Can I freeze my makeup to kill off pink eye bacteria?
March 4, 2015 7:03 PM   Subscribe

I've had pink eye multiple times since June 2015. Each time it returns, I bleach my entire apartment and throw away all my makeup, but I can't seem to make it go away permanently.

Obviously, this is getting expensive. Would it work to sanitize the makeup by putting it in the freezer for a few days?

Also, if anyone has had any success getting recurrent pink eye infections under control, I would greatly appreciate any advice. This is getting ridiculous!

(Note: I have already been to the doctor and have antibiotic drops and I have an appointment with an ophthalmologist to rule out any other potential causes.)
posted by figaro to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Pinkeye is generally caused by fecal bacteria. Is there something in your life (small children, unwashed objects, bad water, etc.) that could be placing fecal contaminants in and near your eyes?

Freezing will slow the growth of bacteria but not kill it. To kill it, you'd have to heat it to almost 200F, but that will likely damage the products you're using. But I'd guess your pinkeye has more to do with environmental factors besides makeup.

Possible vectors for fecal contamination:
- sexual partners (are you washing enough before getting intimate?)
- pets sleeping in your bed, cuddling/petting and not washing hands with soap and water
- relying on hand sanitizer (alcohol-based cleansers do not penetrate cell walls of many intestinal/fecal germs) instead of soap and water, or not washing hands thoroughly/often enough
posted by witchen at 7:15 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

You'll have to toss liquidy stuff like mascara or liquid eyeliners. But, if you use pencils and eyeshadows, you can effectively sanitize those with rubbing alcohol. For pencils, use a clean sharpener to take off the old layer (and re-clean your sharpener after), then spray or dip into rubbing alcohol and let air dry. With eyeshadows, gently wipe off the surface and then spray with rubbing alcohol and let dry. All brushes should also be cleaned. If they're natural hair brushes, use a mild shampoo to wash them. For synthetic brushes, you can do the same or dip them in rubbing alcohol and swish them around. If you use a eyelash curler, you can wash it thoroughly and get new rubber pads for it.

Sanitize your car (steering wheel, knobs, etc) and also your workplace desk.

You may also want to see if your ophthalmologist thinks that your bacteria are resistant to whatever drops you've been using. It's possible that this is the same infection getting hammered back and then having a resurgence after reestablishing itself. Or, it could be a viral infection.
posted by quince at 7:17 PM on March 4, 2015 [6 favorites]

There are different types of conjunctivitis and different ways to treat them. Maybe it's time for you and your doctor to discuss why you keep getting infected.
posted by cooker girl at 7:55 PM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'd also ask your opthamologist if it'd be worthwhile, if they haven't already, to take a swab of your nostrils to see if you're a carrier of Staphylococcus aureus. Something like 20% of people carry it in their noses harmlessly, all the time -- but it can be opportunistic when there's another irritation or infection etc. on your skin, and the methods to "decolonize" your nose (and disinfect your hands and makeup and pillowcases etc.) are pretty specific. I'm sure my terminology isn't 100% right here, but hopefully you get the gist. It may (just may!!) be an explanation for why it keeps recurring... and give you a plan to stop it for good. (quick ref to the conjunctivitis/S. aureus link here). I hope you feel better SOON.
posted by argonauta at 8:21 PM on March 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

Everyone else has given you great advice. I'll just add: is it possible for you to stop wearing makeup altogether until you're very sure that the infection is gone? Or at least avoid wearing eye makeup and don't put foundation/concealer around your eyes. I realize that this may sound like ridiculous and unfeasible advice if you're used to wearing makeup every day, but as someone who occasionally wears lipstick for fun and eye makeup only for special occasions, I promise that you can survive it just fine. (I'm also known by my friends as fashion-conscious and I care at least as much as the average woman about my appearance, fwiw.)
posted by serelliya at 9:00 PM on March 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: As an alternative to freezing, can you safely divvy up any of your makeup items into samples so you don't have to toss and repurchase full-sized containers? (I'm thinking of things like liquid foundation, concealer, cream/gel eyeliners that come in pots, etc.) You could buy some cheap contact lens cases or pill boxes to store your homemade samples, then toss only trace amounts next time you have an infection. Just make sure that whatever you're using to scoop the makeup out of its larger container is, at minimum, washed thoroughly with soap and very hot water. (I think anything run through a dishwasher is probably sterile enough, but I am not a doctor/I am not your doctor.)

I hope the opthamologist can help you get this situation under control soon--s/he might also have more specific recommendations.
posted by Owlcat at 9:15 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was on a make-up/skincare forum recently and found that a lot of products created by a certain company had been contaminated. Is this a possibility for you? What about the make-up brushes being contaminated?
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:51 AM on March 5, 2015

Honestly, I would just stop with the eye makeup until this gets cleared up. Definitely push your doc to figure out what's going on, as having this recur so often isn't normal. But in the meantime, I would avoid irritating the area any further.
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:29 AM on March 5, 2015

Do you keep your makeup in the bathroom? I have seen articles talking about fecal contamination every time you flush for anything left on the bathroom countertop. Set up a vanity table in your bedroom or den and keep your makeup out of the bathroom.
posted by CathyG at 9:12 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've seen advice that says not to wash underwear in the same load of laundry as your pillowcases or face towels.
posted by keep it under cover at 10:50 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is it absolutely pink eye or could it be an allergic reaction? If you're regularly using something that your eyes/skin don't totally agree with, you could be having a reaction to that. Vitamin E and lanolin are common eye makeup ingredients that some people can have a reaction to that is similar to pink eye--red, extremely swollen, painful eyes, and it can become more prevalent with repeated use of the same product. So if you always use the same type of mascara/eye liner/eye primer then maybe switching that up could help.
posted by Polychrome at 2:11 PM on March 5, 2015

I hope this isn't offensive, but what are you applying your makeup with and how are you cleaning those tools? Are you also buying new makeup sponges, brushes, etc…? What about the washcloths that you wash your face with? Are you replacing or sanitizing those?

Have you completely switched makeup brands to make sure it isn't the makeup itself that is causing your pink eye?

Lastly, have you considered seeing a new opthamologist since this one hasn't been able to figure out why you are getting recurring infections?
posted by echo0720 at 7:35 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

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