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Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the delicate membrane that covers the white of the eye and lines the eyelids (the medical term for this membrane is the conjunctiva or the conjunctival membrane).


Some or all of the following symptoms may be present:

  • A gritty feeling in the eyes 
  • Red, burning, itchy eyes that may discharge heavy, sticky pus. Eyelids may be stuck together upon waking in the morning as the discharge has dried on the eyelashes and lids overnight  
  • Excess tear production  
  • Blurred vision 
  • Some people become sensitive to light 
  • Symptoms of infectious conjunctivitis may start in one eye and spread to the other, and may be accompanied by symptoms of respiratory infection (e.g. sore throat, sneezing) especially in babies and young children
  • An itchy, runny nose may accompany the symptoms above when the conjunctivitis is allergic in nature, and the eyes may also become puffy and swollen. In allergic conjunctivitis, both eyes are normally affected simultaneously.


Viral infections of the eyes are the most common causes of conjunctivitis.  

Allergens that may cause conjunctivitis include pollens, grasses, dust mites, animal fur and moulds. Less frequently, food allergies may contribute to the problem.

Contact irritants such as chlorine may also be involved, and irritation from the use of contact lenses may be a factor for some people.

Diet and lifestyle

  • A cold compress may help to relieve the symptoms of conjunctivitis. Unless you are allergic to plants from the Asteraceae/Compositae families (e.g. daisies, echinacea), natural therapists sometimes recommend an eyewash or compress using chamomile tea. To make this, pour boiling water over 1-2 chamomile teabags and allow to steep for 20 minutes before removing the teabag; dip cotton balls in the cooled liquid and use them to soothe and wash the eyes. Use the eyewash 2-3 times per day, making a fresh batch each time to avoid contamination. 
  • If dust or irritants have caused the problem, flushing the eyes with saline solution to remove them may help. Take steps to protect your eyes from further irritation. For example, use eye protection when cycling, swimming, or using industrial materials such as chemicals or powdered cement. 
  • Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious. Unless you take preventive measures, the condition may spread to your other eye or to other people. 
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands often and well, and keeping them away from the infected eye.  
  • Avoid sharing bedding, towels, face washers or handkerchiefs with other family members.  
  • Infectious conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so contact with others should be avoided. For example, children with infectious conjunctivitis should be kept home from school. 
  • Keep your home clean and well ventilated to reduce the build-up of dust mites, animal hair and mould.

Important notes

Consult your healthcare professional if:

  • Swelling, itching and redness of the eyes develops suddenly and is accompanied by hives, breathing difficulties or stomach cramps. Seek urgent medical assistance. This may be symptomatic of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction).
  • Your eyes become red when you wear contact lenses; you may need to switch to a different form of lens or lens solution, or you may need to wear your contact lenses for shorter periods of time 
  • You experience blurred or hazy vision 
  • One eye is exceptionally sore, watering or producing pus; a foreign body may be lodged beneath the eyelid 
  • Your conjunctivitis recurs frequently or appears to be getting worse after a week of home treatment 
  • Your new-born baby's eyes are inflamed and are not producing tears

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Hello conjuntivitus is in ur eye not ur arm and can be caused by smoke, dirt, flu
Anonymous 03 May 2015
Hi Jane,
Thanks for your post.
Allergic conjunctivitis is when the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covering the white of the eye (conjunctiva) becomes inflamed due to a reaction to allergy-causing substances (dust, mold pollen etc). As you stated, the symptoms associated such as redness, itching, swelling and exudate can be very distressing for your grandson .
It's always a good idea to see your health care professional to ascertain the cause of the conjuctivitis. For allergic conjunctivitis cold tea compresses may be helpful. My colleague on her previous post recommended cold compresses such as teabags of calendula and eyebright. Make up a tea using the dried calendula and dried eyebright, let it cool down, soak a cotton ball and use it to “wash” the eye. It’s very important to use a fresh cotton ball for each swipe of each eye. Start from the inner corner of the eye and swipe to the outer edge.
I would also suggest nutritional support with nutrients such as vitamin c, bioflavinoids and probiotics for the body’s immune allergy response, however dose should be dependent on your grandson’s age and will need to be advised by a health practitioner. I wish you all the best. Michelle (a Blackmores naturopath)
My grandson has allergic conjunctivitis which is quite severe. he has had it checked and diagnosed by specialists has has investigative time in hospital. It is distressing to see him so uncomfortable and for him to suffer so. Can you suggest treatment which could make it easier.
Anonymous 17 Jun 2014
Hi Luke,
Thanks for your post. Cold compresses such as teabags can bring relief to “pink” eyes. It's always a good idea to see your health care professional to ascertain the cause of the conjuctivitis. You could also try washing the eye with a cold calendula and eyebright tea. These two herbs are traditionally used as eye remedies. Make up a tea using the dried calendula and dried eyebright (available from health food stores), let it cool down and then you could soak a cotton ball and use it to “wash” the eye. It’s very important to use a fresh cotton ball for each swipe of each eye. Start from the inner corner of your eye and swipe to the outer edge. I’ve found this a very effective remedy for conjunctivitis. Leanne (a Blackmores naturopath)
I have had it 2times now an using wet teabags on the eye helps with the sting and brings the crap out of the eye to make it feel better
Anonymous 28 Oct 2013