Tea Bags – A Natural Remedy for Pink Eye

Tea Bags - A Natural Remedy for Pink-Eye

What do you do when your child wakes up with a red crusty eye (sometimes crusted shut) that is scratchy feeling, swollen and watery?

Or worse, your child wakes up with two, red crusty eyes that are scratchy feeling, swollen and watery?

Before I tell you what I do, let’s diagnose the problem.

I am sure most of you know from the symptoms, that it is probably pink eye or conjunctivitis. Not only is conjunctivitis uncomfortable but it is also extremely contagious. It can be a nightmare for a mother!

3 Types of Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids – also known as the conjunctiva. There are 3 types of pink eye:

1. Viral – Pink eye that is viral normally affects one eye and then a few days later the second eye becomes affected. The discharge with viral pink eye is usually watery.

2. Bacterial – Pink eye caused by a bacterial infection will affect both eyes at the same time and the discharge is usually yellow-green and thicker.

3. Allergy – Pink eye may also be caused by an allergic reaction.

Since pink eye is so contagious, good hand washing should be practiced, avoid sharing towels and avoid touching the eyes with your hand (which is especially difficult for children)!

What do I do when someone wakes up with pink eye?

When our oldest son was very young, he had pink eye. Being the concerned mother, I took him to the doctor who prescribed an eye ointment. Later, while relaying to a sister-in-law how difficult the ointment was to apply, she asked if I had tried teabags. Being skeptical, I dismissed the natural remedy until our next bout with pink eye. With the next outbreak, not wanting to apply the ointment again,  I gave the natural remedy a try. I am happy to report that I have not been to the doctor because of pink eye since – that was 26 years ago!

I reach for black tea teabags now! The earlier the treatment is started the quicker the results are seen.

The procedure is simple:

1. Make a cup of tea using a teabag with black tea in it. To find organic tea from my affiliate partner, click here.

2. Allow the teabag to steep a few minutes in the hot water.

3. Remove the teabag from the cup of water but do not squeeze.

4. Allow the teabag to cool so that it is still warm but not so hot that it will burn. Remember, the eye area is sensitive so have the teabag very warm but not hot.

5. Place the teabag on the affected eye and leave for at least 5 min. – I have the child lie down on the sofa with eyes closed and a hand-towel draped around their neck and face so the excess tea does not drip on their clothes or the sofa. If the child tolerates this well, I let them lie with the teabag on the eye (or eyes) for as long as possible – usually 15 – 20 min. Periodically, I will gently squeeze the teabag so the tea puddles on the closed eyelid. It is fine to let the tea get into the eye and it will actually aid in the healing.

6. Repeat 3 – 4 times per day until the eye clears up – usually within 1 day there is remarkable improvement.

The tea helps to clean the goop out of the eyes and also soothes the swelling and irritation by drawing out the infection.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I do not pretend to give medical advice but I do want to share what works for me – I hope it helps you.

Sources: Alternative MedicineWikipedia

Photo Credit © Depositphotos.com/nxti74

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  1. says

    I love how honest you are about your first reaction to things. This home remedy sounds great. I’m passing it onto my niece, who has this about once a year (she needs to stop sharing her mascara with her friends!)

  2. MQ says

    That’s a great remedy–and you get a cup of tea to boot! I use this for allergy eyes. I live in central TX, also known as the allergy capital of the country, so I have frequent occasions to use the trusty teabags and the neti pot.

  3. says

    I found this article on the Village Green site and enjoyed it very much. Like you, I battled with those dreadful eye drops — I think I offered 10 cents per eye, each time, if the child would stay still. Tea bags would have been so much easier — and cheaper! But I’ll remember it for next time, because pink eye is just one of those things you literally wake up with some days.

  4. SJ says

    I had the same advice given to me by a doctor who grew up and trained in Guyana, except she recommended steeping chammomile tea and putting it in my eye via eye dropper.

  5. Bonnie says

    We cure pink eye with two drops of Colloidal Silver – 10 ppm about 2 or 3 times a day. Great for Stys too.

        • says

          I’ve used colloidal silver in my own eyes – it’s safe. I’m not sure of the strength – I made it myself with an electrode kit, but I just put some in a small dropper bottle & put it directly in my eye, to help with inflammation (not sure if it was infection, or “pink eye”, but it did help.)
          They put silver nitrate drops in newborn babies’ eyes (or they used to) as a common preventative – I’d be more cautious about that, but it does the trick & safer than routine anti-biotics.

  6. Susan Brown says

    I did chamomile tea bags last night and it caused my eyes to itch. Is this a good sign or a bad one? I haven’t continued just in case I am allergic…

    • Lily's Mom says

      Chamomile is an herb/flower. It’s the tannic acid in black tea that has anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. Wet tea bags are also good for many skin irritations, human and pets.

