Pinkeye or conjunctivitis is redness and inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that covers the white part of your eyeball. The reddish or pink color is due to the inflammation of the eye’s blood vessels that makes them more visible. Both adults and children can develop pink eye.
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What Causes Pink Eye
- A bacterial or viral infection
Bacterial conjunctivitis and viral conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes and are extremely contagious. They are easily spread by means of direct or indirect contact with infected eye secretions. This means that pink eye is spread by sharing an object like a towel or by touching something infected (even a doorknob) and then touching your eye. It can spread through coughing and sneeze as well.
The treatment for bacterial conjunctivitis consists of antibiotic eye drops or ointment, or oral antibiotics. It stops being contagious 24 hours before the antibiotic dose. There is no specific treatment for viral conjunctivitis as it is caused by a virus, you just have to wait until your immune system defeats the virus, from four to seven days. It can be contagious from the first day to two weeks after signs and symptoms begin.
- An allergic reaction
Allergic conjunctivitis is a response to an allergy-causing substance, i.e. is it a reaction to substances like pollen, animal dander or dust. It affects both eyes and it is not contagious. Most of the times it can be controlled like any other allergy symptom, for example, with allergy eye drops, or by treating the allergy itself.
- An irritation
Any irritating substance that enters the eyes can produce redness and irritation and lead to chemical conjunctivitis. The most common irritants are chemicals (pollutants, sprays, etc.), smoke, liquids or foreign objects in the eye. Signs and symptoms tend to disappear on their own within about a day.
- Redness and itchiness in the eye.
- More tear production than usual.
- Watery or thick discharge in the eyes.
- Crust in the eyelids that may prevent you from opening the eye.
- A feeling similar to having something is stuck in your eye.
Due to its easy spread, conjunctivitis is a common condition. In most of the cases, pink eye is not a serious illness because it rarely affects your vision if promptly detected and treated. The main problem is usually how irritating and bothersome pink eye is. Home treatment should not substitute seeking medical advice, but it can help relieve the symptoms. If you have these symptoms, stop scratching your eyes, remove and clean your contact lenses if you use them, and follow our home remedies to ease the annoying discomfort of pink eye:
- To relieve the pain, soothe your eye and reduce redness, place a cold or warm compress or washcloth on the eyes. Use clean washcloths each time and a different washcloth for each eye to prevent spreading the infection from one eye to the other.
- To remove the discharge of bacterial or viral pinkeye, gently clean away from your eyelids and lashes using cotton wool soaked in water. You can also clean the eye by wiping with a washcloth from the inside to the outside of the eye area.
- Use lubricant eye to help ease soreness and stickiness in your eyes.
- Last but not least, don’t forget to wash your hands regularly.
Bacterial conjunctivitis causes a thick and yellowish eye discharge and can be easily treated with antibiotics, seek medical advice.
2. Allergic conjunctivitis
- The most useful remedy is simply avoiding exposure to the allergen source.
- To provide relief, gently apply cold, moist washcloths or compress to the eyes.
- Over-the-counter decongestant eyedrops can make you feel better too.
- The symptoms usually improve once the allergy is treated, but use a cold compress to help to ease the pain on the meanwhile.
3. Chemical pink eye
- First of all, wash thoroughly your eyes with a large amount of water as soon as possible and remove the irritant from the eye.
- If the irritant is some kind of chemical, wash of the affected eye for five minutes and promptly seek medical advice because many chemicals can be damaging.
As a general advice, don’t rub your eyes. Otherwise, you will make it worse.
If your symptoms don’t start to get better within 12 to 24 hours, seek medical advice. Pink Eye can be associated with infection of the cornea or with a more serious eye infection. Persistent conjunctivitis may also be a sign of an underlying illness in the body.