What Is Pink Eye? How To Treat And Prevent It

Pink eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin lining covering the eye, as well as the inside of the eyelid. This can become inflamed due to a number of reasons, including due to bacteria, a virus, or an allergy. Pink eye may or may not be contagious depending on what caused it (such as allergies). Read on for further information about pink eye and how to treat it.

Pink Eye Symptoms 

If you've never had pink eye, you may not know what to look for. Pink eye can affect anyone young or old. It could affect one or both eyes and can be contagious to others. Some symptoms of pink eye include:

  • Redness and eye irritation
  • Watery eyes
  • Eye itchiness
  • Discharge of the eyes that can be yellow, white or green
  • Eyes may be stuck together upon waking
  • Mild eye pain
  • Burning
  • Mild swelling

Pink eye can be viral, bacterial or an allergic reaction. Viral pink eye is the most common type and can be highly contagious. Bacterial pink eye is contagious, but usually only by direct contact. Allergic pink eye is not contagious and is accompanied by sneezing or nasal congestion.

Treating Pink Eye

Pink eye should be diagnosed by your physician and treated by your physician as well. Your physician will most likely prescribe medicated eye drops to help clear up the infection. You can use warm washcloths on your eyes to help alleviate the itchiness and burning, as well as keep your eye clean and free of discharge. Tea bags can also help alleviate swelling and help with the healing process. Dip the tea bag in warm water and apply it to the affected eye. 

Preventing Pink Eye

Pink eye can be prevented by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands often, especially after being anywhere public such as the grocery store, or your child's school. Also, keep your hands off of your eyes and away from your face. Wash your pillowcase often, as well as your sheets. Never share towels or washcloths with others to prevent spreading pink eye and other germs. Do not share makeup or makeup tools with others as well, as bacteria can spread easily from one to another.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you could have pink eye. If you aren't sure if it is pink eye, but you have eye irritation, redness and discharge, it's best to visit your family practice for a proper diagnosis and treatment options.