Pink eye, otherwise known as conjunctivitis, is one of the most common eye infections, particularly when it comes to kids. This condition can be caused by bacteria, viruses or even hypersensitivity to ingredients in cosmetics, chlorine in swimming pools, and pollen, or other irritants that penetrate your eyes. Certain kinds of conjunctivitis might be very transmittable and swiftly cause a pink eye outbreak in schools and in the home.
Pink eye develops when the conjunctiva, or thin clear layer of tissue that lines the white part of your eye, gets inflamed. A sign that you have the infection is if you notice redness, discharge, itching or inflamed eyelids and eyes that are crusty early in the day. Pink eye infections can be divided into three basic types: viral, bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis.
The viral type is usually caused by a similar virus to that which makes us have those recognizable red, watery eyes, runny nose and sore throat of the common cold. Symptoms of the viral form of conjunctivitis are likely to be present for one to two weeks and then will clear up on their own. If you feel discomfort, compresses applied to the eyes will give you some relief. Viral conjunctivitis is contagious until it's gone, so meanwhile, practice excellent hygiene, wipe away any discharge and avoid sharing pillowcases or towels. Children who have viral pink eye will need to be kept home for three days to a week until they are no longer contagious.
A bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is most often treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. You should see an improvement within just a few days of treatment, but be sure to adhere to the complete prescription dosage to stop the infection from coming back.
Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is not infectious or contagious. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as pollen, pet dander or smoke that triggers an allergic reaction in their eyes. First of all, when treating allergic pink eye, the irritant itself must be removed. To ease discomfort, cool compresses and artificial tears may help. In more severe cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. In cases of chronic allergic pink eye, steroid eye drops might be prescribed.
In all forms of pink eye, practicing sanitary habits is the first rule of thumb. Try not to touch your eyes, and if you do, be certain to clean your hands thoroughly.
While pink eye is usually a highly treatable eye infection, it can sometimes develop into a more threatening issue. Any time you notice symptoms of pink eye, be sure to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor so he or she can determine what the best treatment will be.