Conjunctivitis, also referred to as pink eye, is a common eye illness, particularly when it comes to children. Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria or even sensitivities to pollen, ingredients found in cosmetics, and chlorine in swimming pools, or other chemicals that penetrate the eyes. Many kinds of pink eye might be quite contagious and swiftly go around at school and in the home.
Conjunctivitis ensues when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue that protects the white part of the eye, gets inflamed. A sign that you have the infection is if you notice eye itching, redness, discharge or inflamed eyelids and a crusty discharge surrounding the eyes in the morning. Pink eye infections can be divided into three main kinds: bacterial, allergic and viral conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis is usually caused by the same viruses that are the source of the recognizable red, watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. Symptoms of the viral form of conjunctivitis will usually last from one to two weeks and then will disappear on their own. To relieve discomfort, compresses applied to the eyes will give you some relief. The viral form of conjunctivitis is transmittable until it is completely cleared up, so meanwhile, remove any discharge and try to avoid sharing pillowcases or towels. Children who have viral conjunctivitis should stay home from school for three days to a week until they are no longer contagious.
The bacterial form which is caused by infections such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is commonly treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. Most often one should notice the symptoms disappearing after just a few days of treatment, but be sure to complete the entire course of antibiotics to stop the infection from returning.
Allergic conjunctivitis is not infectious or contagious. It usually occurs among those who already have 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 treat allergic conjunctivitis, the irritant itself should be removed. Use cool compresses and artificial tears to relieve discomfort in mild cases. When the infection is more severe, your eye doctor might give you a prescription for an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. In cases of persistent allergic pink eye, steroid eye drops may be tried.
With any form conjunctivitis, making certain to practice sanitary habits is the first rule of thumb. Wash your hands thoroughly and often and don't touch your eyes with your hands.
Although conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, there is sometimes a chance it could evolve into a more serious condition. Any time you think you have pink eye, be sure to have your eye doctor examine you in order to decide how to best to treat it.