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  Wendi Boyett   October 16, 2015   Illness, Eyes, Conjunctivitis, Prevention 0 Comments

Pink, itchy eyes? What you should know about conjunctivitis

Velocity Care’s guide to understanding the common medical condition

bigstock-Doctor-putting-drops-into-a-se-77450504Conjunctivitis, aka pink eye, is the most common of eye infections. It can be especially troublesome for children because of its contagious nature.

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer of tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid. Usually, it is not a serious condition and is easily treated, but it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible in order to prevent transmission of this pesky condition to others. Remember: Any neglected infection can pose serious risk.

Three types of conjunctivitis

According to the CDC, there are three types of conjunctivitis, and each can produce similar symptoms. In addition, there are other conditions that may cause eye irritation, itchiness and swelling, including environmental factors (smoke, dust, chemical vapors), wearing contact lenses and, less frequently, fungi or other eye diseases.

Bacterial conjunctivitis:

  • This type of infection is generally a mild condition and will last as few as two days or as many as three weeks.

  • It is highly contagious and spreads through physical contact.

  • It usually begins in one eye and may progress to the other.

  • It is the No. 1 reason children miss school and daycare.

  • Symptoms include pink-tinged whites of the eyes, inflammation, irritation and itchiness. The infection might also produce discharge which may make the eyes sticky and crusty.

  • It can be treated with prescription antibiotic eye drops.

Viral conjunctivitis:

  • Exposure to upper respiratory tract infections (including the common cold) usually causes this kind of conjunctivitis.

  • It is the most contagious form of conjunctivitis because it can spread through non-physical contact such as sneezes or coughs.

  • It often affects both eyes.

  • Symptoms may include eye pinkness and itchiness as well as a watery, clear discharge from the eye.

  • It cannot be treated with antibiotics, though the infection is usually mild and will clear up on its own within two weeks.

Allergic conjunctivitis:

  • This type of conjunctivitis is common for people who are allergic to substances such as pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, cosmetics or contact lenses and lens solution.

  • It usually occurs in both eyes simultaneously.

  • It is not contagious.

  • You can treat it with allergy medication and/or removal of the responsible allergen.

  • Symptoms include pink, itchy, watery eyes, usually accompanied by other general allergy symptoms.

How you can prevent conjunctivitis and lessen its effects

  • Practice good hygiene and remind your children to do so as well.

  • Never touch your eyes or the area around your eyes without washing your hands first.

  • Be sure to discard old cosmetics and anything that comes in contact with your eyes during an infection.

  • Never share makeup products.

  • A compress can relieve some discomfort: warm compresses for bacterial and viral infections, cool compresses for allergic conjunctivitis.

  • Try not to rub infected eyes.

Conjunctivitis – though a nuisance and quite uncomfortable – is generally not a serious condition. If treated without delay, it won’t cause any permanent damage. However, because of its highly contagious nature, it is a good idea to take measures to contain the infection as soon as symptoms appear.

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Photo credit: Bigstockphoto.com 

Medical disclaimer

This site offers medical, health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. General information found on this website is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your health care professional.

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