The eyes can be sensitive to many things. Foreign bodies and bacteria or viruses are often at fault for that contagious pink eye. The recovery of your eyes can be sped up thanks to natural remedies. You’ve heard about them and probably even used them a lot by now. But do you know how to use essential oils for pink eye correctly? How can hydrosols be of help in this case?
Find out the answers as we go deeper into the article. Continue reading to find out about:
- The way hydrosols and essential oils could help you get better faster. Facts about each type of remedy, how it affects the eyes and their recovery.
- The correct and safe way of using essential oils for conjunctivitis. It’s really not the usual way, so be sure to check that part of the post.
- At home (DIY) recipes and blends for pink eye relief.
- Types of conjunctivitis (pink eye), symptoms and causes, plus prevention tips.
How to Use Hydrosols and Essential Oils for Pink Eye
The pink eye is medically known as conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the eye membrane called conjunctiva.
This membrane covers the front white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid. Here’s how and where conjunctiva is located on the eye.
There are many different types of pink eye. Doctors don’t usually take samples from the secretion coming out of the affected eye(s). The treatment depends on:
- Whether the infection is bacterial or viral,
- Or perhaps allergy-related.
The usual treatment includes the cleaning of the eyelids with a warm or cold soft cloth. Compresses are also recommended to soothe the inflamed eye. Antiviral medication is not always prescribed, but it’s not uncommon either.
The good news is that the infection is treatable. The bad news is that it may take weeks until it has run its course.
Luckily, we have some natural means of soothing pink eye symptoms. At the same time, we could also speed up the healing. The best natural remedies for this sort of infections are essential oils and hydrosols.
Aromatherapy is a good form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Generally speaking, the aromatic oils are a lot gentler than drugs. Yet, they’re also very effective, especially when it comes to infections.
It’s a known fact that antibiotics can’t kill some strains of viruses. Some essential oils however, can do that by penetrating their protective biofilm. An aroma oil is a very complex remedy, with a complex chemical profile.
How Do You Get Rid of Pink Eye Naturally?
You can get rid of conjunctivitis with natural remedies, applied daily. Aromatherapy uses essential oils and carrier oils, as means of dilution. It also uses hydrosols.
How are they useful in treating pink eye? To understand that, we need to know what each is and what it does.
Best high quality essential oils are steam distilled. To get a few milliliters or liters of essence, it usually takes hundreds or even tons of plant material. The resulting oil will be a very powerful extract.
The steam distillation involves boiled water and condensation. The steam from the boiled water goes into a chamber filled with plant material. It starts to “cook” the plant and then, it passes right through, moving upward.
Then the vapor gets cooled off and produces condensation. When it starts to come down again, on a different pipe, it’ll be oil and water combined. The essential oil molecules don’t mix with the water, so they start rising and pooling together on top.
The water is then eliminated in a different recipient, through a different tube. The pure essence is stored in a separate recipient and kept tightly sealed. It is volatile, which means it’ll evaporate fast.
The resulting water from the steam distillation is called a hydrosol. Its other names are hydrolate or floral water. Not long ago, these hydrosols or essential oil byproducts were seen as waste. Nowadays, they’re slowly starting to gain the respect they deserve.
Water and oils don’t mix. During the distillation process, there are some water-soluble molecules that don’t make it into the essential oil. Therefore, they stay in the hydrosol, giving it therapeutic properties.
Take a look at how hydrosols are made:
Did You Know?
- In Persian culture and ethnomedicine, hydrosols are used as beverages or safe remedies. Some of them are used for high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems.
- Researchers tested many hydrosols to see if they had the same chemical profile as their respective essential oils. It turns out they don’t. There are traces of oil constituents in the hydrosol but not enough to make it dangerous. You can read more about the study here.
In terms of therapeutic potency, hydrosols are a bit stronger than herbal teas. This places them way beneath essential oils, which is why they’re good for soothing pink eye at home.
Essential oils for pink eye (conjunctivitis) can:
- Relieve pain and inflammation.
