How to Get Rid of Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis) without Antibiotics

Seeing your little one squinting and squirming with discomfort in their eyes is usually not a pleasant experience. If your kid has woken up with swollen eyes, crusted closed with thick discharge, what are you going to do to get rid of pink eye?

Despite a strict regime of personal hygiene, kids are often the first ones to fall prey to a pink eye infection, or conjunctivitis as it’s called. When it goes around, even adults can catch it fast and easy. Understanding this condition will help you better protect yourself and your family.

Conjunctivitis is basically an inflammation in the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of your eyelids and the white portion of the eyeballs, which helps keep your eyelids and eyeballs moist.

pink eye

Causes of Pink Eye

  • Chief causes of pink eye include bacterial and viral infections. Allergies and exposure to chemicals can also produce pink eye symptoms.
  • Viral pink eye is more common, as it is extremely contagious and spreads easily from person to person. While the symptoms cause discomfort, it’s not as harmful and goes away on its own in about a week when the virus has run its course.
  • Bacterial pink eye, also contagious, is less common but more stubborn due to antibiotic-resistant strains.
  • Pink eye is considered contagious for about 2 weeks from the time the symptoms begin to show.
  • Allergy-induced pink eye is not contagious and is caused by exposure to allergens like pollens, dust mites, pet dander, royal jelly or chemicals.

Symptoms of Pink Eye

  • Redness, itching and tearing up of the eyes are the main symptoms of pink eye. The eyes may feel gritty and sandy.
  • Bacterial pink eye is often accompanied by a thick, greenish-yellow discharge, while viral and allergy-induced pink eye is marked by a watery discharge. The discharge may crust overnight, sticking the eyelids shut.
  • Allergy-induced pink eye and viral pink eye often appear similar. While the former affects both the eyes simultaneously, the latter will shift from one eye to the other as the infection spreads.

get rid of pink eye

How to Prevent Pink Eye

  • Early diagnosis can help prevent pink eye from spreading.
  • Observing stellar personal hygiene and regular hand washing will help protect yourself if you’re around someone who has it or limit the chance of it spreading if you’re the one infected.
  • Those infected should not share towels, washcloths or pillows with family members to prevent the infection from spreading to others.
  • Take precaution to protect yourself in the allergy season.
  • Avoid using eye makeup, as infected makeup can re-infect you. Don’t share your eye makeup with an infected person.
  • Same goes for contact lenses, containers and solutions. Avoid using them and sharing them when pink eye is going around.
  • Protect your eyes from exposure to chemicals and pollutants, harsh elements of nature like wind and extreme heat or cold, and dirt to prevent pink eye due to an allergic reaction.

How to Treat Pink Eye

Now that you’ve got a good understanding of pink eye, let’s move on to the treatment options. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics for bacterial pink eye and antihistamines for allergy-induced pink eye.

Due to the many antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, you may not wish to go for antibiotics. If you intend to treat your pink eye symptoms using home remedies, there are many to choose from. Most of these remedies are natural and have been long trusted to combat conjunctivitis.

So take your pick of the given home remedies and get ready to get rid of pink eye (conjunctivitis) without antibiotics.

Method 1: Use Breast Milk (for Infants)

Breast milk has long been considered, culturally as well as medically, an all-inclusive product that not only takes care of a baby’s nutritional needs but also fortifies the immune system. So it makes sense that it’s quite popular with mothers as an eye infection remedy for infants and small babies.

The antimicrobial properties of breast milk are beneficial in treating eye infections like sties and conjunctivitis. The antibody immunoglobulin is especially helpful in treating bacterial conjunctivitis. It prevents the bacteria from attaching to the mucosal surface of the eye, which impedes the bacterial growth and curbs the infection.

breastmilk to get rid of pink eye

This remedy also comes in handy for nursing mothers who may catch the infection from their infants. With the availability of breast milk online, older children and adults may also use this remedy for curing pink eye.

  • Use a sterile dropper to administer 2 drops of breast milk in each eye.
  • Repeat the treatment 3 times a day, continuing until the symptoms subside.

