Well Being

Breast Milk Cures Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

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Two nights ago my preschooler complained that her right eye hurt and felt itchy. Sure enough, the inner corner of the eye was red and swollen with pus. Those are typical signs of bacterial conjunctivitis, commonly called “pink eye.”

Fortunately, one treatment for pink eye is painless and free: breast milk! With clean hands and my nipple rinsed with plain water (no soap), I simply hand-expressed some milk into my daughter's eye. That sounds complicated and looks a bit ridiculous, I admit, but it's a lot easier and cheaper than going to the doctor for prescription eye drops.

The trick is to have the child lean back with her head in your lap. Have her close her eyes. Express a few drops of milk onto the affected eye, then briefly and gently open the child's eye or have the child blink to get the breast milk in the eye. Of course, you can always use a sterile cup and eye dropper rather than expressing directly into the child's eye. Continue this treatment three or more times per day until the infection clears up, and seek medical attention if the condition worsens. There are several different causes of pink eye–a virus, bacteria, an allergy, a foreign object in the eye, a plugged tear duct or a scratched eye. Breast milk works on bacterial conjunctivitis, and improvement can be seen within hours of starting treatment.

Pink eye is quite contagious. I treat the child's unaffected eye and even preventatively treat my other child's eyes too. There's no harm in doing so, and I'd much rather spare each child another infection. We also wash hands frequently to prevent the spread of the infection.

My child's pink eye cleared up in less than two days, allowing her to go to back to preschool yesterday without missing any days.

Don't take my word on treating pink eye with breast milk though! Consult your doctor, and check out this link which explains the healing powers of breast milk:

A particular antibody in the breast milk, called immunoglobulin A, prevents the pink eye bacteria from attaching to the mucosal surface of the eye. This limits the growth of the bacteria, helping to end the eye infection.

See my follow-up article for more medical evidence to support this natural remedy for pink eye and blocked tear ducts: “Using Mother's Milk to Treat Eye Conditions.”

That's yet another advantage of breastfeeding!

Do any of you swear by this remedy too?