- Soothe itching sensations.
- Deal with allergic reaction.
- Speed up recovery.
- Boost the immune system.
Hydrosols (floral waters) for eye inflammation can also:
- Calm down irritation and itching.
- Soothe the painful, inflamed eyelids.
Can pink eye be cured naturally? Yes, it can. Most of the times, the infection goes away on its own. But if you want to cure conjunctivitis fast, you can use natural remedies to speed the process up.
Before I give you some pink eye remedies to do at home, I’ll give you a list of oils and hydrosol to choose from.
Essential oils for red eyes and eye inflammation:
- Tea Tree oil for pink eye – Strong antibacterial and antiviral, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant. This last property refers to the ability of increasing the production of white blood cells (immune system). These benefits make Tea Tree oil great for eye infection.
- Lavender – It is one of the best relaxing and calming essential oils. It is especially good for itching and speeding up tissue healing. Lavender also has antibacterial and antiviral effects. It can also soothe muscle spasms, that may or may not accompany conjunctivitis.
- Roman Chamomile – An excellent calming and sedating oil, with anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. It also has antispasmodic properties.
- German Chamomile – An excellent anti-allergy oil that soothes itching and inflammation. German Chamomile is great for allergic conjunctivitis.
- Blue Tansy – Another very good anti-allergy essential oil, especially to pollen. It can soothe intense itching and eye stinging, speeding up recovery. It’s calming and sedating and strengthens the blood vessel walls.
- Clove Bud – One of the proven anti-inflammatory essential oils. It can also relieve pain and fight major infections. It can also calm down muscle spasms.
- Rosemary (ct. Cineole & Verbenone) – Both varieties are good antibacterial and antiviral substances. They can also boost the immune system and relieve pain.
- Lemon Eucalyptus – Great anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, antiviral and antibacterial. The oil is also calming and sedating for the nervous system.
- Ginger – Very good anti-inflammatory, antiviral and tonic for the nervous system.
- Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain reliever) and antioxidant. It can also help the tissue regenerate.
Hydrosols for pink eye (conjunctivitis):
- Lavender – This floral water is extremely gentle and calming with the skin. It also relieves redness and irritation, itching and inflammation.
- Roman Chamomile – This Chamomile hydrosol is especially soothing for eye problems. It can relieve pain and eye inflammation. It also relieves muscle eye spasms. It’s very delicate even for babies and sensitive skin.
- Rose – Great for itching, irritated and tired eyes. Rose hydrosol can soothe and balance the nervous system. It also very gentle with the sensitive skin around the eyes.
- Cornflower Blue – In European alternative medicine, this hydrosol is the best for eye infections. Cornflower hydrosol is great for tired and swollen eyes and conjunctivitis. It is also useful for allergic conjunctivitis. Its anti-inflammatory effect can help decongest the swollen eyelids.
- Melissa – This plant is known for its great calming effects. It’s good especially for anxiety and stress, but also to soothe the inflamed eyelids.
- Eucalyptus globulus – another exceptional hydrosol for pink eye and eyelid inflammation or pain. It’s purifying and disinfecting, antibacterial and astringent. It is also tonic (stimulant) for the tissue.
- Tea Tree – Tea Tree hydrosol is great for eye infections like the pink eye. It has very good antibacterial and antiviral effects. It also improves the circulation and speeds up healing.
Generally speaking, hydrosols don’t have side effects. They’re very gentle with the skin. At most, they can cause irritation because of some constituents. That is why you should spray a bit on your inner forearm and watch for reactions first.
If you don’t have hydrosols, herbal teas or poultices can also soothe eye inflammation. For example, one good conjunctivitis tea can be green tea.
Many people have tried green tea for pink eye because of its antioxidants. The same antioxidants act as anti-inflammatory agents.
Using essential oils for pink eye is a totally different story. Their improper use can cause severe damage to the eyes and eyesight. Read on to find out how to use them correctly and safely.
