what is pinkeye?

 Conjunctivitis, more often called pinkeye, is one of the most common eye infections in both children and adults. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. Pink eye is most often caused by bacteria, virus or allergies.

Although pinkeye is not a serious eye disease, it needs to be treated immediately because bacterial conjunctivitis and viral conjunctivitis are both very contagious. Allergic conjunctivitis is not.

Symptoms of pinkeye

Symptoms common to conjunctivitis are redness, burning, irritation, a sensitivity to light, and tearing. The differences are usually in the type of discharge. Allergic conjunctivitis has a thin watery discharge whereas viral and bacterial pink eye have a sticky yellowish or white discharge that can leave eyelids stuck together especially after a night's sleep.

Allergic pink eye is usually itchier, whereas the viral and bacterial type can be more painful.


Viral Conjunctivitis doesn't usually require any type of treatment. The symptoms take about 4 days to a week to pass. Eye drops may be used to relieve the symptoms.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis requires antibiotics which can be given in the form or drops, ointments or pills.

Allergic Conjunctivitis doesn't require any type of treatment, but antihistamine drops can relieve the symptoms.

How to stop eye infections from spreading

  • Wash your hands with soap and water every time you apply eye drops or have any contact with your eyes
  • Wash linens, pillowcases and towels in hot water and detergent
  • Don't share eye make up or glasses with anyone
  • Don't share hand towels
  • Throw out old eye drops or ointments
  • If you use contact lenses, don't wear them while you have the infection. Throw out the last pair of lenses you wore including the case (if they're permanent, disinfect them).

Home remedies

When preparing the remedies below, use distilled water and do not save them for more than 2 days, to avoid contamination.

  • Brew a cup of chamomile tea for 10 minutes. Let cool completely and use as an eye rinse or compress.
  • Grate a raw potato or apple and wrap in gauze. Place on eyes for 20 minutes to reduce swelling and irritation.
  • "Artificial tears" over the counter eye drops can help reduce burning irritated eyes.
  • Place cotton balls in salt water solution consisting of one cup distilled water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt. Squeeze out only a small amount of solution from the cotton balls, so there is plenty of saline to drip into eyes. Place a towel under your head, the excess will drip down the sides of your face. A little messy, but does the job. Leave on for 5-10 minutes. Repeat this several times a day.
  • Place 2 black tea bags in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Cool and place tea bags on eyes. You can also use the solution as an eye wash.

The above remedies are not intended to replace your ophthalmologist's or physician's advice and medications. Consult with your doctor before using them.

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