Eye infections are a common occurrence, especially during seasonal changes. As the weather gets drier and colder, so does the incidence of eye infections.
There is an increased susceptibility to allergy, common cold virus, and bacteria that are usually responsible for these eye infections. These eye infections occur at any age but are especially common in children as they are most exposed.
Exposure to allergens is the most common cause of these eye infections. Allergens such as smoke, fumes, dust, pollen, and chlorine from the swimming pool have been implicated in eye contamination. In the tropics, the dry atmosphere is usually accompanied by high temperatures.
Thus, children and adults tend to spend a lot of time in the pool and get exposed to chemicals like chlorine. Viruses and bacteria are the other common causes.
Common symptoms of eye infections
Common eye infections include
The majority of these eye infections are self-limiting i.e, they resolve on their own without medical intervention within a few days or weeks. However, they can be very uncomfortable and even painful a time. Hence, managing the symptoms is needed.
The need for prescription medications is usually not required, especially at the early stage, as simple home remedies are very helpful and cost-effective. Also, as mentioned earlier, allergy plays a vital role in these infections.
So avoiding exposure to allergens can go a long way in preventing these infections. Helpful home remedies for different eye infections are discussed below.
Blepharitis is inflammation of the margin of the eyelid usually caused by an allergy but may also be caused by bacteria (ulcerative blepharitis). It is usually not contagious and manifests as greasy eyelid and lashes, blurred vision, redness, itchiness, swelling of the eyelid, watery eyes, sticky eyes.
Sticky eyes are easily noticed in children first thing in the morning as it’s usually hard to open the eyes because of the hardened discharge around the eyelashes.
Blepharitis is associated with complications such as loss of eyelashes or irregular eyelash growth, chalazion, and stye.
Chalazion (and stye) is a meibomian cyst or lump on the eyelid or its margin due to gland blockage or infection of the oil gland in stye. Like blepharitis, it is not contagious and is more common in adults than children.
Chalazion should never be mistaken for stye as they are two different conditions, though they have a similar appearance (small lumps). A distinction between the two conditions is where chalazion is painless. A stye is very painful.
These three eye conditions are usually managed similarly because the major goal here is to free the blocked oil glands.
Note- avoid popping the pimple that appears in chalazion and stye as this will worsen and spread the infection. Instead, free up the oil gland by doing the following.
There are three key things to do here; warm compress, eye massage, and cleaning.
The heat from the compress will help increase blood circulation in the eye area and thus promote healing. It will also help to loosen and soften secretions around the eyes.
How to do a warm compress
This should be done immediately after the warm compress. If properly done, it can help push out oily secretion from oil glands towards the eyelid.
How to properly massage the eye
This will help to clear the oily secretions formed on the lid after warm compress and massage and thus prevent the eyes from sticking together.
A typical way of cleaning the eye
Note- only use mild shampoos as any other with a stronger detergent can further irritate the eyes. To be safe, I would go for baby shampoo.
Lastly, on blepharitis, stye, and chalazion, some studies claim that taking diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids will help improve the functioning of the meibomian gland and thus unclog the oil glands.
Examples of diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish and other seafood, nuts, and seeds such as walnut, flaxseed. Also, plant oils such as canola oil, flaxseed oil, and soybean oil are a rich dietary source of omega-3 fatty acid.
This is an inflammation of the thin membrane that covers the white of the eye and lines the inner eyelid.
It can affect one or both eyes and is a very contagious infection. The noticeable symptoms of this condition include;
The most common causes of conjunctivitis are allergies, virus, and rarely bacterial infections.
During the dry season, there is an increased spread of pollutants and a higher risk of getting a pink eye. This is especially common with children in daycare settings. This should not be confused with a blocked tear duct, which is common in the newborn as both conditions have similar symptoms.
The virus implicated in conjunctivitis is the same as the one that causes common cold (adenovirus); hence, the name “eye flu”. Most viral conjunctivitis occurs concurrently with cold or after recent flu. However, it can also be caused by other viruses.
Bacteria rarely cause conjunctivitis, but when it happens, it can be easily distinguished by the type of discharge produced. Viral conjunctivitis produces clear white discharge. Bacterial conjunctivitis produces purulent colored discharge. Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria responds to antibiotics, while those caused by the virus do not.
In most cases, conjunctivitis does not require medications and is usually allowed to run its course till the body’s natural defense kick in. However, this can be very uncomfortable hence the need for simple home remedies. The following remedies have been proven to help with associated symptoms.
The most crucial practice here is good eye hygiene; keeping the eye clean at all times is essential. Check under blepharitis for how to properly clean the eye. Effective home remedies for managing conjunctivitis include;
Honey is a powerful antioxidant and antibacterial agent that helps to promote healing in a variety of cases, including conjunctivitis. Using honey as an eyewash helps reduce redness and eventually clear the eyes
How to use honey eyewash
Note- if it’s only one eye that is affected, keep the procedure away from the other. If both eyes are affected, prepare different solutions for each eye. This helps to prevent cross-contamination.
