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How Do You Get Pink Eye? Home Remedies & Treatment

Updated on April 8, 2011

Pink eye or, less colloquially, conjunctivitis, is the inflammation of the inside of the eyelid and/or the whites of the eyes. This inflammation causes redness and irritates the eyes, sometimes making it difficult to see. These membranes inflame for a few reasons, for example: bacterial infections, viruses, irritants, allergens etc.


How Do You Get Pink Eye?

So, how do you get pink eye? There are a number of reasons and all come with slightly different symptoms and treatments:

Allergic pink eye – there are many allergens that can cause pink eye such as pollen, dust and animal dander. These often cause the eye to swell, as well as causing itching and sometimes tearing of the eye membranes. This can be treated by laying a moist, cold flannel across the eyes or by using decongestant eye drops. You can also get medication prescribed by a doctor, but this is often not needed.

Irritant pink eye – any irritating substance entering the eyes can cause pink eye, the most common being smoke, smog, industrial pollutants and household cleaners. This can be relieved by washing the eyes with a lot of water, however, you should visit a doctor regardless as some irritants can be very damaging.

Viral pink eye - this is the most common cause. Adenoviruses are the viruses that cause the infection in most cases. Symptoms include watery discharge, cold-like symptoms and bright light being painful to look at and these symptoms last between one and two weeks. Antibiotics will not cure a viral infection and this type of infection is highly contagious. It is recommended you consult a doctor if you believe you have viral pink eye because viral pink eye can be caused by an infection of the cornea.

Bacterial pink eye – bacterial pink eye can be caused by many bacteria such as Staphylococci and Streptococci and many bacteria causing pink eye also cause other infections in the body. Symptoms include yellow/green discharge which accumulates during sleep sometimes causing your eyes to stick shut (use a moist, warm flannel to combat this), redness, swelling and sometimes mild pain in the eyes. It is recommended you visit a doctor if you believe you have bacterial pink eye; antibiotics can be prescribed to help your body’s immune system fight the infection and the doctor can check to see if it has spread to other areas.

Chlamydia pink eye – pink eye can also be caused by Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection. Although uncommon in North America and Europe, it is fairly common in Africa. This can be easily treated with erythromycin or tetracycline.

Home Remedies for Pink Eye

While you should always consult a doctor if you believe you have pink eye, home remedies can be effective at relieving symptoms. As previously mentioned, a damp flannel (warm in most cases) is very good for relief as well as over-the-counter eyedrops. To avoid further irritation, you should not wear contact lenses for as long as the pink eye symptoms last, nor should you use eye makeup or cosmetic products.


Preventing The Spread Of Pink Eye

Pink eye caused by infections is highly contagious. Direct contact with anybody while you have pink eye is likely to spread the infection, so avoid this if possible. Try to avoid touching your eyes while you have pink eye and be sure to wash your hands using antibacterial soap or alcohol gel if you do. If using eye drops, do not let the container touch the eye, as this can prolong the infection; for this reason you should also never share eyedrops with another person. 

Have you ever had pink eye?

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    • profile image

      Makayla 3 years ago

      this made my day I got this free iTunes Card Code and it was legit! Check this site out: :D

    • profile image

      Jonh3 5 years ago

      My baby had pink eye for a week. Know that she don't have nothing I feel my eye sticky, I think I have scotch eye.

    • profile image

      halley 5 years ago

      My son moved down the road from another state. His baby's eye was pink kin of swollen they said pink eye and all the kids got it Then my teenager. Thought it ed gone. Now my eye is swollen an my sinuses running eye is running. I waited three days when there was no signs of pink eye and visited my grandbaby. Two days later I have pink eye.what are the chances of her getting it?

    • JoanneDoubtfire profile image

      JoanneDoubtfire 7 years ago from Manchester

      fastfreta - thanks for the great comment. It's certainly nice when someone appreciates your hubs!

      Modibas - I'm glad I could help!

    • Modibas profile image

      Modibas 7 years ago from Vilnius, Lithuania, Europe

      Thanks a lot for some additional information. It seems to be my case, or at least close one. I'll be sure to read it later (don't really have enough time at the moment).

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 7 years ago from Southern California

      JoanneDoubtfire, all this time I thought there was only one kind of pinkeye, thank you so much for the education. I had to "like" this one, and bookmark it too. Voted up/useful!

      Welcome to HubPages, keep up the good work.

    • JoanneDoubtfire profile image

      JoanneDoubtfire 7 years ago from Manchester

      Hey Modibas. I don't think the red eye is due to a bacterial or viral infection, so I had a little look on Google and by the sound of it it is just due to the high amount of eye movements compared to normal when on the computer or reading. It could also be due to poor lighting conditions.

      This site I found has some useful information about it if you're interested:

    • Modibas profile image

      Modibas 7 years ago from Vilnius, Lithuania, Europe

      Hey, my eyes always look like that in the evening (well at least for last month or so)although they are not that bad looking in the morning, also my eyes look relatively normal when I don't use PC, read and etc. for too much time. Do you think it is still the red eye or just some form of exhaustion?


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