Pink eye leads to uncomfortable, itchy, watery eyes and can cause you to miss out on certain activities. This guide will help you understand the causes, how long the symptoms will last, and how to take care of this issue. Before visiting your family doctor, here’s what you need to know.
What Is Pink Eye?
Pink eye is an infection on the clear lining of the eyelid and eyeball. When it gets inflamed, the blood vessels can get irritated, causing one or both eyes to appear bloodshot. This infection spreads quite easily through physical contact with the discharge that can be found on people’s hands, shared pillows, and other fabrics.
Colds and other respiratory infections produce mucus that can spread infection to the sinuses and eye socket. Pink eye can easily become a secondary infection to your original illness.
If you get something caught in your eye, and it becomes irritated, it can progress to pink eye. People who wear contacts are specifically at risk because once they’re removed, they become a host for bacteria. Never share contacts with another person to avoid pink eye.
Conjunctivitis caused by allergies is not contagious but is equally as uncomfortable. Pollen, pet dander, grass, dust, mold, among other agents can irritate the eyes and inflame the sensitive membrane.
One or both eyes can become affected by pink eye. The symptoms are extremely uncomfortable, but itching and rubbing the eyes should be avoided as much as possible. The following symptoms of pink eye may be paired with a runny nose or sore throat.
- Burning sensation
- Crusty eyelids while you’re sleeping
- Mucous discharge
- Moderate to severe itching
- Swelling of the eyelids and underneath the eyes
- Watery eyes
If you have a severe case of pink eye, visit your family doctor for a prescription of antibiotic eye drops or antiviral medication. Mild cases can be taken care of at home with a hot compress around the eyes and plenty of rest. Refrain from going out to prevent spreading the disease to others around you. Pink eye symptoms can dissipate within a few days to two weeks without medical treatment. If you choose to see your family doctor, the treatment can reduce symptoms after 24 to 48 hours.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to prevent pink eye. Wash your hands regularly and dry them with a clean towel, and avoid touching your eyes throughout the day if possible. However, if you need to put in contact lenses, always wash your hands before and after. Similarly, use clean towels after washing your face and change your pillowcases frequently.
If you wear makeup, check the expiration dates on eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. Throw these products away when they dry out, as this can cause them to retain bacteria. Never share cosmetics or applicators to avoid spreading or contracting pink eye.
HDR Healthcare Network offers health education, prevention, and wellness services to Upper Manhattan and the West Bronx. Their family doctors and skilled technicians offer comprehensive services for pediatrics and adult medicine. Call (718) 617-2500 to schedule an appointment, or visit their website for more information.