Conjunctivitis, informally called pink eye, is a common eye illness, especially when it comes to kids. This infection can be caused by viruses, bacteria or allergies to ingredients found in cosmetics, pollen, and chlorine in pools, or other substances, which come into contact with your eyes. Certain types of pink eye can be fairly transmittable and rapidly infect many people in close proximity such as in school and at the office.
Conjunctivitis is seen when the thin clear layer of tissue covering the white part of the eye, or conjunctiva, gets inflamed. A sign that you have the infection is if you notice eye redness, discharge, itching or swollen eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes in the morning. Conjunctivitis infections can be divided into three basic sub-types: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.
The viral type is often a result of the same type of virus that is the source of the familiar watery and red eyes, runny nose and sore throat of the common cold. The uncomfortable symptoms of the viral form of conjunctivitis will usually stick around for seven to fourteen days and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. You may however, be able to reduce some of the symptoms by using soothing drops or compresses. The viral form of conjunctivitis is contagious until it's gone, so meanwhile, maintain excellent hygiene, remove any discharge and avoid sharing towels or pillowcases. If your child has viral pink eye, he or she will have to stay home from school for three days to a week until symptoms disappear.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a common bacterial infection that enters the eye often from an external object such as a finger, makeup or lotion. This form of pink eye is most commonly treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. Most often you should notice an improvement within just a few days of antibiotic drops, but always make sure to follow the full antibiotic prescription to prevent conjunctivitis from returning.
Conjunctivitis that results from allergies is not contagious. It occurs more commonly in individuals who already suffer from seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The red, itchy, watery eyes may be just part of a larger allergic reaction. First of all, to alleviate the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, you must remove the allergen. Try cool compresses and artificial tears to alleviate discomfort in mild cases. In more severe cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. When the pink eye lasts for an extended period, steroid eye drops may be used.
In all instances 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 wash your hands well.
While conjunctivitis is typically a highly treatable condition, there is sometimes a chance it could develop into a more serious issue. Any time you notice symptoms of pink eye, be sure to schedule an appointment with your optometrist in order to determine how to best to treat it.