10 Proven Home Remedies For Eye Infections

Medically reviewed by Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Ayurvedic Doctor
by Pooja Karkala

Eye infections can be particularly discomforting as your eyes hurt continuously. They can itch and go dry, causing constant uneasiness. While medical options can help, it is important to be aware of certain home remedies that may complement the treatment. In this article, we will explore more about eye infections and the home remedies you can try to obtain relief.

What Is An Eye Infection?

An eye infection is usually accompanied by redness and an itching sensation in your eyes. It can affect the following parts of your eyes:

  • Cornea
  • Eyelids
  • Conjunctiva (the area that covers the inner and outer layers of your eyes)

Common eye infections include:

  • Blepharitis – An inflamed and crusted eyelid.
  • Dry EyesThe tear ducts are unable to provide enough lubrication to your eyes, causing redness and irritation.
  • Keratitis – The cornea is inflamed.
  • Pink Eye – Also known as conjunctivitis, it occurs due to irritation or inflammation of the conjunctiva, resulting in redness and itching of the eyes accompanied by tears.
  • Stye – A painful red lump near the edge of the eyelid that looks like a boil or a pimple.

An eye infection can affect any or both of your eyes. Though medication is important, certain home remedies can ease the symptoms and help manage the infection. Make sure you discuss these remedies with your doctor.

Home Remedies For Eye Infections

1. Colostrum (Breast Milk)

Newborns can develop eye infections. Breast milk can effectively manage the symptoms of neonatal eye infections, such as conjunctivitis (1). Colostrum contains high levels of antibodies that can help fight infections and may help alleviate conjunctivitis in newborn babies.

You Will Need

A few drops of breast milk

What You Have To Do

  1. Pour a drop or two of colostrum in the eyes of the infant with a dropper.
  2. Wash the eyes in 5 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat 2 times daily.

2. Essential Oils

Essential oils of tea tree, peppermint, and rosemary possess antimicrobial properties (2). Hence, they may help combat microbial infections and prevent them.

You Will Need

  • A few drops of tea tree oil or rosemary oil
  • 1 liter of hot water
  • A towel

What You Have To Do

  1. Heat a large bowl of water and add 3-4 drops of the essential oil to it.
  2. Cover yourself with a towel and bend over the bowl.
  3. Let your skin absorb the steam for 5-6 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 times daily.

Caution: Do not apply essential oils (diluted or otherwise) around the eyes as they may cause irritation and a burning sensation.

3. Green Tea Bags

Green tea extract is rich in bioactive compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties (3). Using green tea bags may soothe your eyes and reduce the swelling, but there is no scientific evidence to prove that they can treat eye infections. Hence, exercise caution.

You Will Need

2 green tea bags

What You Have To Do

  1. Take two used green tea bags.
  2. Refrigerate them for a while and place them on your eyes for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove them and wash your eyes.

How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 times daily to reduce the swelling and pain.

4. Honey

Honey has been used to treat eye infections like blepharitis, keratitis, and keratoconjunctivitis (4). As honey has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it may help alleviate eye infections.

You Will Need

  • 1 cup of water
  • 2-3 teaspoons of honey
  • A sterilized dropper

What You Have To Do

  1. Boil a cup of water and add a few drops of honey to it.
  2. Stir well and allow it to cool down.
  3. Use a sterilized dropper to put a drop in each eye.
  4. Wash with water after 5 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 times a day.

5. Turmeric

Curcumin is the major bioactive compound in turmeric. Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties can help alleviate the symptoms associated with eye infections (5). Though more randomized clinical trials are needed to establish its therapeutic properties, initial studies have shown promising results. Hence, turmeric can be a good home remedy for eye infections.

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 cup of warm water

What You Have To Do

  1. Boil a cup of water and add a teaspoon of turmeric to it.
  2. Allow it to cool for a while.
  3. Soak a sterile washcloth in this solution.
  4. Use this as a warm compress and wash your eyes after this process.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this at least once a day.

6. Lemon Juice

Sometimes, allergic reactions to substances or a change in the weather can cause eye infections to flare up. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, lemon juice can help fight eye infections and their symptoms (6). However, as there is not enough research to back this up, make sure you discuss this remedy with your doctor.

