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Pink, Itchy Eyes? You Might Have Conjunctivitis

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is one of the most frequently seen eye diseases, particularly when it comes to children. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, a virus or even irritation from ingredients found in cosmetics, pollen, and chlorine in swimming pools, or other irritants, which come in contact with your eyes. Some kinds of pink eye might be highly transmittable and easily spread in school and at the home or office.

Conjunctivitis is seen when the thin clear layer of tissue that covers the white part of the eye, or conjunctiva, gets inflamed. A sign that you have pink eye is if you notice itching, discharge, redness or inflamed eyelids and crusty eyes early in the day. Conjunctivitis infections can be divided into three main sub-types: viral, bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis.

The viral manifestation is usually a result of the same kind of virus that produces the recognizable red, watery eyes, runny nose and sore throat of the common cold. Symptoms of the viral form of conjunctivitis can be present for seven to fourteen days and then will clear up on their own. You may however, be able to alleviate some of the discomfort by using soothing drops or compresses. The viral form of conjunctivitis is transmittable until it's gone, so meanwhile, practice excellent hygiene, wipe away any discharge and try to avoid using communal towels or pillowcases. If your child has viral conjunctivitis, you will need to keep him/her at home from school for three days to a week until it clears up.

A bacterial infection such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus is most often treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. You should notice the symptoms disappearing after three or four days of antibiotic drops, but always make sure to follow the complete prescription dosage to stop the infection from returning.

Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is not transmittable. It is usually a result of a known allergy such as hay fever or pet allergies that sets off an allergic response in their eyes. The first step in treating allergic pink eye is to eliminate the irritant, if applicable. Use cool compresses and artificial tears to alleviate discomfort in mild cases. When the infection is more severe, your eye doctor might give you a prescription for an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. When the infection lasts for an extended period, topical steroid eye drops might be tried.

While conjunctivitis is typically a minor eye infection, there is sometimes a chance it could evolve into a more threatening issue. If you have signs of conjunctivitis, be certain to have your eye doctor examine you so he or she can determine what the best treatment will be.