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Treating Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis, informally called pink eye, is a frequently encountered eye illness, especially when it comes to kids. Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria, viruses or irritation from chlorine in pools, ingredients in cosmetics, and pollen, or other products that touch the eyes. Many types of pink eye are fairly transmittable and quickly go around in schools and in the home.

Pink eye is seen when the conjunctiva, or thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the white part of your eye, gets inflamed. A sign that you have conjunctivitis is if you notice itching, discharge, redness or swollen eyelids and crusty eyes in the morning. Pink eye infections can be divided into three basic kinds: viral, allergic and bacterial conjunctivitis.

The viral manifestation is often caused by the same type of virus that makes us have those recognizable watery and red eyes, sore throat and runny nose of the common cold. The uncomfortable symptoms of the viral form of conjunctivitis can stick around for one to two weeks and like other viruses cannot be treated with medication. To relieve uncomfortable symptoms, compresses applied to the eyes will give you some relief. Viral conjunctivitis is contagious until it's gone, so meanwhile, practice excellent hygiene, wipe away discharge and try to avoid using communal pillowcases or towels. If your son or daughter has viral conjunctivitis, he or she will have to be kept home from school for three days to a week until it clears up.

Bacterial pink eye is caused by a common bacterial infection that gets into the eye typically from an external carrier such as a finger, makeup or lotion. This form of conjunctivitis is most often treated with antibiotic cream or drops. One should see the symptoms disappearing within just a few days of antibiotic drops, but always be sure to finish the entire course of antibiotics to prevent conjunctivitis from coming back.

Allergic conjunctivitis is not transmittable. It occurs more commonly among people who already have seasonal allergies or allergies to substances such as pets or dust. The red, itchy, watery eyes may be just a small part of their overall allergic response. The first step in alleviating pink eye that is a result of allergies is to eliminate the allergen, if applicable. To ease discomfort, try artificial tears or compresses. In more severe cases, your optometrist might prescribe a medication such as an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine. When the conjunctivitis remains for an extended period, topical steroid eye drops could be tried.

In all cases of pink eye, practicing sanitary habits is the first rule of thumb. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and don't touch your eyes with your hands.

Conjunctivitis should always be checked out by a professional eye doctor to identify the cause and best course of treatment. Don't ever self prescribe! Keep in mind the sooner you begin treatment, the lower likelihood you have of giving the infection to others or prolonging your discomfort.


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