You Will Need

  • 1 glass of warm water
  • ½ a ripe lemon

What You Have To Do

  1. Extract the juice from the lemon.
  2. Add this to a glass of warm water and mix well.
  3. Drink this up.

How Often You Should Do This

Drink this juice at least once daily.

7. Saline Water

Saline is recommended to treat certain types of eye infections (7). Some believe that this could be attributed to the antiseptic properties of saline. However, there is no research to support this statement. As saline water is similar to teardrops, some state that it can help alleviate eye infections.

You Will Need

  • ½ liter of boiled water
  • 1-2 teaspoons of salt

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the salt with the boiled water.
  2. Rinse your eyes thoroughly with this solution.

How Often You Should Do This

You can wash your eyes with this mild solution several times a day.

8. Vitamin Supplements

Due to a fast-paced lifestyle, your body can become deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. This, in turn, can make you prone to eye infections. Research shows that vitamins A, C, and E can be beneficial for maintaining good ocular health (8).

These nutrients can help prevent any infection or damage to your eyes. You can consume foods rich in these nutrients. Additionally, you can also consume foods like leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, seafood, nuts, and cheese.

Note: Please make sure that you consume supplements after consulting your doctor/health care provider.

9. Castor Oil

In animal studies, the ricinoleic acid in castor oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties, was found to reduce swelling of the eyes (9). The oil can also lubricate your eyes, which may help in alleviating any irritation (10), (11).

You Will Need

  • Castor oil (100% organic, cold-pressed, hexane-free)
  • Sterile washcloth
  • Water

What You Have To Do

  1. Apply castor oil around your eyes.
  2. Soak the washcloth in warm water and place it over your eyelids.
  3. Leave it on for about 10 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 times daily.

10. Cold Compress

Using a cold compress can help alleviate the inflammation and discomfort caused by an eye infection (12). However, it will not treat the infection.

You Will Need

A cold compress

What You Have To Do

  1. Place a cold compress on the affected eye for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Do this two more times.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this procedure 2 times daily until the swelling subsides.

These home remedies can go a long way in helping you deal with the infection. But it always is better to prevent an infection in the first place.

Here are a few prevention tips you can follow:

  1. Refrain from touching/rubbing your eyes with unclean hands.
  2. Do not share your cosmetics, towels, and handkerchiefs with others.
  3. Do not wear contacts overnight.
  4. Keep your contact lens clean and replace them once every three months.
  5. Remove your eye makeup before bed.
  6. Do not share your spectacles with others.
  7. While drying, protect your eyes from dust and pollution.

Use any or a combination of these remedies to help soothe the symptoms of an eye infection. However, it is important to consult a doctor if you suspect you (or your child) have an eye infection to prevent complications. Maintain proper hygiene and follow a healthy lifestyle to help prevent any infection, including that of the eyes.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What causes an eye infection?

Eye infections can be caused by various microbes or bacteria that come in contact with your eyes or the area surrounding them.

How do I know if my eye is infected?

Different types of infections have different symptoms. But the most common sign of eye infection is the redness of the eyes and the presence of a yellowish discharge that can crust over your eyes.

How to cure eye infection in 24 hours?

Most eye infections take a few days to weeks to cure completely. However, if you are seeking quick recovery, consult a doctor who will prescribe the appropriate medication for your condition.

How long does an eye infection last?

Typically, an eye infection can last anywhere from two days to a week. In severe cases, it can last for a few weeks to a month.

How does an eye infection spread?

Most often, an eye infection spreads by hand-to-eye contact. The infection-causing bacteria or microbes on your hands can transfer the infection to your eyes.

Can I use apple cider vinegar for treating eye infection?

Apple cider vinegar is acidic. It contains acetic acid, which may irritate and damage the eyes and the cornea. There is no scientific research to prove that ACV helps in treating eye infection. Hence, it is important to exercise caution. Do not use undiluted ACV. Also, consult your doctor before trying this remedy.

12 sources

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Pooja Karkala

Pooja is a Mass Communications and Psychology graduate. Her education has helped her develop the perfect balance between what the reader wants to know and what the reader has to know. As a classical dancer, she has long, black hair, and she knows the struggle that goes into maintaining it. She believes in home remedies and grandma’s secrets for achieving beautiful, luscious hair. When she is not writing, she learns Kuchipudi, practices yoga, and creates doodles.
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