I learned of this remedy when I took my oldest daughter to a naturopathic physician for pink eye. Since then, I've used it dozens of times.
Many years ago, I took my oldest daughter to a naturopathic physician for a severe case of pink eye. I have used his treatment ever since, and treated dozens of cases of pink eye without doctors. Please be sure to treat the proper condition. If you are at all in doubt of the eye symptoms presented, please consult a physician.
The best and easiest remedy for pink eye is to apply castor oil (seek out sterile castor oil) at the first sign of eye irritation. If you catch it early, this will literally fix it overnight.
To apply, spread castor oil liberally over the upper and lower eyelids. Don’t worry about whether it’s getting into the eye itself, or the inflamed tissues of the underside of the eyelids. I think it seeps into the eye on its own, and would work fine even if it didn’t.
Castor oil is not harmful to the eyes. It was formerly used in ophthalmology before an eye examination to prevent eye irritation.
Applying castor oil to the eye will cloud the vision, so do this at night before going to bed, if possible. On the other hand, don’t delay this treatment either, if at all possible.
Castor Oil Pack
This approach is for more severe cases. Sometimes you won’t catch a case of pink eye early enough to effect an overnight cure just by smearing castor oil around the eye.
Here’s how to treat a more severe case of pink eye: Apply a castor-oil pack to the inflamed eye for 20-minute intervals, three times a day, for a total of one hour a day. Here is the method:
How to Prepare and Use a Castor-Oil Pack
Cut a soft absorbent cloth (preferably disinfected or sterile if acquired from a drug store) to a size where, when folded to four thicknesses, it will be large enough to cover the eye.
Saturate this cloth with castor oil and apply to the eye.
Apply a hot compress over the cloth. You can buy hot compresses at most drugstores. They are plastic bags filled with a gelatinous material that retains heat. Heat the compress as directed before applying to the cloth over the eye. Don’t apply too hot. Don’t make the person being treated uncomfortable. Even if the compress is not terribly hot, you may need to remove it off and on during this treatment if it becomes uncomfortable.
Apply the castor-oil pack for 20 minutes. Do this three times a day, so that the pack is used for a total of one hour a day.
Use Boric Acid Eyewash
For these more severe cases, wash the eye with pharmaceutical grade boric acid ophthalmic eyewash after using the castor-oil pack. Do not use boric acid ophthalmic when you are wearing contact lenses. Consult a medical professional immediately if you experience adverse side effects.
A Helpful Hint for Prevention and Cure: Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Many years ago, I was chatting about the castor-oil treatment for pink eye with an older woman. She told me that her father, a chemist, had always treated his children’s pink eye by administering Vitamin B2, and that her father maintained that the underlying cause of pink eye is Vitamin B2 deficiency.
According to The Complete Book of Vitamins, her father was right. Among the symptoms of B2 deficiency are bloodshot eyes, conjunctivitis, and even cataracts.
My older friend told me that her father’s B2 treatment always cured pink eye for her family, when she was a child.
So, giving the child B2 is likely a good idea, and may be a good preventative of future problems with pink-eye.
A castor oil pack followed by a pharmaceutical grade boric acid ophthalmic eyewash will relieve even the worst cases of pink eye in a couple of days—even without B2 supplementation. But, if possible, give B2 as well.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Sharon Vile (author) from Odessa, MO on June 29, 2013:
Castor oil is a must for every home medicine chest!
Alex Newell on June 28, 2013:
Excellent article. I use Castor Oil Packs for many different problems and using one for Pink Eye makes good sense. I had not realised the B2 connection though