You know what this is like: itchy, red and pretty awful. Pink eye (aka conjunctivitis) is inflammation (redness and swelling) of the conjunctiva, the outer layer of the membrane that lines the eyelid and eye surface. Pink eye can be very contagious for as long as two weeks after symptoms appear.
Pink eye mostly develops from an infection or allergic reaction, and it’s important to diagnose and treat the condition as soon as it starts, to avoid it spreading to other people. Viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis can occur in people of any age, but they are more common during childhood.
There are 3 Types of Pink Eye:
1. Viral conjunctivitis: Is caused by a virus and is very contagious
2. Bacterial conjunctivitis: Is caused by bacteria and can cause damage to the eye if left untreated
3. Allergic conjunctivitis: Can be caused by environmental factors such as pollen, dust or animal dander
Pink eye usually gets better on it’s own, but some people require medicated eye drops. If you want to take a natural approach, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about using supplements and alternative treatments to help boost your immune system and prevent or resolve the infection.
To help avoid spreading it around to other people:
- Change your pillowcases frequently.
- Don’t share towels, pillows, or facecloths. Really, don’t.
- Wash towels and bedding frequently, and use hot water.
- Keep your fingers away from your eyes.
- Wash your hands before and after touching your eyes, preferably with antibacterial soap.
- If the pink eye comes at the same time as a cold sore, check with your doctor to make sure the herpes virus has not infected your eye.
- If you use makeup, discard or thoroughly clean all your make up brushes and sponges, as these can cause the infection to spread to the other eye.
- If you normally wear contact lenses, switching to glasses will help the infection clear up faster. Contacts hold germs in the eye and can cause further irritation.
Lastly, if you’re going out into bright sunlight, wear sunglasses as the infection causes light sensitivity. Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms that you think might be pink eye.
Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com