Breast Milk Cures Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

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?

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    • http://breastfeedingmums.typepad.com Sinead

      Breastmilk is a real cure-all! I have used it to help heal nappy (diaper) rash and also for a blocked baby nose!

      Instead of squirting saline nose drops into my baby’s nose which really upsets him I place a few drops of breastmilk along baby’s top lip and then tilt his head back. He barely notices and it really clears his nose quickly!

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com angela

      I’ve used it for diaper rash but I didn’t realize it was good for a stuffed-up nose too! I will try that some time!

    • http://breastfeedingmums.typepad.com Sinead

      Well I don’t think it’s been medically proven… It’s just one of my own little remedies!

    • http://www.flupatrol.com Grace

      i use it to treat rashes, not just from diapers but skin/facial rash too, and not just the baby’s either.

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com angela

      It truly has amazing healing properties! Why not use it when it works so well!

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    • http://www.cirquelodge.com Mr. Rehab

      It’s very interesting how nature works in such a way that it takes care of it’s ‘injured’. All we have to do is pay a little more attention and we will find the answer to our problems in the place we expect least. Unfortunately for my pink eye I had to buy a cream, the breast milk was sold out :-)

    • Jennifer Duah

      I used it to clear my babies blocked nose and it was soo fast.God indeed is wonderful.

    • L.Rose

      My 1 month old has conjunctivitis and I have been treating it with breastmilk. Within a few hrs. the residue has decreased and she seems to be doing a bit better. I am also including treatment of warm compresses.

    • con

      I’m going to try your idea with my almost 8 months old baby that is having pink eye, but I know that breast milk cures ear infections too.

    • http://bekplunkett.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Wow, I had no idea that breastmilk could be used for any of these. I googled “treat baby eye infection naturally” and this popped up.

      My baby doesn’t have pink eye, but a mild eye irritation that her doctor prescribed prescription eye drops for. He said that if it gets worse, it could travel to her ears, thus the reason for him wanting to prevent that.

      I wanted to see if there was any alternatives to the prescription, since I believe natural is best.

      I’m a little weary of trying this, simply because I’ve never heard of it. It sounds harmless, a bit odd, but I think I will try this tonight before we try the drops!

      If only I hadn’t already spent $50 on that darned prescription…sigh.

    • http://www.doudoubebe.com Michelle Branco

      Yes! And I can confirm that it works great on mom’s eyes too. I woke up this morning with a raging double-eye infection (first time since I was a kid and neither child has it, thank goodness). Well, I didn’t have it in me to go to the drugstore, so I tried a little breastmilk: instantly soothing (none of the sting of drops) and my eyes are well on their way to be being better!

      Nature’s elixir!

    • abi ashiru

      whoever came up with this idea is a genious. i was so worried when i realised my 3 month old boy had conjuctivities, not knowing what to do, i decided to google it’s treatmen and this came up, 12 hrs into starting the treatment, i realised my boy’s eye had started clearing, i could not believe it.God bless this site.

    • http://bekplunkett.blogspot.com Rebekah

      I wanted to follow up on my comment earlier. This really worked! I didn’t have to use one of the prescription eye drops (and ironically enough, the pharmacy took back the un-opened bottle prescription,) and her eye infection is completely gone. Now she only rubs her eyes when it’s bedtime! Yay! Thank you for posting this remedy, because I wouldn’t have known otherwise! I need to read a lot more on your blog and website, simply because I know that there’s probably a lot more on here that I could be using!

    • sofie

      this is so funny. My 14 months old daughter has been having pink eye for 2 days, and i compressed and cleaned her eyes which were better now. But i still wanted to know what can cure pink eye faster and safe for below 2 years old. I called my mom and my mom told me that long long time ago people in her village (she lived in a small rural village in Bangka, Indonesia when she was young) used breast milk to cure pink eye.

      It’s cheap and it’s more effective than any other medication, it’s also safe. So this breast milk thing has been going on and on since hundred years/centuries.

    • Christina

      Can you use frozen breastmilk? I stopped nursing a few months ago but have a stash that is still frozen. Or is the little amount I can still get out now good enough? Thanks!!

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com Angela White, J.D., breastfeeding counselor

      It only takes a few drops per eye, a few times a day, so it could be that you can express enough fresh. I’ve never tried frozen before but it’s worth a try as long as you do not go too long without seeking medical attention.

    • http://bekplunkett.blogspot.com Rebekah

      I would say the little you can get is plenty. It only took a tiny bit. It took my daughter’s nasty infection away pronto, within 30 minutes! I only did it once, and it went away for a few days. Since it was gone, I had forgotten to put more in. A few days later I noticed some more gunk starting to form in her eyes, so I reminded myself to do it twice that day. That was about 6 weeks ago, and we haven’t seen the infection since! I hope that helps!

    • Maya

      I woke up this morning with pink eye and I don’t think I’ve ever had it. I was paranoid my 6 month old might catch it so I googled “breastfeeding and pink eye” and discovered I could actually cure my pink eye with breastmilk. How cool! So I put my own milk in my eye – it burned a little bit, but the red went away right away. Yay!

    • http://babylune.com Eliza

      Thanks for the post, I know it is old but I began looking up home remedies for pink eye in toddlers. My son is slightly over one and does still breastfeed but noticed his eye was very red. I want to try doing this for a day before taking him down to get medicine, especially if it works. I know breastmilk has been known to help many things but I did not know this. Thanks again.

