Home Remedies for Eye Infection That Actually Work
Eye infections can affect any part of the eye including the inner or outer eyelid or the eyeball. Eye infections can be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, and any foreign body getting into the eye can cause severe irritation. Very often, people who wear contact lenses are more prone to eye infections. Common symptoms of an eye infection are redness around your eyelids, discharge, itchy or scratchy eyes, watery eyes, and swelling around your eyes.
The eye is a very complex and sensitive organ, therefore, if you get any signs of a serious infection in your eye, you should see an eye doctor. Not getting prompt treatment for an eye infection can lead to permanent eye damage and possible vision loss.
There are many home remedies for eye infections that can be used for mild infections or to complement conventional treatment for severe eye infections. For example, a warm compress with chamomile can help to reduce eye swelling and is effective against pink eye. Even a simple saline eye wash can help to reduce eye infections, soothe irritation, and speed up healing time.
Before we look at the best home remedies for treating an infected eye, it’s important to know a little more about the different kinds of eye infections.
Different Types of Eye Infections
Eye infections can affect one or both eyes at the same time. Depending on the cause of the eye infection, you may have one of these eye infections:
Conjunctivitis or pink eye. This is a common viral or bacterial eye infection that affects the inside of the eyelid or outer layer of the eye. According to Medlineplus, pink eye causes itching, inflammation, discharge, and redness and can be very contagious.1
Eye stye (sty). An eye stye is another common type of eye infection. An eye stye causes a red bump to appear on your eyelid. The stye appears because of bacteria blocking an oil gland in your eyelid. The bump can fill with pus and become red and swollen. The Mayo Clinic says that a stye should go away on its own within a few days.2
Keratitis. A bacterial infection in your eye which can cause pain, vision problems, and watery eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, keratitis can also cause discharge and requires prompt medical treatment.3
Shingles. Shingles can affect your eye as well as making your skin and nerves sensitive to touch. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says that the herpes zoster virus can infect the skin around the eye and even the eye itself. This will cause your eye to become very painful, inflamed, and cause redness on your eyelid. If you have shingles around your eye, you should see a doctor immediately.4
Blepharitis. Blepharitis causes your eyelids to become inflamed and it also causes the skin around the eye to become dry. Dr. Brian S. Boxer Wachler from WebMD says that your eyes will probably feel itchy and look swollen. Some home remedies are effective in treating blepharitis infections.5
Orbital cellulitis. A bacterial infection in the tissue around your eyes can cause orbital cellulitis. Ophthalmologist, Dr. Franklin W. Lusby says that the upper and lower eyelid become swollen and inflamed and are often accompanied with a fever, pain when moving the eye, and decreased vision.6 If left untreated, it can lead to blindness, therefore, prompt medical attention for this type of eye infection is essential.
Dacryocystitis. Dacryocystitis is an infection of the tear sac when it becomes blocked. According to Dr. James Garrity from the Mayo Clinic, the eye infection can inflame the area at the corner of your eye near to your nose. This will probably be painful and you may have discharge from the corner of your eye.7
Herpes virus. The same herpes virus that causes cold sores can also cause eye infections. Very often the infection is spread to the eye after touching a cold sore on your face. Dr. Daniel Porter from the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that the herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection in the eye can cause pain, redness, problems with your vision, discharge, and sensitivity to light.8
Common Symptoms of Eye Infections
A viral, bacterial, or fungal infection in or around your eye will cause a number of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Mild eye infections can be treated effectively using home remedies to reduce inflammation and help the eye heal properly.
According to Dr. Kathleen Romito from WebMD, some symptoms of eye infections that can be treated at home are:9
- A feeling of something in your eye.
- Redness around your eye or eyelids.
- A small amount of discharge.
- Watery eyes.
However, if you have other symptoms like pain in your eyes, increased sensitivity to light, fever, impaired vision, and discharge, you should always have your eye evaluated by a doctor.
Common Causes of Eye Infections
There are a number of reasons why eyes become infected and cause redness, swelling, and discharge. For example, irritation from a minor injury (like a scratch) or a chemical getting into your eye can result in germs causing an eye infection.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology says that people who wear contact lenses are more prone to having eye infections.10
Also, touching your eyes with unclean hands can spread germs and viruses to your eyes that can cause infections on your eyelids, eyeball, and tear sacs.
Home Remedies for Eye Infections
Effective treatment for infections in and around the eye require getting rid of the infection-causing germs and soothing any inflammation. It’s also important to always wash your hands before applying any remedy to your eye. This will help to prevent spreading any more infection to your eye.
A warm compress can treat an eye infection like an eye stye or conjunctivitis and help clear the infection quicker. The warmth from the compress helps to increase blood flow to the infected eye which may speed up the healing process.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend using a warm compress to treat pink eye infections. This can also be useful to soothe the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.11
How to use:
To help get rid of an eye infection using a warm compress, this is what you should do:
- Soak a clean, lint-free cloth in warm water and wring out the excess.
- Keep your eyes closed and apply the warm compress to the infected eye several times a day.
- Repeat until signs of your eye infection have gone completely.
If you have conjunctivitis in both eyes, you should use different clean cloths for each eye. This is to prevent spreading infection from one eye to the other.
If your eye is inflamed, you can also try a soothing cool compress for instant relief from itchy, scratchy eyes.
Tea bags are a great way to help treat an eye infection at home. Old tea bags for eye infections make great compresses and tea contain soothing properties to help reduce inflammation and irritation caused by eye infections. Tea bags can also help to drain pus from eye styes and prevent the infection getting worse.
