can be a great first step in getting relief. Eye drops can deliver much needed mediation directly to the source of the infection. Over-the-counter eye drops can also be used to reduce irritation. 

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

9. Using Ointment

mixture for eye drops irritation to drop an ointment into the eyes

Ointments can provide much of the same relief as eye drops, just with a different form of delivery. 

Why It Helps

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 to help. 

Why It Helps

Antibiotics are often prescribed in the case of severe infections that can’t be more quickly treated by the use of 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

retro alarm clock on half orange and yellow background

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 

Assorted pharmaceutical medicine pills, tablets and capsules over blue background

Antivirals 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… 

5. Rinsing Your Eyes

eye wash

When you are suffering from pink eye, the swelling and discharge can be a serious annoyance. Not only is this not comfortable, but it can make it hard to get day-to-day jobs done due to visual impairment. 

Why It Helps

Rinsing your eyes can not only help clear up the discharge that makes pink eye so uncomfortable, it can also help relieve this underlying cause. 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
Nicoleta Ionescu/Shutterstock.com

When an allergen comes into contact with the eye, it can quickly trigger a case of pink eye. Antihistamines help block this allergic reaction and provide quick relief for people who experience pink eye due to their 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… 

3. Applying a Cold Compress

Asian preteen using cold compress on pink eye
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A cold compress is the 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 this condition. If you’re looking for a way to treat pink eye on short notice, this can be where you go first. 

Why It Helps

A cold compress serves two main purposes. The first is that it helps reduce swelling and irritation. This can make pink eye much more manageable. 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
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

One of the more rare causes of pink eye? 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. 

Why It Helps

An immunologist can help diagnose your autoimmune condition and help to determine if that is what is causing your chronic pink eye. They can also help you find the right therapies and treatments for your condition. Unlike other causes of pink eye, this one definitely needs professional care in order to improve. 

If all else fails, it might be time to let your eyes rest… 

1. Letting Your Eyes Rest

Black man closes eyes, profile view against gray background

Your eyes are busy focussing 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. 

Why It Helps

Letting your eyes rest allows you to get a break from all the action, so to speak. This 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 for yourself is visit a doctor. Your doctor can rule out more serious causes like gonorrhea or autoimmune conditions. Typically, pink eye is usually fairly harmless and will run its course in time as long as you take care of yourself while recovering. 

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