Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin, clear membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection that can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or an allergy.
Viral conjunctivitis is the most common type of conjunctivitis. It is usually spread through contact with the discharge from an infected eye. This can happen when you touch your own eye after touching an infected eye, or when you share eye makeup or towels with someone who has conjunctivitis.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is less common than viral conjunctivitis, but it is more serious. It is usually spread through contact with the discharge from an infected eye, or through contact with contaminated surfaces.
Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious. It is caused by an allergic reaction to something in the environment, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander.
The symptoms of conjunctivitis can vary depending on the cause. However, some common symptoms include:
- Redness of the eyes
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Discharge from the eyes
- Irritation and burning of the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
In most cases, conjunctivitis is not serious and goes away on its own within a few days. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis and to relieve the symptoms:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes.
- Do not share eye makeup or towels with other people.
- If you have conjunctivitis, stay home from work or school until the symptoms have gone away.
- Apply a cold compress to your eyes.
- Use over-the-counter eye drops or ointment to relieve the symptoms.
If your conjunctivitis is severe or does not go away on its own, see a doctor. They may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment to treat a bacterial infection.