Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is a common eye illness, particularly with kids. This infection can be caused by a virus, bacteria or allergies to chlorine in swimming pools, pollen, and ingredients in cosmetics, or other irritants, which come into contact with your eyes. Many forms of pink eye might be quite transmittable and quickly spread at schools and in the home.
This kind of infection ensues when the thin transparent layer of tissue over the white part of your eye, or conjunctiva, becomes inflamed. You can identify conjunctivitis if you notice eye discharge, itching, redness or inflamed eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes early in the day. Symptoms of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes. Conjunctivitis infections can be divided into three main sub-types: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.
The viral type is often caused by the same type of viruses that produce the familiar red, watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The uncomfortable symptoms of the viral form of pink eye will usually be present for a week to two and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. To ease discomfort, compresses applied to the eyes will give you some relief. Viral pink eye is transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so meanwhile, wipe away discharge and avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. If your child has viral pink eye, he or she will have to be kept home from school for three days to a week until it clears up.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a common bacterial infection that enters the eye typically from a foreign body such as a finger, makeup or lotion. This type of pink eye is usually treated with antibiotic cream or drops. Most often you should see the symptoms disappearing after just a few days of treatment, but make sure to follow the full antibiotic prescription to stop conjunctivitis from recurring.
Pink eye that results from allergies is not infectious or contagious. It usually occurs among individuals who already have seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The red, itchy, watery eyes may be just part of their overall allergic response. The first step in relieving conjunctivitis that is a result of allergies is to eliminate the irritant, when applicable. To ease discomfort, cool compresses and artificial tears may help. When the infection is more severe, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. When the conjunctivitis persists for a long time, steroid eye drops might be tried.
Conjunctivitis should always be diagnosed by an experienced eye doctor to determine the cause and proper course of treatment. Don't ever treat yourself! Keep in mind the sooner you begin treatment, the lower chance you have of giving the infection to others or prolonging your discomfort.