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    • Kensey

      My one month old is getting a goopy eye. My preschooler is getting over pink eye, so I am going to try this and see if it works! I’ll come back and give results. I

    • Sarina

      I have to say that breastmilk really does help with pin eye. My 5 year old had it so I looked it up on the internet and sue enough breastmilk was the ticket. It worked and was gone after two days. Now my 3 year old has it. So I am puttint drops of breastmilk in her eyes. I am sing it for my eyes to just incase and my 1 year olds eyes too. It does burn a little but I would rather it burn a little for a second with natural healing than burn a lot wit medication the drs. made. Breast milk REALLY works!!!!! I put a drop in each eye 4x a day.

    • Brenda

      I recently used this remedy for my twin babies and it worked for both of them! It was gone within a day. It was caused by a virus and they had been treated with Erythrimycin cream a couple times, but it was not taking it away. One of the babies had a reaction to the cream (bad rash) and I needed to find something else that worked quick! I read in a book about the breast milk and remembered someone else telling me about it a long time ago, so I tried it. I’m so glad I did!

    • karen

      I tried breastmilk in my son’s eyes and it made his pinkeye worse. Had to give him drops from the dr to get rid of it.

      • faielyne

        I doubt your breastmilk made it worse. It’s possible that it would’ve gotten worse anyway, the pink eye was not bacterial, or your hands or nipple were not clean. But breast milk is antibacterial by nature and won’t cause an infection.

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    • Sowjanya

      My 4-months boy got pink-eye and we in India use this remedy pretty often even for adults. Nature is wonderful. I got pink eye when I was 25 years old and my mother borrowed few drops of breask milk from neighbour.

    • Jen

      I have only frozen breastmilk left…does anyone have experience with using thawed breastmilk?

      Thanks!

    • Lone

      I use that method too. I just hand express a bit in a clean bowl and use cotton wool to wipe the eyes – taking a clean piece for each eye!

    • Faithful

      I’m totally trying this right now. Put in a few drops in my own eye, it didn’t burn at all, and immediately felt better! Hoping that this nasty pink eye is completely gone soon.

    • mommy of 2

      well i hope the brest milk and pink eye thing work for my i yr old cuz ive been drying my milk and ill tell you what it hurt getting it to produce more than the usual. ill try to keep up dated

    • Sophi

      ok, taking everyone’s advice. Hopefully catching early, my 10 month old has pink eye. I was a nanny for many years and my charge had pink eye a zillion times. I spent a lot of frustrating days fighting her to get drops in. Now I know my LO has it. We were going to go to urgent care in the morning, but was hoping to find some remedy/relief for the night. I stopped nursing a week ago, but luckily still had some milk being produced. Just expressed enough to put on a cotton ball and administer to her eyes. I will post the results tomorrow. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    • http://Yahoo Michelle

      My 3yo woke up with pink eye this morning!! I’m going to try the breast milk. I hope it works I’ll keep you posted :0)

    • Sarah

      My 12 month old came down with a nasty case of pink eye after a long day of travel that included 4 legs on an airplane. Yesterday I put drops of breastmilk in her eyes 4 times and gave her a bath twice, washing her face and eyes with a washcloth very lathered with all-natural non-aintibiotic baby wash. I rinsed her face well each time. This morning she woke up with clear eyes- no pink, no gunk. I’m keeping up the breastmilk drops throughout the day. So thankful to have a natural remedy that works so well!

    • Shaun

      Hi threw milk mixed with honey in my own eye, 50% milk and 50% honey, warm up the milk before putting in, 2 drops in each eye 2-3 times a day. Also I took a cotton buds and put in the baby shower gel and clean my eye lashes with them(including eyelids). 2 days later i have clear, big blue eyes!

    • christie

      I have been trying it all day with no improvement. Thankful I’m a breastfeeding mom. I”m going to the doctor tomorrow. Thanks for the advice though.

    • Jen

      It’s best to consult a doctor before treating your child’s pink eye with breastmilk. Pink eye is not the only condition that can cause your child’s eye to be pink. Sometimes allergies or scratches on the eye can cause symptoms similar to pink eye and you don’t want to waste time with the incorrect treatment. I don’t know if breastmilk in the eye works for pink eye, but I’d be on the safe side and check with your doctor first.

    • Rita

      This is my surefire, go-to, works-like-a-charm cure for pinkeye! I have three sons, and when one gets it, inevitably they all do. The first time they had it, we took them to the pediatrician and got three bottles of expensive drops, which they would complain burned their eyes. The next time, I decided to try the breast milk remedy first – and was floored by the results! Not only is it free and convenient, but it doesn’t sting, and best of all it cleared up the conjunctivitis just as fast as the prescription drops, if not a little bit faster. I was totally surprised. Now when one gets pinkeye, I treat all three as a precautionary measure … and it doesn’t spread. Yay for such an awesome remedy! :)

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    • Michele

      Never heard of this in my life, but I was talking to my daughter in-law, who has 3 boys and one daughter, she was saying that the family was suffering from conjunctivitis and that instead of going to the doctor, she used breast milk for her sons and her husband, to remedy the eye infections.

      She said it took appoximately 1 day for the infection to get better and in 2 days it was gone. I was flabergasted, if I had known this when I was a young mother with 4 boys, I would have used this method, as my family all got conjunctivitis when my boys where young and one ended up in the hospital and was given a medication which made matters worse, in fact my eye sight was ruined because of this eye infection and the medication given took 2 months to work. But I guess you live and learn, next time I know how to remedy the eye infection, I’ll have to borrow some breast milk, from my daughter in-laws, but I’m sure they won’t mind…Mother’s are awesome!and who knew they could medicate naturally their own off-springs!

    • http://www.breastfeeding123.com Angela White, J.D., breastfeeding counselor

      Karen I am sorry to hear that! It’s possible it was viral conjunctivitis and not bacterial, although personally I think breast milk generally helps both kinds. You were wise to see the doctor when the breast milk did not help. Thanks for sharing your experience!