How to Use Essential Oils for Conjunctivitis (Eye Inflammation)
Besides the remedy itself, the most important thing for eye care is how you use these remedies. The skin around the eyes is extremely thin, which makes it very sensitive. It can get irritated very quickly.
Symptom relief is the main focus of conjunctivitis treatment. What to do if you have pink eye and you don’t want to go to the doctor? Assuming you know you have conjunctivitis for sure, you can apply compresses and keep the eyelids clean.
This should be done several times a day. A pink eye infection may take 2 – 3 weeks to run its course. As long as the eyes are still red, the infection is contagious.
Essential Oils Use for Conjunctivitis
Essential oils are very concentrated plant essences. They should never, ever be applied directly to the skin around the eyes. It goes without saying that they are not to be dropped into the eyes as well.
They can burn the skin and cause a lot of pain. Regardless of the oil you choose to use, no essential oil should be near the eyes!
I’ve seen lots of people suggesting dilution before rubbing them on the eyelids and around the eyes. In my opinion, it’s simply unwise and can only do more harm than good.
For topical use, essential oils for conjunctivitis and red eyes must be diluted. You can use carrier oils for that. Then, they should be applied on pulse points on the neck, behind the ears and wrists.
That way, they can penetrate the skin and reach the blood. The blood will take the oil molecules everywhere inside the body. This means they’ll also reach the eye infection and help killing the bacteria or virus. They can also soothe and speed up recovery.
Another efficient way of using essential oils for eye inflammation is steam facial baths. You can add 1 – 2 drops of aromatic essence to steamy, boiled water.
Use a towel to cover your head above the bowl with steaming water. Sit there with your eyes closed for 5 minutes, and another 5 with them open.
The volatile molecules can pass through the eyelids and reach the conjunctiva tissue. This method ensures you don’t get into direct contact with the oils. Researchers are still trying to develop a device that allows us to use only aromatic vapor.
It would work great for the most sensitive membranes of our bodies. One other sensitive membrane is the tympanic one, found deep inside the ears. The same researchers found essential oil vapors to be extremely useful in treating ear infections.
Coconut Oil for Pink Eye
Aromatherapy oils must be diluted with carrier oils. They can be anything you have at hand, but one of them really stands out. I’m talking about Coconut oil.
Unrefined Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but it melts immediately if you increase the temperature.
Can you use Coconut oil for pink eye? Yes, you can! Coconut oil can be used for eye infections because it’s very rich in Lauric acid. Current research shows that Lauric acid is a great antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.
Topic application of Coconut oil for eye infection transforms Lauric acid into monolaurin. This substance is much more active and potent.
Coconut oil is a carrier oil, not an essential oil. It’s fatty and spreads well on large skin areas. It’s not known to cause irritation or other skin problems.
Thus, Coconut oil can be applied pure around the eyes and on the eyelids. You should still test it first for allergic reactions, just to be sure!
Hydrosol Use for Conjunctivitis
You can use hydrosols to wipe the eyelids and eyelashes clean from secretions. You can also warm them and soak a cotton pad or soft cloth in them. Wring the excess out and apply on the eyes for a few minutes. You can do so 3 – 5 times, daily.
You can also spray the hydrosol directly onto the eyes when you feel them itching or swollen.
Other home remedies you can use for pink eye is honey. Researchers observed that local application of honey on infective conjunctivitis reduced:
- Pus discharge,
- And healing time.
Salt water wash is also common because it can disinfect the skin around the eyes. A hot compress can also soothe pain and itching. Just make sure it doesn’t get into your eyes; it will burn and sting!
To make salt water wash for pink eye, boil the equivalent of a bowl of water. Add a teaspoon of salt and mix until the salt melts.
Let it cool off, until it becomes warm. Soak the compress/cotton pad into it and apply for 10 – 15 minutes. You can repeat 2 – 3 times a day, each time warming up the water you’ve got left.
I don’t recommend using apple cider vinegar for pink eye, because it’s highly acidic. It can indeed disinfect and kill bacteria, but it can also irritate the eyes.
