Pink eye or conjunctivitis is an infection of the soft, thin membrane that covers the eyeball and the inside of the eyelids. Pink eye can be caused by virus, bacteria, allergy or an environmental agent.
In treatment of conjunctivitis it is important to know what caused it, as the treatment may vary depending on the cause. A pink eye caused by a virus or bacteria infection is considered to be extremely contagious. It is the most common type of pink eye among school-age children. It can be prevented by frequently washing the hands, avoiding rubbing them, which may spread the infection, avoiding sharing of make-up, towels and other items.
The symptoms of pink eye are slightly different depending on what caused it. A viral pink eye includes a watery, greenish or yellowish discharge, slightly swollen eyelids and mild pain or discomfort when looking into bright lights. Viral pink eye usually clears out in seven to ten days.
Bacterial pink eye is most commonly caused by streptococcus, staphylococcus and pneumococcus. In this case, the symptoms include swelling, redness, tenderness, pain and a significant amount of green or yellow discharge. The discharge is heaviest in the morning, when it accumulates between closed eyelids like glue, making it hard or sometimes even impossible to open the eyes. This problem can be solved effectively with a warm wet washcloth applied gently to the eyes in order to remove the crust.
Pink eye that is caused by an allergic reaction is characterized by itching, swelling, tearing and redness. Allergic pink eye is usually seasonal and comes with other allergy symptoms.
As for the treatment, a viral pink eye, which is the most contagious, does not require antibiotics but it is still important to see a doctor because this type of infection can be associated with cornea infection.
Pink eye that is caused by bacteria is best treated with a warm wet cloth applied to the eye. This will remove the discharge and make it possible to clean the eyelids and be able to open the eyes completely. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotic eye-drops or ointment. It is important to have a new prescription for each case of pink eye, because the leftover medicines may be wrong for the new case and make the situation even worse.
In case of allergies, a warm wet washcloth is the best remedy. Eye care doctor may also prescribe decongestant eye-drops or some other medication.
If there is any damage to the eye is done by a chemical agent, it is essential that the eyes are rinsed thoroughly to remove any trace of it.