Method 2: Use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

While the first remedy was an unusual one, this one is as common as it gets. The probiotics present in apple cider vinegar (ACV) seem to have unlimited health applications, including clearing up eye infections like pink eye.

Always use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar for this remedy, as it contains the probiotics needed to treat the infection. Not only does apple cider vinegar help fight the infection, it also promotes healing in the sore and swollen eyes.

The only word of caution is that apple cider vinegar will sting for the first couple of minutes after application, though just about the same as generic eye drops. If you can withstand the initial sting, you’re in for substantial relief.

Step 1. Make apple cider vinegar solution

add acv to water to get rid of pink eye

  • Add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of warm water and mix thoroughly.

Step 2. Treat your eyes with the apple cider vinegar solution

acv to get rid of pink eye

  • Dip a sterile cotton ball into the apple cider vinegar solution.
  • Close one eye and wipe it with the cotton ball. Discard the cotton ball.
  • Use a clean cotton ball dipped in the apple cider vinegar solution on the other eye. Discard it after use.

Repeat this activity 3 times a day until the symptoms subside.

Method 3: Use an Herbal Tea Poultice

An herbal tea poultice is another sty remedy that can also be used to treat pink eye. The bioflavonoids present in tea help fight the infection and the tannins soothe the eyes by bringing down the pain and inflammation.

The astringent properties of tannins help draw out the swelling in the eyes. If you wish to boost the astringent quality of your tea bags, add a pinch of non-iodized salt to the cup of water used to brew the tea.

Tea bags can be used as ready-made poultices, but you can also make a poultice using loose tea leaves. Just put 1 teaspoon of the tea leaves of your choice in a small piece of sterile, cotton cloth and tie it in a bundle.

Black, green and chamomile tea along with calendula and fennel tea are the most obvious choices for this remedy. Different teas will exhibit additional medicinal properties to treat the infection and alleviate the symptoms.

Step 1. Steep the black/green/chamomile tea bag in hot water

steep the black tea bag in hot water to get rid of pink eye

  • Place a black/green/chamomile tea bag into 1 cup of boiling hot water.
  • Remove the tea bag after letting it steep for about 3 minutes.

Step 2. Use the tea bag as a poultice over the pink eye

tea bag to get rid of pink eye

  •  Let the tea bag cool down a little before using it as a warm poultice over the swollen eye for about 15 to 20 minutes at time.

Repeat the treatment for 3 or 4 times a day until it treats your infection.

Method 4: Use Sea Salt

A saline solution can be used as an effective eye rinse to treat pink eye. It can easily be made from distilled water and sea salt, which is rich in minerals. The salt composition in the saline solution is similar to that of the body, which makes it safe to use for pink eye treatment.

A saline solution can help wash away the contaminants in the eyes, expelling any allergens that may be responsible for the symptoms. The salt in the saline solution also discourages bacterial growth and can be beneficial for bacterial pink eye. Besides acting as a disinfectant, a saline solution is a well-endorsed astringent that can help draw out the swelling in the eyes, making the ordeal less painful.

Always use distilled water or water purified with a reverse osmosis process rather than ordinary tap water to make a saline solution. If using tap water, boil it thoroughly to eliminate any pathogens. Table salt, which is usually iodized, is not considered a good choice for making a saline rinse for eyes.

You can use this saline solution as an eye rinse or simply use it to wipe your eyes. If using the saline solution as an eye rinse, make use of a dropper or an eye bath device.

Step 1. Make a saline solution

add sea salt to get rid of pink eye

  • Put 1 tablespoon of sea salt in a bowl.
  • Pour 1 cup of boiled water into it.
  • Stir until the salt is dissolved into the water.
  • Let the solution cool down.

Step 2. Wipe your eyes with the saline solution

seas salt to get rid of pink eye

  • Once the solution cools down, dip a sterile cotton ball into it.
  • Wipe one eye with the cotton ball. Discard it after use.
  • Dip another cotton ball in the solution and wipe the other eye. Discard the cotton ball.

Repeat the activity 2 or 3 times a day until the symptoms subside.

