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8 Ways to Prevent Pink Eye

A case of pink eye can be painful, unsightly and frustrating. Luckily some fairly straightforward preventive steps can minimize your risks.

Yesterday's Daily Tip discussed the symptoms of pink eye and who is most vulnerable. Today, we list simple ways to prevent this highly contagious infection of the eyelid and eyeball:

  1. Wash your hands well, often, and always before and after applying antibiotic drops.
  2. Don't touch your eyes with your hands.
  3. If being treated with antibiotic drops, never let the antibiotic bottle touch the affected eye.
  4. Use a new towel and washcloth every day.
  5. Change pillowcases often.
  6. Throw away any eye makeup used while infected, including mascara.
  7. Don't share cosmetics, washcloths and eye products with others.
  8. Keep infected children out of school or daycare until a few days after treatment begins or the infection clears up.

While viral pink eye will resolve on its own in a few weeks without treatment, it can be difficult to distinguish between viral and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Consequently, many doctors prescribe antibiotic eye drops to anyone with pink eye - the antibiotics won't be effective against viral infections, but they may help prevent a secondary bacterial infection. With bacterial conjunctivitis, the antibiotic eye drops usually cause symptoms to clear up within a few days. Pink eye caused by allergies is usually treated with allergy medications and eye drops that relieve itchy eyes.


Worried You Have Pink Eye?

If your eyes are red, itchy or crusty, you may have pink eye. Find out some common symptoms of pink eye, as well as what can cause it.

If you have itchy, red eyes that seem worse than is typically experienced with seasonal allergies, you may have pink eye. Also known as infectious conjunctivitis, pink eye is an inflammation of the membrane (called the conjunctiva) that lines the eyelid and eyeball.

Pink eye can be due to an allergic reaction to pollen, dust or other foreign material in the eye, such as contact lens solution; a bacterial infection, which is more common among children than adults; or viruses, particularly those associated with colds or a sore throat, as well as other childhood illnesses. All types of viral or bacterial pink eye are highly contagious.

The symptoms of pink eye can affect one or both eyes and include:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • A feeling or grittiness or having something stuck in the eye
  • Tearing and discharge (yellow color is often associated with a bacterial cause)
  • Crusts that form on the eyelids overnight


Young children are the most likely to get pink eye, as their rambunctious activity in small spaces provides the perfect circumstances for passing it around. Other people at higher risk for developing pink eye include those with allergies to airborne pollen and those who wear contact lenses, particularly extended-wear brands, as both these groups tend to touch and rub their eyes more frequently.

If you or your children experience any of the symptoms above, visit your physician for an evaluation and diagnosis. To learn how to treat and prevent pink eye, read Monday's blog post.


5 Foods for Healthy Hair!

When it comes to healthy hair, it’s not just the shampoo and conditioner you use that can make a difference. What you eat can have an impact as well. Find out what foods Dr. Weil recommends for healthy hair!

Whole foods rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and biotin may help promote a healthy scalp and hair. Add these foods to your grocery cart - think of them as ingredients in a healthy hair recipe!

  1. Dark leafy greens. Kale, Swiss chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens are good sources of vitamins A and C, which the body needs to produce the oily substance sebum, a natural conditioner for your hair.
  2. Salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids, of which wild-caught salmon is an excellent source, are important to a healthy scalp. Salmon (choose wild Alaskan salmon) is also a good source of protein. If you don't like the taste of fish, try a high-quality fish oil supplement.
  3. Beans and legumes. They are a good source of protein which helps promote hair growth, as well as iron, biotin and zinc. (Biotin deficiencies can occasionally result in brittle hair.)
  4. Nuts. Specific varieties of nuts contain vitamins and minerals that can help promote the health of your scalp. Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium (limit yourself to no more than two Brazil nuts per day). Walnuts provide the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, which may help condition your hair, as well as zinc, which can minimize hair shredding. Cashews, almonds and pecans are other hair-healthy choices. Aim for raw varieties as often as you can, or lightly toast yourself if an added crunch is needed.
  5. Eggs. A good source of protein, which helps prevent dry, weak and brittle hair. Choose organic, omega-3 fortified eggs from cage-free hens.

Seasonal Recipe: Strawberry, Fennel and Arugula Salad

Strawberries are in season – and this salad is a perfect way to present them! Not only are strawberries an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber, they are full of antioxidants that can help promote heart health, and protect against cancer and inflammatory diseases as well. Make this salad for company or for yourself.

Eating with the seasons isn't just a catchphrase. Each season brings new foods just hitting their peak; in this case, strawberries and arugula, some of the welcome early harbingers of spring. In addition to having an incredibly sweet taste, strawberries have anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Get the recipe for Strawberry, Fennel and Arugula Salad!


Minimize Blisters this Sandal Season

Sandal weather means no more socks – and the possibility of blisters caused by friction between your feet and your shoes. Learn how to prevent blisters, and treat them when they occur.

