Pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an infection of the eye lid lining. Pinkeye is one of the most common ailments affecting children, even though it can affect anyone of any age. Pinkeye is usually caused by a virus, bacteria or allergies.
Pinkeye is characterized by being a redness in the whites of an eye. A virus infection is the most common way to get pinkeye. Viral pinkeye usually has more of a watery discharge and a person can have cold-like symptoms. Viral pinkeye is very contagious and can last one to two weeks. People with viral pinkeye should see a doctor, as this could turn into a cornea infection.
Bacterial pinkeye can cause symptoms such as redness, swelling and pain in the eye. Discharge in the eye usually occurs after sleeping. Bacterial pinkeye can be treated by applying warm washcloths to the eyes as well as a trip to the doctor to get eye drops or antibiotic ointment.
Allergy pinkeye is most commonly associated with itching and swelling of the eyes. Pollens, dust and dander are the main causes of this type of pinkeye and it typically causes the usual allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing and itching. Cold washcloths to the eyes and over-the-counter eye drops work well to give relief. If you find that you or someone you know constantly has pinkeye, that may be a sign of a more serious problem.
While cold washcloths applied to the eyes and eye drops will help to relieve the symptoms, you should visit your doctor to make sure that the infection doesn’t become more serious. Since pinkeye is very contagious, you will need to take steps to avoid passing the infection on. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching the area around the eye. Throw away any tissues or handkerchiefs that you have used, and make sure to disinfect countertops, doorknobs and sink areas.