If you work with children, you know how contagious pink eye is. It only takes one child to bring the infection into school before it is quickly spreading around the building. While pink eye is more common in children, adults are also susceptible—especially if they are around children. A quick trip to the doctor’s office and a prescribed medicine will kill the infection. However, is this illness one that can be trusted by nature to heal instead? Some home remedy websites claim that using tea bags will cure pink eye, and that it isn’t necessary to visit a doctor for mild cases. Let’s find out if this aliment is better left to a doctor’s opinion or if tea bags are just as effective.
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is in infection of the conjunctiva that causes the eye to become red and puffy. A medical informational website, Web MD, explains that the conjunctiva is “the mucous membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface” and, when infected, turns from clear to red. Pink eye, in most cases, is not threatening; however, it still causes a lot discomfort. The disease is spread by lack of hand washing and is a result of coming in contact with someone already infected. A medicated cream or eye drops are known to help clear up pink eye, but, according to Web MD, “Lukewarm chamomile tea, administered with a sterile eyedropper as an eyewash, can revive tired, bloodshot eyes and treat mild conjunctivitis.” Chamomile tea is known to have many proven health benefits, but can we trust it to safely alleviate pink eye?
On a natural-remedies website, Cultured Palate, one author claims that, in her family, trips to the doctor’s office for pink eye stopped once she began using tea bags. Cultured Palate states, “place the teabag [after it has cooled down] on the affected eye and leave it for at least 5 minute [or up to] 20 minutes. Periodically […] gently squeeze the teabag so the tea puddles on the closed eyelid. It is fine to let the tea get into the eye […] it will actually aid in the healing.” While the author and her children had success from this remedy, unfortunately there is no medical evidence supporting that tea bags are a safe or effective way to cure pink eye. If you are interested in giving tea bags a try, Cultured Palate explains that the infected individual should “repeat [the process] 3-4 times per day until the eye clears up [because] The tea helps to clean the goop out of the eyes and also soothes the swelling and irritation by drawing out the infection.” Doctors might not condone this method, but many mothers still swear it works for mild cases.
Verdict: Fiction. Despite personal accounts of success, pink eye is an infection that needs proper attention from a medical professional in order to be treated efficiently. While many people say they have had success with tea bags curing pink eye, there is not enough scientific evidence to back up their claims. If you suffer from allergies or eye redness that is unrelated to pink eye, speak with your doctor about the use of chamomile tea to help alleviate your symptoms. For the meantime, to avoid pink eye, be sure to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes or face—your conjunctiva will thank you.
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Have you tried this pink eye remedy before?