Pink eye is also known as conjunctivitis. It features with redness and swelling of the conjunctiva. Inflammation of conjunctiva can be caused by many infective agents such as bacteria and viruses as well as numerous allergens. As for bacteria the most common culprits of conjunctivitis include Streptococci and Staphylococci. There are many viruses that can lead to conjunctivitis and finally, pink eye may be associated with exposure to allergens such as dust, pollens, aerosols and airborne chemicals.
The symptoms of pink eye basically depend on the type of infection and conjunctival inflammation. In almost all of the cases the affected eye is irritated, red and itchy. Viral infection is usually additionally accompanied by watery eyes while in case of bacterial infection there may be pus discharge and burning sensation. Swelling may in severe cases affect the eyelids which stick together during night. This makes it difficult for a patient to open his/ her eyes in the morning.
Is Pink Eye Contagious?
Many people wonder whether pink eye is contagious or not. In case of allergies the inflammation only affects the allergic person and has no tendency to spread to other people. On the other hand, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are contagious and there is a chance of their spread to other people. The infection can be easily transmitted by touching an infected objects such as towels, pillowcases etc. It is, therefore, essential to isolate patients and not allow him/ her to spread the disease to other people. Children are supposed to stay home and are never go to nursery school and school where the infection can be further spread. Depending on the infective agent pink eye is contagious for approximately 3 to 14 days.
It is advisable for people to take preventive measures and do not allow infection to be spread. This can be successfully achieved by not sharing towels, washcloths, napkins and any objects used by the infected person. When coming in contact with an infected person or his/her excretion one should thoroughly wash his/ her hands with an antibacterial soap. Never rub the eyes with hands or any used cloth but only with soft tissues or napkins.
Treatment for Pink Eye
Bacterial conjunctivitis is easily treated with antibiotic ointments and eye drops. On the other hand, in case of viral conjunctivitis patients are commonly prescribed antihistamine medications and they are supposed to apply cool compresses three to four times a day on the infected eye. Allergic conjunctivitis is treated with specific anti-allergic agents.