Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the delicate membrane that surrounds the eyes and lines the eyelids. It is usually caused by infection; either by bacteria or viruses. It is commonly called 'pink eye' and some forms are very contagious, so great care needs to be taken with hand-washing and the scalding of eyebaths or any other utensil used to treat the eyes. A child with conjunctivitis will often rub his or her sore, itchy eye, and easily transmit the infection from one eye to the other, or to another person.

ESSENTIAL OILS SHOULD NEVER BE USED ON THE EYES, no matter how they may have been diluted. They can cause irritation or even damage. Instead, use a herbal infusion such as camomile, elderflower or eyebright, or distilled rosewater or cornflower water. Good quality floral waters can be bought from herbalists, and some chemists also sell rosewater. You can make a herbal infusion just as you would make herb teas. Allow the infusion to cool until it is lukewarm and use it to wash the eyes three or four times a day.

Compresses of cottonwool soaked in rosewater, cornflower water or an infusion of one of these three herbs can be placed over the eyes, especially at night, and if you use camomile tea bags to prepare an infusion, the cooled teabag, after it has been used, will make a very effective compress.

Vitamin A and Vitamin C are particularly important for the health of the eyes, and C is, of course, valuable in all infections, so these will help both in the treatment of conjunctivitis, and in its prevention; especially for anybody who has repeated attacks.

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