Adding a drop of the viscous honey directly into the eye will also help clear conjunctivitis through natural tearing. Ensure the honey drop being used doesn’t have particles in it, as this can further irritate the eye.
The tea plant is an excellent antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation. As a result, it’s useful in conjunctivitis management.
Tea contains tannin, a powerful antioxidant that helps relax eye muscles and reduce swelling.
How to use a tea bag in conjunctivitis?
Using potato slice on the eye will help reduce burning sensation and relax eye muscles. This is done by cutting the potato into slices and placing the slice on closed lid for 5 minutes or more.
Extract gotten from jasmine flower will help reduce irritation and inflammation. The ingredient responsible for its action can be gotten by soaking jasmine in water for at least 12 hours. Since this extract will be used on the eye, ensure only clean water is used. The extract gotten can then be used as an eyewash and/or eyedrop.
Turmeric is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory drug because of the curcumin present in it. This is especially useful in conjunctivitis, as reducing inflammation is the goal here.
How can it be used?
The saltwater solution has an antiseptic property that can help to cleanse the eyes. Simply add a pinch of salt to a glass of warm water and use it to irrigate the eye.
Coriander seed contains lots of vitamins, especially vitamin C, that act as antioxidants and promote healing. It helps to reduce swelling, alleviate pressure from the eye area.
How to use coriander seed?
This is a fiber crop used for the oil because of its antioxidant feature. It helps with the itching sensation in the eyes, reduces pain and inflammation.
How to extract the oil
This tea contains a flavonoid that can help with inflammation. Therefore, using extract gotten from this tea can help clear redness and pain associated with chamomile.
As with honey, this treatment should not be used in infants and younger children as it has been linked to botulism.
To prepare this tea
It is a mild antifungal and antibacterial agent used for treating eye infection related problems such as redness, dryness, tearing, and burning sensation.
How to make a suitable boric acid solution for the eyes
This is a great soother that relieves pain, inflammation, and stinging sensation associated with conjunctivitis.
Aloe vera doesn’t contain any chemical known to irritate the eye, so this is a great fit for people that are hypersensitive. Applying aloe vera gel every night before bed can be very helpful.
This is one home remedy you likely already have in your medicine cabinet at home. Using eye drops that lubricate and stimulate natural tear production can be helpful in clearing debris from the eyes.
Just ensure it’s not an antibiotic or any eyedrop used for serious eye conditions as this could mask the real cause of the condition. When applying eye drops, make sure the tip doesn’t come in contact with eyes.
Coconut oil is known to contain vitamins and minerals that prevent itching and redness associated with conjunctivitis. Applying coconut oil on the eyelid will help minimize these effects.
This water is a solution of rose oil in water. It is well known for its antiseptic and antibacterial effect that helps to fight infection.
It is very useful as an eyedrop in conjunctivitis and other eye problems such as cataracts and dry eyes.
Note-some people have reported having an allergic reaction to rose oil. It is therefore advisable to patch test on the inside of your arm 24 hours before use. If there is no sign of allergy, it is safe to apply the water as an eyedrop.
When babies come down with conjunctivitis, it’s usually difficult trying to decide which home remedy is safe for use. This is because some of the remedies used in adults and older children might be considered not safe in babies.
For instance, the use of honey in babies under 6-12 months isn’t advisable as it has been linked to botulism.
The use of breast milk is a safe and effective(sworn by mothers ) home remedy that can be used to manage conjunctivitis in babies. Breast milk is known to contain antibodies, particularly immunoglobin E that prevents bacteria from adhering to the mucosal surface of the eyes.
As a result, this helps to limit bacteria growth. Simply using the liquid to clean the eye is one way to go about it. Also, applying a drop into the eyes can help clear the eyes.
How to safely apply breast milk drop into babies’ eye
Note- If your baby refuses to keep its eye open for you to apply the drop, you can drop it on the inside of the eyes(inner canthus). Immediately the eyes open, the milk will flow in. However, this isn’t as effective as applying directly to the eye.
Mothers on certain medications shouldn’t do this as some drugs are excreted in breast milk. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist first to know if it is safe.
Always remember, any eye infection that you’ve been treating using home remedies for more than a month is long overdue for a doctor’s visit. You need to seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Most eye infections managed using home remedies usually resolve on its own within a few days. The home remedy is to help you manage the symptoms and accelerate recovery.
Also, only use one treatment at a time as introducing multiple chemicals into the eyes can further worsen eye irritation and sensitivity.
Finally, if you keep having a relapse after periods of relief, you need to seek medical assistance to be sure your symptoms are not that of a more serious underlying eye condition.Tags: Eye, home remedies, infection