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Pink Eye: Don’t Let it Go Untreated

Conjunctivitis, informally referred to as pink eye, is a frequently encountered eye infection, particularly when it comes to kids. This condition can be caused by bacteria, a virus or even sensitivities to chlorine in pools, ingredients in cosmetics, and pollen, or other substances, which touch your eyes. Many types of pink eye may be very communicable and easily infect many people in close proximity such as in school and at the office.

Conjunctivitis ensues when the conjunctiva, or thin clear layer of tissue protecting the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. You'll be able to identify the infection if you notice itching, redness, discharge or inflamed eyelids and crusty eyes early in the day. Symptoms of pink eye may occur in one or both eyes. Conjunctivitis infections can be divided into three basic kinds: allergic, bacterial and viral conjunctivitis.

The viral manifestation is often caused by a similar virus to that which produces the familiar red and watery eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. Symptoms of the viral form of pink eye will often last from seven to fourteen days and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. If you feel discomfort, compresses applied to the eyes will give you some relief. The viral form of pink eye is transmittable until it's gone, so in the meantime practice excellent hygiene, wipe away any discharge and try to avoid sharing pillowcases or towels. If your son or daughter has viral pink eye, you will need to keep him/her at home for three days to a week until they are no longer contagious.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a common bacterial infection that gets into the eye usually from a foreign body such as a finger, makeup or lotion. This form of infection is most commonly treated with antibiotic eye drops or cream. Most often one should notice the symptoms disappearing after just a few days of treatment, but always make sure to take the entire course of antibiotics to prevent pink eye from returning.

Conjunctivitis that results from allergies is not infectious or contagious. It occurs more commonly among individuals who already suffer from seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The allergic symptoms in the eyes may be just one aspect of a larger allergic reaction. First of all, to treat allergic pink eye, you should eliminate the allergen. To ease discomfort, try artificial tears or compresses. When the infection is more severe, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antihistamines might be prescribed. In cases of persistent allergic pink eye, topical steroid eye drops could be tried.

In all forms of pink eye, practicing sanitary habits is the best way to keep it from spreading. Wash your hands thoroughly and often and don't touch your eyes with your hands.

While pink eye is often a highly treatable condition, there is sometimes a chance it could evolve into a more severe issue. Any time you have signs of conjunctivitis, be certain to have your eye doctor take a look in order to decide what the best treatment will be.