People should never use essential oils directly on the eye, including as a treatment for pink eye. There is no evidence that essential oils help with this condition.
This article discusses the safety of using essential oils to treat pink eye, as well as which oils may help with pink eye symptoms and other remedies for this condition.
People should not use essential oils on the eyes.
Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is inflammation of the lining of the eyelid and the thin tissue covering the front of the eye. It occurs as a result of a virus or bacteria.
Essential oils are concentrated extracts from plants. According to a
However, a person should never apply essential oils directly to the eyes. Both pure and diluted essential oils can cause irritation or damage to the eyes. For some, they may also cause an allergic reaction.
Certain essential oils
Certain essential oils may help to keep the skin surrounding the eyes clean at a safe dilution, but there is no evidence to suggest this speeds up recovery or treats the infection.
There is currently no evidence that any particular essential oil helps treat pink eye. That said, some eye hygiene products do contain tea tree oil, such as wipes and cleansers.
Anecdotally, some people claim that other oils, such as eucalyptus, peppermint, or myrrh, also treat pink eye. There are no studies proving this. Additionally, oils such as peppermint are very potent and may cause irritation if a person uses them near the eye.
Using essential oils does have risks. It is not safe to use them on the eyes in any situation, but applying them to the skin can also cause symptoms for some people,
- allergic reactions
- contact dermatitis
- increased sensitivity to UV light damage
The authors of a
If someone is planning to use essential oils on their skin, they should always dilute the oils in a suitable carrier oil according to the instructions on the label or the advice of a qualified aromatherapist.
It is also important to perform a patch test on the skin before applying anywhere else, as this can reveal if the oil will cause irritation.
If any essential oil gets into a person’s eye, whether diluted or not, they should rinse the eye under running water for 15 minutes. A person can do this by putting their face beneath a running faucet, allowing water to run over the entire eye.
If essential oil is also on a person’s hands, they should wash their hands with soap and water before touching their face. If any symptoms appear or continue after rinsing the eye, contact a doctor.
Often, conjunctivitis resolves on its own. However, in the meantime, there are safe treatments that can relieve symptoms. These include:
- keeping the eye area clean
- applying cold compresses
- using lubricating eye drops to reduce grittiness
- over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications
While recovering from conjunctivitis, it is important to prevent transmitting the condition. A person can wash their hands before and after touching the eye area, and wash or dispose of anything that comes into contact with it. It is important to avoid sharing personal items, such as towels or bedding.
If an individual has thick pus from the eye, they may have a bacterial infection. Mild bacterial conjunctivitis can also resolve on its own, but if it does not show signs of improvement after
According to the
- light sensitivity
- blurred vision that does not improve after wiping the eyes clean
- painful eyes
- extreme redness
- worsening or persistent symptoms
- symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis that do not improve after 24 hours of antibiotic treatment
Anyone who has a condition that affects the immune system or undergoing treatment that weakens the immune system, should contact a doctor immediately if they have pink eye.
Parents and caregivers should seek medical attention immediately if pink eye develops in a newborn.
It is not safe to use essential oils for pink eye. This is because essential oils are potent and may damage the eyes if someone uses them directly on the eye surface.
At a safe dilution, a person may use certain essential oils to clean the area around the eye, but there is no evidence that this helps treat conjunctivitis.
Most cases of pink eye resolve on their own within a few weeks. A person can reduce the symptoms by keeping the area clean, applying cold compresses, or using OTC products for conjunctivitis and eye irritation.