What is pink eye and how to treat it

Picture of a woman rubbing her eye

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eyeIt is a condition that can be caused by an infection or a reaction to an allergen. The term pink eye comes from the fact that it causes redness or swelling in the white of the eye.

“You can develop pink eye by coming into contact with a virus or bacteria on a surface and then touching your face or eyes,” Dessini Drakulich, O.D., an ophthalmologist at Nebraska Medicine. “People who wear contact lenses are also more likely to develop pink eye if they do not wash their hands well when changing contact lenses or if they wear them outside the recommended range of use.”

Viral conjunctivitis

Pink eye caused by viruses is the most common and highly contagious. This infection usually goes away on its own after about seven to 14 days.

Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis

  • Redness in the white of the eye
  • Prominent blood vessels
  • Pain or burning
  • watery eyes
  • Fever

Because most cases of viral conjunctivitis are mild, treatment is rarely recommended unless you have a very severe form. Over-the-counter drops such as artificial tears can be used to help soothe your eyes.

Because the virus is highly contagious, you should be careful not to touch your face or eyes when you are around others to avoid spreading the virus.

Viral conjunctivitis treatment

  • Over-the-counter artificial tears
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Change your pillowcases and sheets frequently
  • Avoid sharing towels
  • Avoid close contact with others, such as touching or shaking hands

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis caused by a bacterial infection is most common in young children. “Adults rarely get this form of pink eye. They usually come into contact with this type of bacteria fairly frequently over the years and become immune to it,” Dr. Draculich says.

While it’s not as contagious as viral conjunctivitis, it can spread quickly in a nursery or school environment as children tend to touch everything around them in addition to their face and eyes, notes Dr. Drakulich.

Symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis are slightly different from a viral infection. The telltale sign of a bacterial infection is green and yellow secretions. It is also itchy and usually not painful.

Symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis

  • puffy red eyes
  • Itchy watery eyes
  • Green and yellow discharge from the eyes
  • Fever

Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with a topical antibiotic. “While it may get better without treatment, an antibiotic will shorten the duration of the infection, prevent complications and reduce its spread to others,” Dr. Drakulich says. “I highly recommend diagnosing and treating your child. If left untreated, the infection can become more serious. This may require hospitalization and cause permanent damage to vision. If your child develops a fever, this is often a sign of a more serious infection and needs a medical evaluation” .

Dr. Draculich recommends keeping your child home for 24 to 48 hours after starting the antibiotic to reduce the spread of the disease.

Bacterial conjunctivitis treatment

  • topical antibiotic
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Wash pillowcases, sheets and upholstery frequently
  • Avoid sharing towels

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and occurs more often in people who have allergies, asthma, or eczema. Antibiotics will not improve the condition, but they can help relieve symptoms by soothing the eyes and reducing itching.

Treatment of allergic conjunctivitis

  • Allergy drugs
  • Over-the-counter allergy eye drops

Other causes of conjunctivitis include:

fungal conjunctivitis

Fungal conjunctivitis is usually associated with getting an organic material into your eye, such as a tree branch, and infection. This type of infection can be very difficult to treat and should be evaluated by your doctor immediately.

Symptoms of fungal conjunctivitis

  • Painful red eye
  • Eye infection

What if my pink eyes keep coming back?

If your pink eye returns after treatment, this is likely a sign that it has not been treated appropriately and needs further evaluation, advises Dr. Draculich. It may also return frequently due to allergies or dry eyes. dry eye It is a condition that occurs when your eyes cannot provide adequate lubrication. It can make your eyes red and inflamed, and may cause you to sting or burn.

When to see a pink eye doctor?

  • Your child has normal symptoms of conjunctivitis, in addition to a fever
  • vision problems
  • severe eye pain
  • Suppressed immune system or other chronic medical problems
  • A bacterial infection that does not go away after five days
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pink eye It can become dangerous if not treated properly. Not sure what’s causing your pink eye, or whether it’s still not clear? a call 800.922.0000 To make an appointment with an eye specialist.

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