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Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis, with Videos

Updated on August 31, 2011

eye infections - pink eye

If you have kids, you’ve probably had run-ins with pink eye. Also referred to as “pinkeye,” the actual term for the condition is conjunctivitis, and like most eye infections, it can make you feel absolutely lousy. By following a few guidelines, you can lessen the symptoms of pink eye and decrease your chances of getting it again and passing it on to others.

What is pink eye?

To understand pink eye, you need to know a little about the eye’s structure. The white part of the eye is called the “sclera.” The sclera is covered by a mucous membrane called the “conjunctiva.” The undersides of the eyelids are also covered by conjunctiva. When the conjunctiva becomes inflamed, the condition is called conjunctivitis or pink eye.

Pink eye is usually caused by a viral infection, but it can also be caused by a bacterial infection or by allergies. Irritants like harsh chemicals can also cause conjunctivitis.

How pink eye is spread

Pink eye caused by viral and bacterial infections are highly contagious. They’re easily spread from person to person, by direct contact or by items that have been contaminated. Pink eye is a common malady in preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools because young children are often in close proximity to one another, and they often share objects that might be contaminated. If your child get pink eye, he’ll need to stay home from school until he’s no longer contagious.

If you have conjunctivitis in one of your eyes, it’s difficult to keep it from spreading to the other eye.

Sometimes teen girls spread pink eye by sharing mascara, eye shadow, and eyeliner.

Symptoms of pink eye

Pink eye symptoms include redness, discharge, itching, and pain. It will often feel like you have sand in the affected eye. The eyelids might also become swollen and tender. With bacterial pink eye, the discharge from the affected eye is often profuse. In fact, you might very well wake up with your eye or eyes “glued together.”

Pink eye symptoms might last for more than a week.

Pink eye treatment

Pink eye treatment depends on which type of conjunctivitis is involved. If the pink eye is caused by a virus, the condition will usually resolve on its own, although seeing a doctor is wise. Sometimes the cornea might be affected, and that will need to be treated by a physician. Cool, damp compresses will often relive some of the symptoms, and eye drops or artificial tears might help, too.

For bacterial pink eye, your doctor will most likely prescribe an antibiotic in the form of drops or ointment. Warm, damp compresses will help to soften the “crust” that often accompanies the infection.

If you get inflamed conjunctiva from an irritant or toxic substance, wash the affected eye with lots of water as soon as possible. You’ll also need to call the poison control center and tell them exactly which substance caused the inflammation. Get to your physician as soon as you can to ensure that there’s no permanent damage to the eye.

If you normally wear contact lenses, avoid them while you have pink eye. Also, don’t use any eye makeup until the condition clears up completely. Keep your hands away from your eyes, and resist the urge to rub your eyes. Wash your hands frequently, too. your pillowcases and sheets will need to be washed to prevent re-infection.

My experience with pink eye

As a teacher, I was always coming in contact with a plethora of viral and bacterial “bugs.” Several years ago, I contracted conjunctivitis in my left eye. I had suffered a few times from viral pink eye, and they were never very painful or worrisome. They healed quickly on their own.

This specific case of pink eye, however, just kept getting worse and worse. It was extremely painful. My lymph nodes swelled, and I had a high fever. The infection spread to my right eye, but it was never as bad as my left. My physician prescribed antibiotics, but before they could battle the bacteria, the left side of my face became very swollen. I looked like the Elephant Man – seriously. This was one of the worst illnesses I’d ever experienced. Even worse, my husband ended up with the infection, too.

Redness is one of the symptoms of pink eye.
Redness is one of the symptoms of pink eye.
Never share eye shadow, mascara, or eyeliner.
Never share eye shadow, mascara, or eyeliner.

About conjunctivitis:

Pink eye home remedies:


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    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 6 years ago from Aurora

      Thanks--I got the bacterial pink eye. Yuk!

    • mocrow profile image

      mocrow 6 years ago from Georgia

      Ugh. My boys have caught pink eye at school a couple of times. Thanks for all the helpful information. Rated your hub up.

    • vydyulashashi profile image

      vydyulashashi 6 years ago from Hyderabad,India

      Very helpful info. Thanks for sharing. Voted up!

      God Bless You!

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Thanks for the useful information habee, I have had conjunctivitus once and it was very sore indeed.

      Voted up and interesting


    • tlpoague profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from USA

      I have often told my daughter not to share her make-up to prevent pink eye. I have never had it, but know of a few that have. It is very disturbing. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips and information.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Good information and useful too, as pink eyes is a rather common problem. Rated up.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      I wish I had read this before it happened to me in Canada. The worst place to have anything happen to you if you are a visitor. You cannot go to an eye specialist, because you have to first go to GP, who will make the wrong diagnosis and you will suffer unnecessarily for weeks. You then call your own ophthalmic surgeon at home, who makes the correct diagnosis overt the phone and tells you what to do and how to get to a real eye specialist to give you the medicine he has prescribed, which will relieve your three week problem in five minutes. :-))))

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, mtsi! Scratchy throat? Try some honey, lemon, and whiskey!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks for this very interesting article Habee. I usually use warm slightly salted water to rinse the eye with.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Very thorough and interesting explanation of pink eye, Holle. I had it for one day last month and it disappeared as suddenly as it arrived.

      Have a question - why isn't it called red eye? Mine was definitely red - like the distressing-looking one in your photo. Scary!

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 6 years ago from Midwest USA

      Habee pink eye is one of those conditions that scare not only small kids, we big kids find it alarming as well.

      Your explanation of the disease in your hub Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis, with Videos helped me understand the disease better. I did not know there are three types of pink eye, viral, bacterial, and allergic reaction. To be honest, I never gave it much thought. Now I know better.

      Thanks for the info, best wishes. Mike

    • profile image

      mtsi1098 6 years ago

      Well this hub explains it for me. I just got over double pink eye and have no idea how I got it. At least now I understand it better...You have anything for a scratchy throat? Cheers