While not usually a major health concern, blisters can be annoying and painful. Whether on your feet or hands, blisters caused by friction or chronic irritation can be prevented by keeping skin dry, wearing sock liners or work gloves, protecting areas where blisters tend to form with moleskin, gel-pad dressing or blister plaster, and addressing an irritated area as soon as symptoms arise.

However, once you have a blister, what's the best way to treat it? If your blister is small, leave it alone - the covering maintains a sterile interior and usually resolves on its own. If your blister is large, I recommend the traditional method of piercing a blister, which can be done in three simple steps:

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands.
  2. Sterilize a needle in a flame until it glows red. After the needle cools, use it to puncture the edge of the blister and then gently press out the fluid. Leave the loose skin in place - the blister will heal faster.
  3. Dab on some antibiotic ointment, diluted tea tree oil or clean your skin with a sterilizing wipe and cover the area with gauze or a gel dressing.


Be certain your tetanus shot status is up to date before piercing a blister; if you are not up to date, make an appointment with your doctor.


Make Your BBQ Healthier in Five Steps!

Grilling is a fun way to cook foods – but isn’t always the healthiest preparation method. Learn how to make your BBQ habits healthier, while still delivering the taste that makes grilling so delicious!

It's delightful to grill outdoors when the weather is warm. Unfortunately, grilling meats can lead to the production of carcinogenic (potentially cancer-causing) chemicals called heterocyclic amines (HAs) as well as unhealthy polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The good news is it is simple to reduce both of these, making your BBQ healthier yet still as tasty for you, your family and your guests.


  1. Limit the quantity of meat you grill, and make grilled vegetables or wild Alaskan salmon the main course.
  2. Pre-cook your foods in the oven or on the stovetop and finish them off outdoors - less grill time means fewer carcinogens.
  3. If you do grill meat, cook it thoroughly, but avoid charring or blackening it (don't eat any blackened parts).
  4. Marinate your meats. Marinade may help reduce HA formation, especially if it's made with spices such as ginger, rosemary and turmeric.
  5. Avoid charcoal lighter fluid or self-starting packages of briquettes in a charcoal grill - they will leave residues of toxic chemicals in your food. A healthy alternative is an inexpensive chimney lighter that uses a small amount of newspaper to ignite a mass of charcoal in a large metal cylinder. Gas grills are good alternatives to those that use charcoal.

Click through to see our Healthy Grilling Visual Guide!


Want a Nontoxic Garden this Spring?

Creating a garden that is free of pests but does not rely on pesticides is simple – and better for your family and the planet! Try these three techniques for a safe, thriving garden this year!
If you are planting a garden, try natural, nontoxic approaches to pest control:

  1. Pyrethrum. This mixture of insecticidal compounds found in some species of African chrysanthemums controls aphids, whiteflies, stinkbugs and mites. You should be able to find pyrethrum products in your local garden center (some will say they contain "pyrethrins.") Check labels carefully to make sure you choose the product intended for the crops you're growing or the pests you're trying to eliminate.
  2. Neem. From the seeds and leaves of the neem tree, Azadirachta indica, which is native to India, the compounds neem contains (such as azadirachtin) act as insect repellents. Neem is nontoxic to animals and humans and beneficial to bees. Although neem products are somewhat more expensive than most synthetic pesticides, they are worth it for both personal and environmental health.
  3. Insects. Consider adding beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantis to your garden (both are commonly sold at garden centers).

Also ask your local garden shop about simple soap solutions you can spray on plants to help eliminate insects, and about pheromone traps (useful against some insects, including Japanese beetles). You can always use netting or pick or brush insects off manually or wash them off with forceful streams of water.


Feeling Anxious? Try This Herb

Anxiety your mental can wreak havoc on and physical health. If physical exercise and mind-body therapies such as breathing aren’t providing sufficient relief, consider this herb.

Feeling anxious is stressful for our bodies and minds. Instead of taking a pharmaceutical to help quell anxiety, consider Kava. Extracted from a tropical plant (Piper methysticum), kava is related to black pepper and native to islands of the South Pacific, where it has a long history of use as a social and recreational drug. Kava is an excellent anti-anxiety remedy - it works quickly to relieve anxiety, often with one or two doses, and has been shown in controlled human trials to be as effective as benzodiazepine drugs (ie. Valium and Xanax). It provides a sedative effect as well.

Because of rare reports of liver toxicity associated with certain types of kava products, no one with a history of liver disease should use kava.  It may have additive effect with alcohol and other depressant drugs, and may interfere with the metabolism of a large number of medications - ask your doctor. Otherwise it is generally safe. You can buy powdered whole kava root to make into tea or other drinks, but I usually recommend extracts standardized to 30 percent kavalactones. Dosage is 100 to 200 mg, two or three times a day as needed.  Don't use it continually over long periods of time (more than a few months).