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Everything You Need To Know About Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis (commonly called “pink eye") is an eye condition that can be highly contagious. It’s frequently seen in daycares and schools in the autumn and winter months. So what exactly is pink eye? And what can be done about it? Here’s what you need to know about pink eye.

1. There Are Three Separate Causes of Conjunctivitis.

The three causes of conjunctivitis are bacterial, viral and allergic. While there are some tests being developed to help medical providers determine a more exact diagnosis, most cases of pink eye are diagnosed based on symptoms and exam findings.

Bacterial conjunctivitis usually only occurs in one eye. It causes intense redness, itching, irritation, and a thick yellow discharge.

Viral conjunctivitis often occurs in both eyes and often happens in conjunction with a viral upper respiratory infection (like the common cold). It causes clear or yellow discharge, mild redness, itching and irritation.

Allergic conjunctivitis almost always involves both eyes. It causes redness, itching and an increased production of tears.

2. The Treatment of Conjunctivitis Depends on the Cause.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic eye drops or eye ointment. Allergic conjunctivitis is treated with antihistamine eye drops and sometimes oral antihistamine tablets. Viral conjunctivitis resolves on its own. Applying cool, wet compresses can alleviate the discomfort until the symptoms go away.

3. Viral and Bacterial Conjunctivitis are Highly Contagious.

Allergic conjunctivitis isn’t contagious, because everyone’s body is sensitive to different allergens. But bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious! They’re spread when an infected person rubs their eyes, touches a hard surface, and someone else comes in contact with the same infected surface and then touches their face.

If you or your child has conjunctivitis symptoms, it’s important to have a medical evaluation right away and start on the appropriate treatment. It’s also important to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face and disinfect any hard surfaces at school or in the home (like plastic toys, desks, computer keyboards, door knobs, sink handles and car seats).

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