Method 5: Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can be applied topically to cure all three types of conjunctivitis – viral, bacterial or allergy-induced. It makes for one of the safest pink eye remedies with negligible chances of any side effects. Thus, it can safely be used to treat small kids and adults alike.

The lauric acid present in coconut oil is responsible for its antimicrobial properties, making the oil effective against bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Coconut oil not only curbs the infection but also alleviates the discomfort in the eyes.

Use organic, virgin coconut oil for best results. Coconut oil doesn’t sting, but your vision may be a little blurry for some time. It’s temporary and nothing to worry about.

coconut oil for pink eye

  • Put a small amount of coconut oil in a container and place it in a bowl of hot water in order to melt it. You can use the microwave, but that will diminish the beneficial properties of the oil.
  • Administer 1 or 2 drops of the melted coconut oil into each eye using a sterile dropper. Sterilize the dropper before using it for another person to prevent potential spread of the eye infection.
  • For small kids who create a fuss, use a sterile wipe. Soak the wipe in coconut oil and wipe the child’s eyes with it. Use a different wipe for each eye and discard after a single use.

Repeat the coconut oil applications, whether by dropper or by wipes, 3 or 4 times each day until the infection clears up.

Method 6: Use Colloidal Silver

While the medical industry has never been much in the favor of colloidal silver, it has garnered just as much popularity for its antimicrobial properties. Due to its effectiveness as a broad spectrum antimicrobial agent, colloidal silver can be used to treat bacterial as well as viral conjunctivitis.

Colloidal silver is essentially a suspension of ionized silver particles in water. It prevents cell respiration in single-celled microorganisms, thereby eliminating them. It also prevents the pathogens from multiplying, thus being effective in curbing any infection.

collodial silver to get rid of pink eye

Colloidal silver naturally boosts the immune system, allowing your body to fight the infection or the allergy causing the pink eye.

Overwhelming anecdotal evidence suggests the effectiveness of colloidal silver against common everyday infections like that of upper respiratory tract, sinuses, eyes and skin. It is especially beneficial against antibiotic-resistant strains.

  • Treat the affected eye(s) with 1 or 2 drops of colloidal silver.

Repeat 3 or 4 times a day, administering the last dose just before bedtime for relief during sleep. Continue until the symptoms subside.

Method 7: Use Coffee

If you were greeted by sore and infected eyes when you woke up in the morning, your morning cup of coffee can come in quite handy. Even though coffee can’t eliminate the pathogens causing the infection in your eye, it can help you deal with the symptoms.

The astringent properties of brewed coffee will draw the swelling out, taking the edge off the pain and discomfort. Coffee also helps stimulate the tear ducts, which will alleviate the dryness in the eyes. Tears are also our body’s natural defense mechanism to flush any infection out of the eyes.

Step 1. Brew coffee and let it cool

brew coffee to get rid of pink eye

  • Add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee to 1 cup of boiling hot water and mix thoroughly.
  • Allow the coffee to completely cool down before use.

Step 2. Irrigate your eyes with the coffee

coffee to get rid of pink eye

  • Use a dropper to irrigate your eyes with 1 or 2 drops of the cooled coffee.

Repeat 3 or 4 times a day until the symptoms subside.


  • Colostrum, the first milk produced by the mother after the child’s birth, is much richer in antibodies than the mother’s mature milk and can be used to treat pink eye in newborns.
  • If you can’t stand the sting of apple cider vinegar in your eyes, use a weaker solution and wipe your eyes more frequently. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into 1 cup of water to make a weak apple cider vinegar solution.
  • When wiping the eyes or applying a poultice, use a different cotton ball or tea bag for each eye to minimize the chance of spreading the infection from one eye to the other.
  • Don’t squeeze the tea bag before using it as a poultice. The steady release of the tea from the tea bag is beneficial to the eyes.
  • Always use sterile water for preparing an eye wash or rinse to prevent any chances of further infection. Used boiled water to make the rinse and let it cool down.
  • Although the infection should clear up within a couple days, the use of colloidal silver should be discontinued after a week even if the infection isn’t gone.
  • Fresh cut slices of raw potato can also be applied to the affected eyes for a soothing effect.


Summary of How to Get Rid of Pink Eye without Antibiotics

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