Pinkeye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the underside of both the upper and lower eyelids and the covering of the white portion of the eye. The medical term for pinkeye is conjunctivitis. Some causes of pinkeye and solutions that go with them are:
- Allergic reaction to airborne pollen, dust, mold spores, and animal dander, or direct contact with chlorinated water or cosmetics. If you can’t avoid the allergens, antihistamines and certain eye drops can help. (Ask your doctor which one(s) to use).
- Bacterial conjunctivitis is characterized by a pus-like discharge. Warm compresses along with an antibiotic ointment or drops prescribed by your doctor can help. When treated right, bacterial conjunctivitis will clear up in two to three days but continue to use the medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
- Viral conjunctivitis is a complication of a cold or flu. This type has less discharge but more tearing than the bacterial form. Antibiotics don’t work. Viral conjunctivitis can take 14 to 21 days to clear up.
Here are some ways to relieve the symptoms of pinkeye:
- Don’t touch the eye area with your fingers. If you must wipe your eyes, use tissues.
- With your eyes closed, apply a washcloth soaked in warm (not hot) water to the affected eye three to four times a day for at least 5 minutes at a time. (These soaks also help to dissolve the crusty residue of pinkeye).
- Use over-the-counter eye drops. They may soothe irritation and help relieve itching.
- Avoid wearing eye makeup until the infection has completely cleared up. Never share makeup with others.
- Don’t cover or patch the eye. This can make the infection grow.
- Don’t wear contact lenses while your eyes are infected.
- Wash your hands often and use your own towels. Pinkeye is very contagious and can be spread from one person to another by contaminated fingers, washcloths, or towels.
Questions to Ask
Do you have severe eye pain or are your eyes sensitive to light?
Do you have a pus-like discharge that is yellowish-green in color?
Have you tried Self-Care Tips and show no improvement after 24 hours or are the symptoms worse?
Healthy Self: The Guide to Self-Care and Wise Consumerism
© American Institute for Preventive Medicine