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A Peek at Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis)

Written by Courteney

Posted on July 24, 2016 at 12:07 am

Conjunctivitis (commonly known as ‘pinkeye’), is a condition whereby the thin layer covering the white of the eye and the tissue in the eyelid becomes inflamed. Conjunctivitis can have several different episodic causes, or can be a recurrent symptom of a larger underlying condition.

What Causes Acute Conjunctivitis?

There are various potential causes of pinkeye, some of which are contagious and some are not. Causes of isolated cases of pinkeye include:

  • Bacterial infection – common among small children (usually daycare and primary school aged), pinkeye infection is very contagious, often spreading through groups of children rapidly. It is caused by harmful bacteria such as E. Coli which a child may come in contact with and accidentally introduce to their eye causing an infection.
  • Viral conjunctivitis – causes similar symptoms of bacterial pinkeye but may last a little longer and cannot be helped by antibiotics. It usually affects people of all ages.
  • Irritantbased conjunctivitis – when a foreign object like a contact lens or chemical substance (such as shampoo) is introduced to the eye it can cause a type of reaction resulting in conjunctivitis.

What Health Conditions Are Associated with Conjunctivitis? 

Sometimes conjunctivitis is caused by, or associated with other health conditions. Some health conditions that may cause recurrent conjunctivitis include:

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Dry eye
  • Certain types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Untreated sexually transmitted diseases
  • Rocky mountain spotted fever (RMSF)

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms of conjunctivitis may vary depending on the cause, but most often it causes:

  • Itching
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Redness and irritation
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Crusty discharge
  • Unusually watery eyes
  • Minor swelling

What is the treatment?

Some types of pinkeye can be treated and others cannot. If the infection is bacterial antibiotics or drops may be given in moderate cases. In the case of dry eye or allergies an optometrist can prescribe special drops based on your condition. In cases of chronic inflammatory illnesses that cause pinkeye, your doctor may change up your medication or prescribe steroid drops for the eyes. Be careful about using OTC eye drops, as some types contain ingredients that actually irritate the eye more.

Pinkeye Prevention

To prevent contracting contagious viral or bacterial pinkeye you should maintain good hygiene and avoid touching your face in public areas where contaminants are all around. Wash hands or sanitize before eating or touching your face and encourage your child to do so as well. Do not share makeup, and be sure to replace eye make up every few months to avoid old bacteria entering your eye. Wash pillowcases in hot water and detergent to ensure they are bacteria free. You should also wash your eye out right away if you get something harmful in it.


If you have any questions or concerns about pinkeye, don’t hesitate to sign up today to start a video consultation with one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians. Thanks for visiting!

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