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How to Treat a Cold in Your Eye

By Hillary Marshall ; Updated July 27, 2017

A cold in the eye, or conjunctivitis, can be treated at home in most cases. In fact, in most cases the problem will clear up on its own without medical intervention in about seven to 10 days. That said, to alleviate the uncomfortable and annoying symptoms that come along with a eye cold, there are a few things that you can do at home.

  1. Take out contact lenses if you wear them. Wear your glasses until your eye cold is completely cleared up. When you are symptom free for 24 hours, you can start wearing contact lenses again. It is best to use a new pair of contact lenses, but if that is not an option, make sure the pair that you have has been thoroughly sterilized before you wear them.

  2. Avoid touching your eyes. Do not rub them or scratch them with your hands at all. Any time you touch them you risk spreading the infection or making it worse. In many cases you can keep the infection isolated to one eye if you do not touch that eye. Wash your hands frequently, especially when treating your eye cold.

  3. Apply a warm or cold compress to your eye. In this situation, warm or cold is fine, and you can choose which to use by preference. That said, when you have an eye cold, a warm compress may feel more soothing, because it can help alleviate redness and swelling. A cool compress may help numb and burning you are experiencing. You can also alternate between the two.

  4. Clean your eye regularly. Wet a clean cotton ball with warm, sterile water, and gently sweep it across your eye from the inside corner toward the outside corner. Use a new cotton ball each time you wipe your eye so you avoid reintroducing any germs back into the eye.

  5. Use a soothing eye drop to alleviate any pain caused by a cold in the eye. Many stores sell a homeopathic or natural eye drop that can help alleviate pain. Look for something that contains Belladonna, which is a natural topical pain reliever.

  6. Call your doctor if any of the following occurs: vision loss, you have any type of immune deficiency, your eye lid is swollen, symptoms are persistent after 72 hours, you have a sensitivity to light, moderate to severe pain develops, drainage that is thick, yellow and persistent, fever develops or eye lids are red. Any of these things could be a sign of a more serious condition or infection.

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