For example, the journal Archives of Dermatology published a study into the therapeutic effects of green tea. The researchers found that green tea contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than can help treat various skin disorders.12
How to use:
It is very easy to use black or green tea bags as a home remedy to help treat mild eye infections. This is what you should do:
- Dip a tea bag in hot water and leave for 5 minutes.
- Press out excess moisture and make sure that the tea bag isn’t hot.
- Place onto your infected eye and hold for a few minutes at a time.
- Repeat the tea bag remedy every day until the irritation, discharge, and any other signs of the eye infection have gone for good.
Chamomile is another natural remedy for treating eye infections, especially pink eye and eye styes. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile help to clear infections and soothe inflamed eyes.
A study from 2010 into the anti-inflammatory effect of chamomile found that it is an effective treatment for eye infections and inflammation. Chamomile is used to clear infections in tear sacs, get rid of the symptoms of conjunctivitis, and treat other eye disorders.13
The University of Maryland reports that a chamomile compress can help to fight pink eye infections.14
How to use:
You can also make a therapeutic eye compress from chamomile tea bags to help get rid of the eye infection quicker. All you have to do is follow the instructions on using regular tea bags for eye infections.
A word of warning: some people have an allergy to chamomile. Therefore, if you have allergic conjunctivitis, you should use an alternative natural remedy for your eye infection.
You can treat conjunctivitis naturally by using a natural remedy called eyebright (Euphrasia). Eyebright is a natural herb which has traditionally been used for treating eye infections naturally. Eyebright can also help to protect your eyesight and prevent vision problems.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that a single drop of eyebright 3 times a day can produce “very good” results when treating conjunctivitis.15 Another study found that eyebright is effective for eye infections because of its antimicrobial properties. Eyebright killed off various bacterial strains that cause eye infections.16
How to use:
The easiest way to use eyebright as a natural remedy for eye infections is to purchase homeopathy euphrasia eye drops. You should put one drop in your infected eye 3 times a day until the infection is completely gone.
Many people don’t know that you can use raw natural honey to treat various eye disorders. Honey contains powerful antibacterial properties that have a wide range of health benefits. The best type of honey for treating eye infections is Manuka honey. However, if you can’t get Manuka honey, then you can also use organic honey as an effective natural eye salve.
A study from 2016 which was conducted in Germany found that honey is a natural eye remedy for eye diseases. Honey was found to help prevent dry eye disorders and help kill off infection-causing bacteria in the eye.17
How to use:
To help quickly reduce irritation and inflammation caused by an eye infection, use some honey to speed up the healing process. This is all you have to do:
- Mix equal parts of honey with distilled water.
- Using a cotton ball, apply the natural honey remedy to the infected eye.
- Use 2-3 times a day until the eye infection clears and you no longer have any irritation.
Saline eye wash
You can relieve discomfort in your eye from an eye infection by rinsing your eye with a saline solution to get quick relief. Salt helps to balance the pH levels in your eye, thus reducing itching and irritation. Saline solutions are also naturally antibacterial and that helps to remove infections and also prevent them spreading.
The journal Annals of Emergency Medicine reported that a warm saline solution is the best kind of solution to rinse your eyes. A warm saline solution helps to soothe the eye better than a solution at room temperature.18
How to use:
To rinse your eye with a salt water solution to help get rid of an eye infection quicker and soothe irritation, this is what you should do:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in a cup of water.
- Boil the salt solution and leave it to cool until it is warm.
- Use an eye bath to rinse the infected eye.
- Repeat rinsing your eye with the salt water remedy 2-3 times a day until all symptoms of the eye infection are gone.
Some people have found colloidal silver to be a natural treatment for conjunctivitis or eye styes. Colloidal silver contains tiny particles of silver which have an antibacterial effect when used on the skin. Eye drops containing colloidal silver can help to remove infections from your eye.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reported that colloidal silver is used to prevent conjunctivitis.19
How to use:
You should buy colloidal silver from a health store or online. The instructions for using colloidal silver for treating conjunctivitis are as follows:
- Put 1-2 drops of colloidal silver in your infected eye and blink to distribute the solution.
- Repeat 2 times a day.
- Continue using until the pink eye infection clears up.
If you have itching and swelling around your eye due to a mild eye infection, you can also use colloidal silver cream to relieve the discomfort.
How to Prevent Eye Infections
One of the best ways to prevent eye infections is to use proper eye hygiene. One of the basic principles to stop germs spreading to your eyes is to wash your hands before touching them. This is also very important if you wear contact lenses.
Here are some practical ways to prevent infections on your eyelid, eye, or the area surrounding your eye:
- Avoid touching your eyes and face. If you have to, wash your hands thoroughly beforehand.
- When treating eye infections, always wash your hands before and after applying remedies.
- Don’t share towels, face cloths, or pillows.
- Protect your eyes with glasses or goggles from dust, chemicals, and other irritants.
- If you wear contact lenses, always remove them before going to sleep and follow the directions on the cleaning solution carefully.
Eye Infections – When to See a Doctor
Your eye is a very delicate organ in your body and can become infected easily. Prompt attention for any symptom of an eye infection will help to stop the infection spreading and becoming worse. However, some eye infections can become very serious and can even cause permanent vision impairment or loss.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend seeing your health care provider promptly if your eye infection causes any of the following:20
- Moderate to severe pain in one or both of your eyes.
- The redness in or around your eye becomes very intense.
- Symptoms of an eye infection don’t improve within 24 hours after treating it at home.
- You develop sensitivity to light.
- Your vision is blurred or impaired.
Read these related articles:
- 10 Health Warnings Your Eyes May Be Sending
- This One Ingredient Can Save and Restore Your Vision
- The Best Home Remedies for Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)