Soothing Essential Oil Recipes for Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)
I’ve already talked a lot about the oils and hydrosols you can use as remedy. Now it’s only natural to give you a few recipes to try them out.
Aroma Spray Recipe for Conjunctivitis Relief
- Cornflower hydrosol: ½
- Eucalyptus globulus hydrosol: ½
- Spray bottle: 50 ml (1.69 fl. Oz)
Spray directly or soak a cotton pad, which you will place on both eyes. Make sure you throw the cotton pads away, to prevent infecting others or your other eye.
Swollen, Red & Irritated Eyes (Pink Eye) Recipe
- Roman Chamomile hydrosol: ½
- Lavender hydrosol: ½
Whatever recipient you use to mix these floral waters in, make it 50- 50. Apply warm or cold compresses on the eyes, 3 times a day. You can continue with a bit of Coconut oil.
Essential Oil Roll-On Pink Eye Treatment
- Tea Tree essential oil: 3 drops
- Blue Tansy/German Chamomile: 3 drops
- Eucalyptus essential oil: 3 drops
- 10 ml roll-on bottle
- Fractionated Coconut oil
Add the essential oils first then fill the bottle with carrier oil. Give it a good shake and apply on pulse points, 3 – 5 times a day. Don’t apply this blend on the eyelids or around the eyes!
You can skip the carrier and add a few drops of the essential oil mix into a diffuser. That should also help killing bacteria and viruses.
Pink Eye Types, Causes and Symptoms, plus Prevention Tips
Conjunctivitis or pink eye looks almost the same, regardless of its cause. There are just a few differences between them, but they all run their course and heal on their own.
Generally speaking, conjunctivitis symptoms are:
- Red eyes,
- Swollen eyelids,
- Burning sensation,
- Itching sensation,
- Light sensitivity,
- Feeling like there are foreign bodies in your eyes (e.g.: sand),
- Secretions filled with pus and glued eyes upon waking, for bacterial conjunctivitis.
- Clear secretions and watery eyes, for viral or allergic conjunctivitis.
- Sneezing and watery nasal discharge for allergic conjunctivitis.
Bacterial conjunctivitis clears out faster than viral conjunctivitis, 7 – 10 days vs. 2 – 4 weeks. These two types are very contagious. Allergic conjunctivitis clears out the fastest, 2 – 3 days.
The usual causes of pink eye are:
- Dust and/or pollen in the eyes,
- Chemical substances,
- Blocked tear ducts (in babies).
Left untreated, conjunctivitis can cause severe lesions to the cornea. If you’ve never had pink eye before or you’re not sure if it’s it, you must go to the doctor. If your symptoms don’t get better after a few days of natural treatment, you should also visit your doctor.
Conjunctivitis Prevention Tips
One good question is, can you still go to work with pink eye? The answer is yes, as long as you follow some good hygiene habits. The infection is usually contagious for about two weeks after it has started.
- Throw away any and all used compresses.
- Apply a new compress each time, on each eye.
- Wash your hands before and after caring for your infected eyes. Better yet, wear protective rubber gloves when doing so.
- Avoid using contact lenses while dealing with conjunctivitis. Throw the old ones away, they may infect your eyes again.
- Keep all towels, clothes, linens and cloths separate from the rest of the laundry. Wash them separately too, to prevent infecting others.
- Throw away your eye makeup after healing from pink eye. Also, avoid sharing it with other people.
When it comes to treating pink eye at home, essential oils must be used carefully. I’ve explained to you what they can do and how they must be used to reap only their benefits.
Instead of using essential oils for red eyes, you have a better option in hydrosols.
You can use essential oils for pink eye (conjunctivitis), but only on pulse points and far away from the eyes. Hydrosols, on the other hand, are safer and very gentle. They can be sprayed onto the eyes or they can be used to wipe and clean the eyes. They can help soothe the symptoms of conjunctivitis, while it runs its course.
What do you think about these home remedies for pink eye? Will you give them a try, now that you know all these facts? I’ll look forward to reading your opinions.