  7. MommaLaura says

    This also works for styes. I used to get lots of styes when I was a kid as an allergic reaction to grass. Teabags worked every time.

        • says

          Kenzie, I have used lipton tea without any problems. I have also read that some residue of pesticides left in the tea can harm your scobi so I try to use the organic tea from my affiliate, Mountain Rose Herbs. That said, when I run out of tea from MRH, I use lipton until I get more from MRH 😉

  8. says

    Thank you sooooo much, I just woke up having a slightly swollen, red and goopy eye and my mother advised me to apply apply some ayurvedic honey eye drops into my eye to calm down the pain, swelling and redness. I stupidly agreed. after taking those drops my eye began to swell even more and become more red. I must admit I did cry because today is the 31st and I thought I was going to have to ring in the new year with a terrible red, swollen and painful eye. After trying your remedy my eye is less swollen and painful, yay!!! All I need now is some clear eyesdrops to make my eye look somewhat normal. Thank you!!!!

  9. Akhila says

    Hi, How does Tea actually work to reduce conjunctivitis? Does it just reduce the inflammation and other symptoms or does it cure the problem?


  10. ra says

    Yesterday when my two eyes were NORMAL, my mum gave me the last two teabags – one for each eye. There were no more teabags left and the shops were closed that night (11pm). It was in the summer so I cooled my eyes using my teabags for about 5-10minutes. I had to come out to turn on the fan as I forgot so I had took out my teabags then lost one teabag along the way. I had no choice but to go back to bed with one teabag on one eye and fell fast asleep. The next morning, the one eye that I put the teabag on was fine but strangely, my other eye was a bacterial pinky eye and I did put on herbal teabag for 5+ minutes when that eye was normal before turning on the fan as it was too hot. I understand that teabag was supposed to cure pinky eye but… how did I still got a pinky eye if I didn’t use makeup or even touched my eyes in any way and when I know for sure that I’m NOT allergic?

    • says

      Hi Ra, have you washed your pillowcases and sheets? You could be contaminating yourself through one of these or by inadvertently touching your eye without thinking about it. I hope this helps and you will get better quickly. I have found that black tea bags work much better than herbal ones.

    • Guadalupe says

      I have school the next day and I can’t miss it. Do you think this will last for 8 hours with the help of some eye drops?

  11. Sara says

    Just a quick question is this for viral too.
    I would use anything to stop the pain and be able to be in a light room again.

  12. Big John says

    Ok! I NEVER went for these”home remedies” they all seemed like hoopla to me. but i woke up with the goo and had to be at work in a few hours! I work as a monster in a theme park so i was not looking forward to make-up with this. So i tried it..WOW!!! fast , easy, cheap and effective!! I an so happy for people like you who are using the internet to help and uplift others!!! THANK YOU!!!..and cheers!!

  13. OlgaP says

    That’s kind of what my parents did when I was little and I do that for my kids as well for any kind of eye irritation. We just steep the black tea as strong as possible, cool it some and use cotton balls to keep on eyes, you can continue soaking the eyes with new sets of cotton balls as long as you have tea left, It tends to clean out the goop much better and promotes healing and reduces swelling. Good Luck everyone!

  14. Savannah Grant says

    I am currently experiencing pink eye for the first time and have been looking all over the web to see what my help get rid of this nastiness. Having a question about the tea, is green tea a fine source to use for pink eye?

  15. Truth says

    People have known about the topically astringent, anti-microbial and soothing effects of tea including for eye ailments, believe it not, for hundreds if not thousands of years. From China to Greece and everywhere in between this is actually a really common “home cure.” Also, you are totally right that black tea is much better suited for such a use case. God bless.

  16. Guadalupe says

    I have school tomorrow and I can’t miss it considering its my first year in highschool. I’ve literally have been stuck with pink eye for a week. How long does this work?

  17. Shiran Levi says

    Your post is very nice and informative post we are also work same in this field and welcome you to visit our website. Thanks for your very nice and really a informative post.

  18. Liam says

    My dad is a doctor and I can vouch for this method. Definitely works wonders. Wouldn’t use it to replace medicated eye drops but it’s great in conjunction with medications. Works great for styes, too. Had a nasty one on a couple week long trip in grade six. Told my mum and she had the nurse try tea bags. Cleared it up in a couple days.

  19. tina says

    I’ve been suffering with the pink eye for long period of time I find that eye drops doesn’t help very much and I’m bk at the gp within a week at a time. The only tea I drink is herbal tea may I use that to see if it helps it’s green tea with lemon. The doctor keeps telling me it’s allergy related which will not go away I know he talking silly as I’ve had allergy all my life and not gotten pink eye cause of it. Please help


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