Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is an extremely contagious bacterial or viral infection of the outermost layer of the eye and the inside surface of the eyelid. It is a common condition this time of year, when pollen counts are high, allergies are running rampant, and immunity for most people is very low from moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency (from being inside all winter out of the sun).
Symptoms of pinkeye include redness, itching, tearing, swelling, and/or mucous production that can firmly cement the eyelids together while sleeping. I remember getting pinkeye as a child and feeling a bit of panic upon waking in the morning and being unable to open one or both eyes! If this happens to you or a loved one in your home, a warm, wet washcloth compress gently applied to the infected eye (do not rub) quickly dissolves the mucous allowing the eyes to open.
Pinkeye can spread rapidly through a household, which is why action is needed immediately to stop the initial infection. Most folks will quickly run to the doctor’s office at the first sign of redness and irritation. A prescription for antibiotic eye drops or ointment is the usual remedy and relief is mercifully quick once the drops are applied. Before this wonderful relief can be experienced, however, the inconvenience of booking a doctor’s appointment, waiting to be examined, driving to the pharmacy, and getting the prescription filled must be endured. Additional hassles involve missing work and/or school for the parent and child. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just fix this simple infection at home with none of the intervening steps?
You’ll be happy to know that pinkeye is one of the simplest and easiest infections to cure at home with no trip to the doctor required. Even better, what you need to fix the problem may already be sitting in your refrigerator. The remedy I’m speaking of harnesses the power of beneficial bacteria to eliminate the infection. While doctors prescribe ANTI-biotics to kill the pathogens, PRO-biotics work just as well for a minor infection such as pinkeye by crowding them out.
Harnessing the Power of Probiotics to Heal Pinkeye
What you need to remedy pinkeye is a probiotic laden, non-acidic liquid. For babies and children, the most effective liquid that fits this description is human breastmilk. If the Mom in your household happens to be breastfeeding, a drop or two of breastmilk expressed into a cup and then applied with a clean eyedropper to the infected eye will rapidly and magically eliminate the infection. Reapplication may be necessary every hour for a few hours, but in most every case, the infection will be gone well before you could have even gotten an appointment to see the doctor. This remedy works well for newborn babies also, so no need for the eyedrops that are used immediately after birth if you plan to breastfeed.
If there is no one breastfeeding in your home, the next best thing would be a few drops of raw cow or goat milk applied to each eye. I recommend treating both eyes even if only one is showing signs of infection, by the way. Pinkeye is so contagious, that treating only the infected eye will usually result in having to treat the other eye within a short time anyway, so might as well do both from the beginning.
Raw cow or goat milk is loaded with immunity boosting probiotics, just like human breastmilk. These beneficial bacteria work immediately on contact to crowd out and eliminate the pathogens at the source of the infection. Reapplication every hour or so should eliminate the infection quickly, perhaps not quite as fast as breastmilk, but still faster by a long shot than getting to the doctor and filling a prescription.
If you do not have access to raw milk in your community for whatever reason, the clear, liquid part of yogurt or kefir (whey) can also be used as a fast home remedy. Yogurt and kefir are cultured with beneficial bacterial strains and carefully dropping a few drops of this liquid whey into the eyes will produce the same “crowding out” effect of the pathogens. Powdered whey mixed with water does NOT work as there are no live probiotics in such a heavily processed and denatured food. Pasteurized milk also does not work for the same reason.
Getting Pinkeye A Lot? You Need This Supplement
If you find that any members of your family are suffering from pinkeye on a frequent basis, consider adding a fermented cod liver oil supplement to your daily regimen (click here for the best quality sources).
Deficiency in vitamin A, one of the most critical vitamins for optimal eye health, can result in frequent pinkeye infections. Fermented cod liver oil has a healthy dose of natural vitamin A in it and is low heat processed, unlike other cod liver oils on the market where the natural vitamin A is destroyed by heat or chemical processing so synthetic vitamin A is added back in. The same goes for multivitamins which have synthetic vitamin A – not the natural, true vitamin A in fermented cod liver oil. Also note that beta carotene is not true vitamin A. It is a precursor that the body must convert to true vitamin A and many people simply do not make this conversion very well especially if they have any sort of digestive problem.
I simply cannot remember the last time someone in my home had pinkeye since we incorporated fermented cod liver oil into our diet many years ago!
If for some reason the home remedy described in this article does not resolve the infection quickly (usually within 24 hours), the infection may be viral in nature or related to some other underlying condition and seeing a doctor is recommended.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, author of Get Your Fats Straight