Pinkeye -- also known as conjunctivitis -- is an eye condition characterized by
redness and swelling on the whites of the eye and eyelids. Most often,
pinkeye is caused by a bacterial infection, but can also be attributed
to allergies, a chemical reaction or another
Pinkeye is very contagious, and is easily spread, especially among children.
It is spread through poor hygiene, especially failure to properly wash
hands. Sharing an object that has been infected or coughing and sneezing
can also spread the bacteria. Because pinkeye spreads so easily, a child
who has been diagnosed with pinkeye should be kept home for at least 24
hours after beginning treatment.
If pinkeye is diagnosed and treated promptly and properly, there are rarely
complications from the condition. If you notice redness and swelling in
your eye or your child’s eye accompanied by itching, burning, excessive
tearing, drainage or crusty eyelids, pinkeye is the likely the culprit.
To treat bacterial pinkeye your, doctor will prescribe antibiotic eye drops
an antibiotic ointment or pills to treat and clear the infection. If pinkeye
is viral, there is no treatment other than letting the virus run its course.
Pinkeye caused by allergies should clear once the allergen source is removed.
Pinkeye caused by a chemical reaction can be treated by promptly flushing
out the eye. In the case of chemicals in the eye, contact your doctor
During the treatment process, symptoms of pinkeye can be reduced with a
cold or warm compress on the eyes. Be sure a clean cloth is used on each
eye or the infection can spread.
To prevent pinkeye for you and your children, encourage frequent hand washing.
Avoid touching your eyes with your hands. Do not share towels with another
person. Keep countertops, sinks and doorknobs sanitized. If you have already
contracted pinkeye, be sure to throw away any makeup products including
mascara and brushes to help prevent further spreading infection.
If you or your child experiences a persistent case of pinkeye, it could
be a symptom of a more serious problem. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and
certain inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s
disease have been attributed to pinkeye. If you experience persistent
pinkeye, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
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