What Causes Pink Eye?

Infectious Diseases

What Causes Pink Eye – As Bad As It Looks?

What is it, and what causes pink eye? Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is inflammation of the membrane (conjunctiva) that covers the white part (sclera) of the eye. Pink eye causes – it is most often caused by a virus though bacterial infections, allergic or chemical irritation can also cause conjunctivitis.

 Conjunctivitis is VERY contagious. 

Viral pink eye usually affects both eyes. Children usually have viral symptoms such as runny nose, congestion or cough when they develop viral pink eye. Bacterial pink eye usually affects one of the eyes, and causes excessive discharge. Allergic pinkeye occurs when allergens irritate the conjunctiva. This effects of both eyes and usually causes itchy and watery eyes

Frequent hand washing and minimizing sharing towels, makeup and pillows can prevent the spread. 

What does it look like?

  • Inner eye and eyelid redness
  • Itchy eyes
  • Clear, yellow or green eye discharge
  • Limited eyelid swelling
  • Stye in the eye

How to get pink eye – is conjunctivitis contagious?

Conjunctivitis is VERY contagious. It is easily contracted by touching someone who recently touched their eye or touching the surface of something touched by someone with pink eye. Even brief contact with the virus or bacteria, and then touching the eyes can lead to conjunctivitis.

How to treat pink eye

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral pink eye usually last one to two weeks and does not require treatment. It will resolve on its own. Some children get relief from using warm compresses or saline eye drops.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

please see your physician if you think your child has bacterial pink eye. This will improve with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. Symptoms usually improve within one to two days.

Allergic conjunctivitis

saline drops, allergy eye drops or oral antihistamines can help resolve your child’s allergic pink eye

Treatment for stye

styes are usually viral and the treatment is therefore limited to symptomatic care. Warm compresses can reduce swelling and speed healing.

Prevention

Viral and bacterial pink eye are very contagious and can spread easily if the infected eye (or hands that have touched the eye) has contact with another person’s eyes. Frequent hand washing and minimizing sharing towels, makeup and pillows can prevent the spread.

Children with viral conjunctivitis should avoid other children unless hand hygiene is controlled. Children with bacterial pink eye may return to school or day care 24 hours after starting antibiotics. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.

If your child has persistent symptoms, symptoms lasting for more than one week, eye pain, increased eye swelling or redness or changes in vision, please see your physician.

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

Do NOT use this Website for medical emergencies.

If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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